Revealed: voters’ turnout prediction for the EU referendum (and other things)

Electoral Reform Society
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Electoral Reform Society

Posted on the 29th March 2016

A couple of weeks ago we revealed that just 16% of voters feel well informed about the EU referendum. Today, we can reveal even more.

The polling by BMG Research, commissioned by us at the ERS, shows the worrying state of the referendum debate.

And a key issue, it has emerged, is that basically no one had been contacted about the EU referendum (as of the end of February).

When given a list of ways people had been contacted about the EU referendum, the answers are startling:

  • 76% of people said they had not been contacted at all about the EU referendum. And just 7% of people had even had a leaflet about it.

We can have a glimpse at some ‘wisdom of the crowds’. We asked what people thought turnout would be in the referendum –

  • When asked, the average response shows that the public predict turnout will be 57% on June 23rd.

What is interesting is that this is broadly in line with non-poll based predictions, particularly amid valid fears about low turnout being a big issue in this referendum. And it certainly links in with the fact that most people do not feel informed about the vote.

What’s also interesting is how consistent this prediction was across all social groups: men put it at 58%, women at 57%. 18-24 year olds put it at 56%, 45-54 year olds at 56%. ABC1 voters (the wealthier) put the figure at 57%, while lower-income C2DE voters put it at 58%. It looks like the public are fairly sure this will be a sub-General Election turnout level.

Something else stood out. In many of the questions, the number of ‘Don’t Knows’ reflected the stated level of knowledge about the issues.

For example, we asked: “Campaigning is said to be ‘positive’ when it focuses on the benefits of the campaigners’ own ideas and proposals. ‘Negative’ campaigning is focused on attacking the ideas and proposals of the other side. Leaving aside how intend to vote for a moment, in your view, how would you rate the referendum campaigns on a scale from ‘very positive’ to ‘very negative’?”

The percentage who answered ‘Don’t Know’ for the Leave campaign were 38%. For the Remain campaign it was 40%. The figures were even higher when we asked whether they thought the campaigns were presenting a ‘clear vision’ on Britain’s relationship with the EU – 42% said ‘Don’t Know’ for both campaigns.

We’ll be launching fresh BMG Research polling this week – Thursday, in fact – with new questions, and ‘tracker questions’ on the most fascinating responses from last month’s omnibus, including how interested voters are now that the official campaign has begun. Watch this space.

And if you want to build a better EU referendum debate, donate to our crowdfunder to create a new and unique democratic tool to foster genuine conversations about the issues – online and offline – surrounding the EU referendum. We want a real debate on the facts, not the personalities.

So help us build a #BetterReferendum – and look out for our new research later this week.

To find out more about our ‘Better Referendum’ campaign, see here

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