The EU Referendum results last week came as a surprise to
many. Polling had been fairly close throughout, but a poll taken the day before
the vote showed a four-point lead for the Remain camp. Bookies were even more
confident. There were odds of up to 80% for Remain prevailing.
The pollsters, pundits, and bookies got it wrong. 52% voted
Leave. The poor predictions were down to flaws in methodology, and a
misunderstanding of the political landscape.
Phone v online polling
Polling conducted over the phone consistently skewed the
results towards Remain, whereas online polls gave a more accurate figure. When
asked for a ‘yes or no’ answer over the phone,
floating voters seemed to have felt pressured, and fell into instinctively
supporting the status quo. Come polling day, many of these floating voters
would have instead opted for Leave.
Pollsters took figures from past elections to estimate the
turnout for the referendum. This was flawed. The emotive and decisive nature of
the referendum meant many previously apathetic voters did cast their vote. This
meant pollsters did not anticipate the incredibly high
turnout in areas that veered towards Leave, such as the South West.
The bookmakers were even further off the mark than the
pollsters. A press release by Unibet last
week indicated an 80% chance of a Remain vote, and even argued that betting
markets were a better reflection of reality than polling.
Why were the odds especially off? Whilst more individual
bets were made for Leave, a
greater amount of money overall was placed on Remain. This is because
wealthier punters were more likely themselves to vote Remain. They spent more,
and severely skewed the odds.
Misjudging Labour’s heartland
It was assumed by many that traditional Labour voters would
follow the Party’s position and vote to Remain. However, the results show that
the majority of Labour seats in the North voted decisively for Leave.
The experts did not gauge the degree of disaffection amongst
voters in the working class urban towns and cities. Labour have been losing
support here in recent times, and UKIP’s populist nationalist message has
gained much traction.
Ultimately, it was this wave of anger and disillusion that
decided this election. People in poorer communities, weary of mainstream
politics, and willing to go against the status quo.
This year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow has been hailed as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement. But what action must world leaders take to put the planet on a sustainable path? And what does this mean for the future of global capitalism?
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