EU Referendum Predictions

Britain’s decision day is here, and today the electorate will decide whether or not the UK should remain within or leave the European Union.

Who’s going to win is anyone’s guess, with the polls being almost dead level going into today’s historic vote, but with the help of some precedent and some stats – I’m going to make a prediction on how things are going to turn out tonight.

Here are how the final polls look going into the vote:

Remain Leave Undecided
Online 43.6% 45.1% 11.3%
Telephone 46.8% 46.6% 6.6%
TOTAL 44.6% 45.6% 9.9%

As you can see, Leave are actually slightly ahead – but what’s crucial is that there are a large number of undecided voters who haven’t made up their mind yet as to which way they’ll cast their vote, and so far in the last few days we’ve seen a clear shift towards Remain in the polls.

It’s these people who will decide which side wins the referendum.

With the current support of both sides, the Remain camp need to win 55% of undecided voters while Leave only need to win 45%.  However, this is much easier said than done.

Undecided voters tend to choose the status quo in elections/referendums, so that’s why my final predictions are going to see the Leave side pick up fewer undecided voters than the Remain side.

In the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, my final polls suggested a 47%-43% lead for the No campaign, with the remaining 10% undecided.  In the results, the “Remain” side in that referendum picked up 8/10 voters and won by a 10% margin.

Similarly, in the 1995 Quebec independence referendum, a polling average of the final polls gave the Yes side a 46%-42% lead but with just over 7/10 voters going to the No camp – they managed to pull off a win by just over 1% of the total vote.

History, then, is not on the side of the Leave camp but with the slightly different nature of this vote and the unusual combination of the older voters being more in favour of Leave than younger voters and older voters being more likely to turnout, then the swing does have a chance of happening, although the chances of it being as strong as they need are unlikely.

I’ve create a polling model based upon a 5/2 split towards Remain, which is ever so slightly more than the Quebec vote turned into but one that I believe will be accurate.  It takes an average of the most recent phone and telephone polls from British Polling Council members, and in the case of the individual nations it weights by the polling organisations that provided samples for them.

So without further ado, here’s how I see the referendum results going:

Remain Leave
England 51.2% 48.8%
Scotland 60.7% 39.3%
Wales 54.7% 45.5%
NI 58.4% 41.6%
UK 51.6% 48.4%


Remain has the slightly better chance of winning, but with such a close-run vote it could be late in the morning before we finally know the destiny of Britain & Europe’s long and complex relationship.

I very much hope that I’m right and Remain win the day, but it’s now in the British public’s hands and no matter what the result as dawn breaks tomorrow, Britain has turned into a very different place.

Polls consulted
Date Poll Comp. Sample Remain Leave Undecided
16-22 Jun TNS 2320 41% 43% 16%
20-22 Jun Opinium 3011 44% 45% 12%
20-22 Jun Yougov 3766 45% 45% 10%
10-13 Jun ICM 2001 44% 49% 7%
Date Poll Comp. Sample Remain Leave Undecided
17-22 June ComRES 1032 48% 42% 11%
20-Jun Survation 1004 45% 44% 11%
16-19 Jun ORB 800 53% 46% 2%
11-14 Jun Ipsos Mori 1257 43% 49% 3%
10-13 Jun ICM 1000 45% 50% 5%

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