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FEATURE24 May 2016

Under the spotlight

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Europe Features Impact Trends UK

With the EU referendum on the horizon, UK pollsters are wary of repeating the failures surrounding last year’s General Election. Martin Boon of ICM offers his perspective on the task ahead in the coming months. 

June 23 is not a date that the UK’s political pollsters will be particularly looking forward to. The calamitous polling experience of 2015 is still fresh in the mind, new polling methods are still unwrapped in some cases – never mind properly put to use – and the fear of getting consecutive electoral events wrong is pervasive. The morning after may require a dose of Prozac rather than a celebratory hangover cure.  

Meantime, the industry looks on, as do the media, the academics, the activists and the bewildered public. Let’s pity them all, for the messages we currently send merely serve to reinforce a reputation so brutally scarred by last year’s events. EU referendum polling is now too ingrained to face down the mode problem: telephone polls show a relatively comfortable ‘Remain In’ victory; online polls suggest a close finish, with perhaps a Brexit outcome. Yes, we face the possibility of predicting the wrong result again. Batten down the hatches. ...