Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brexit Bregrets or Polls as Self-refuting Prophesies

I haven't been closely following either the Brexit in general or the Brexit polling in particular, so I don't want to go out on any limbs speculating about what drove what except to note that this post from Scott Lemieux raises an interesting possibility.
I don’t know how many Brexit voters fall into the remorseful category. But I remember seeing somewhere (HELP ME BROCKINGTON) that a large majority of Brexit voters assumed that Remain would win. For what was surely a decisive number of Brexit voters, the vote was not a considered view that leaving the EU would be better than remaining, but rather was a vehicle for sending a message to British elites. 
I'm not saying that this was a factor but just as an intellectual exercise, try this. Imagine that widely reported polls contributed to the perception that the voters would chose to remain. That in turn created the perception that "leave" was a safe protest vote. Does it make sense to say that the polls were wrong in this context?


  1. Did somebody just say "endogeneity?"

  2. I also think the difference between their electoral system and the referendum played a part in this.

    The UK has an area based, first past the post system where many people vote knowing that their vote isn't going to count because the opposition has a candidate who is so far in the lead that they can't be defeated(IIRC - the Conservatives won the most seats but Labour got the most votes at the last election). They know going in to the polling booth to vote that their vote can only be a protest vote.

    The Brexit referendum was different - every vote carried the same weight and any protest vote against the Conservative government was really a vote to leave the EU. So many people had a vote that mattered when they never had before.