What are the Brexiteers thinking?

A new IpsosMori survey explains what's going on - and offers hope to both sides. 

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Will it be Brexit after all?  Though both the polls and the betting markets are showing movement towards a Leave vote, the position is finely balanced. The historical pattern in the final weeks is for undecided voters to break at different times – early undecideds tend to back the change outcome, with late deciders backing the status quo. Leave’s narrow lead across the polls is not – yet – large enough to withstand the average reversion to type that tends to happen in referendums, but it’s close.

Research from IpsosMori and published by the New Statesman measuring reaction time among respondents – a technique that picks up how deeply held a conviction is. The slower the reaction time, the less ingrained – and the more vulnerable – the opinion is.

The Leave vote may be smaller – and more fragile – than it looks

Although Leave voters are more likely to agree on the benefits of their vote, with 75 per cent of Brexit backers agreeing on the benefits of their preferred option against 62 per cent of Remainers, they are less emphatic. Just 36 per cent of Leave voters respond emphatically on the strengths of a Leave vote – a statistical tie with Remain voters on 33 per cent (the margin of error is plus or minus three).

If there are any “shy” voters on either side – I emphasise the word ‘if’ – then that will benefit Remain, rather than Leave.

But turnout favours Leave

Those who are certain to vote have stronger positive associations with a Leave vote.

On the economy, it’s all square

Leave voters are just as likely to emphatically agree as Remain voters that their preferred vote would be better for the economy, with 45 per cent of Leavers emphatically agreeing and 44 per cent of Remainers agreeing. confirms the pattern.

But Leavers are nervous about the short term impact:

Both Leave and Remain voters are more confident that their vote will be best for Britain in the long term than they are in the short run. This difference is particularly marked among Leave voters, with 52 per cent agreeing leaving is best in the short term, but only 22 per cent doing so with confidence. Whether this is because Leave voters a) believe this is a risk worth taking b) feel they have little to lose or c) will end up voting Remain is an open question.

Immigration isn’t Leave’s killer app – yet

Voters are both undecided as to the impact their vote will have on immigration. The biggest gap in explicit response and implicit reaction is among leave supporters. 89 per cent of Leavers say that a Leave vote would reduce immigration – but just 38 per cent do so emphatically.

The cost of living could decide it all, one way or the other

Voters are divided as to the impact of a Brexit vote on their own finances, suggesting that whoever can win that argument over the next eight days will be well-placed to win the referendum.


Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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