Referendum: polls, turn-out and odds

EU and British flags pictured at Ilkley Moor..23rd May 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
EU and British flags pictured at Ilkley Moor..23rd May 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
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internEt betting firm Betfair is suggesting a 72-73 percent turnout in the EU referendum as final polls show the two sides are almost neck and neck.

A turnout of that scale would be the highest in a UK-wide vote since 1992.

This morning’s final opinion poll from Ipsos MORI shows 52 per cent Remain to 48 per cent leave, with a calculation that there is a 74 percent likelihood of staying in the EU.

However an Opinium survey released on Wednesday showed Leave nudging ahead at 51 percent to Remain’s 49 percent while ComRes gave Remain an eight point lead at 54 percent to 46 percent backing Brexit.

This evening there will be no traditional exit poll when the polling stations close at 10pm as there usually is after a General Election.

This is because no comparison can be made with the last EU referendum in 1975 as no exit poll was taken then at the time.

Exit polls’ illuminating forecast of how votes have been placed throughout the day will be a big miss for those hoping to get an early indication of the result before catching an early night.

Instead a number of financial companies are expected to release their own “on the day” polls and YouGov will publish a survey of its panel it has used to capture opinion in the run up the referendum, and will ask the same people how they actually voted.

John Rentoul, political editor of the Independent said that when YouGov did this on the day of the Scottish referendum in 2014, its prediction was within one percentage point of the result.

Another polling company, TNS, will publish a similar information from its own panel at 10pm on Thursday.

The Leave camp had been making gains in the polls with repeated swings in their favour until the end of last week.

John Curtis of the British Polling Council said that Leave reaching a 53 per cent share of the vote in opinion polls signals a significant turning point for Brexit.

While they hit that 53 per cent figure in an Ipsos MORI’s telephone poll seven days ago, Leave are yet to return to the same level of popularity.

Bookmakers William Hill believe the EU Referendum could become the biggest political betting event ever with bets taken until the polls close.

As the polls opened this morning Hill were marking ‘Remain’ as their 2/9 favourite, equating to an 81% chance, with ‘Leave’ offered at 3/1, or 25%.

“We have been taking bets on the outcome of an EU Referendum since January 20, 2013, when a customer from Jersey staked £20 on ‘Leave’ - at that time the odds were 8/11 (57%) ‘Remain, Evens,(50%) ‘Leave’, the closest they have ever been’ said William Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe.

“Now there is some £20 million riding on the outcome with fixed odds bookmakers.”