One of the marked features of polling during the referendum campaign has been the divergent findings of internet and phone polls. Most of the time, polls done via the internet have put Remain and Leave neck and neck while those undertaken by phone have put Remain ahead. Inevitably this has engendered a lively debate about which set of figures, if either, is correct, while in some cases polling companies have adapted their methodology in order to respond to some of the criticism of both kinds of polling that this debate has provoked.
This paper discusses the results of a new, experimental approach to measuring public opinion, and specifically the likely EU referendum result. The methodology – which utilises a ‘random probability’ online and telephone panel recruited via the 2015 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey – implements some of the recommendations for improving polling that were made by the Inquiry into the failure of the polls to accurately estimate the level of Conservative and Labour support in the lead-up to the 2015 General Election.
This is the first time that a mixed mode internet and phone panel based on people selected at random has been established in Britain. The results should thus be treated as experimental. However, the panel has been designed to maximise methodological rigour, and thereby produce a robust picture of attitudes in Britain towards the EU. The results are compared with those that have been provided by internet and phone polls during the course of the campaign.
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