I have long been forecasting a Vote Leave win even when the full force of Project Fear was ruling the day with Remain flying high in the polls and Ladbrokes offering 5-1 on Brexit achieving 50-55 per cent of the vote. (And yes I did take advantage of their largesse as it was the best bet in town.)
My prediction is that Vote Leave will get 52-53 per cent of the vote, but that it could be considerably higher, depending on turnout.
Why am I predicting this?
Firstly I look at the polls as a starting point but focus on undecided voter intentions and how many of them might actually vote (who by 2:1 tend to favour the status quo).
Then I take a long-term view of what I believe will be the British public’s collective will, based on a number of data points.
If you look back to the key elections over the last 40 years you can see that the results very much reflect the 'will of the people':
- In 1992 they weren't sure about Kinnock so Major won.
- In 1997 they believed things would get better with Blair so handed him a landslide.
- In 2010 they did not want Brown but we're not willing to give power on a plate to Cameron so we had a coalition with Clegg.
- In 2015 Clegg burnt his boats over tuition fees and the public took one look at Milliband so gave Cameron the smallest of majorities.
Milliband’s treatment by the studio audience at Question Time two weeks before the general election reinforced for me why I believed a Conservative majority was in the bag. The fact he tripped up on leaving the stage seemed to sum it all up.
I saw the very same thing in how the Sky audience reacted to Cameron last week. The transfer of power from the ruler to the people was visceral. He may not have fallen off the stage, but the public’s reaction revealed that he had tripped up with ‘Project Fear’.
Then I go back to the data and apply a ‘shy voter’ shift to the results.
Whilst the ‘shy Tory voter’ phenomenon has been discussed in terms of people who are unwilling to declare themselves in polls as Conservatives but go on to vote for the party in general elections, it is something that has hardly been mentioned in terms of the referendum, as you can discover simply by googling ‘shy voter EU referendum’.
This is a huge factor which will have a significant impact on the final result.
And here I can let you into my insider knowledge – although it is something anyone could do for themselves if they wanted. Call me old-fashioned but I believe in going out into the country and talking to people.
Westminster, the media and opinion-leader dinner parties mostly reside in London where the Remain vote is strongest and I think this clouds their perceptions.
Now at this point I need to let you know I could be accused of bias or deluding myself as I favour leaving the EU and am a member of ‘Communicators for Britain’, a group of marketing communications professionals supporting Brexit.
As part of our work at my agency, LONDON Advertising, we have created a new ad and social media campaign that is launching today to help ‘Get Out the Vote’ in the last week before the polls.
The campaign recounts various members of the public saying in their own words why they favour leaving the EU.
Two things struck me about this experience:
It was extraordinary the number of people who we approached who told us they were going to vote leave, but how few were willing to go on the record to say so as they seemed concerned – or ‘shy’ - about what their neighbors might think.
When you hear in their own words their rationale for leaving it was apparent they have been able to navigate their way through all the noise and complexities of the different arguments. In short their consensus view was that whilst they don’t trust politicians, at least they can vote ours out, but feel powerless to affect what happens in the EU. They understand that leaving may have a negative impact on the economy in the short term, but that the uncertainties of remaining could be worse in the long term. At the end of the day they are more willing to put their trust in the British public than a faceless EU elite.
So this is why I am firmly of the view that on June 24th the country will wake up to a new dawn ahead of us outside of the EU.
As Drum readers may recall, I was the lone voice amongst the pundits on the Drum Beat election panel to predict “a small Conservative majority” in last year’s general election. This was something I had been consistently forecasting in the national press, on the radio, BBC and Bloomberg in the preceding 7 months. My final prediction a week before the election exclusively for the Drum was a "Conservative majority in single figures" a variance of 0.46% from the final result.
In the Scottish Referendum I went on record predicting the “Yes vote would be under 45%”, a variance of 0.3% from the final result of 44.7%.
Michael Moszynski is Founder and CEO of LONDON Advertising and ran the Conservative 2005 election campaign as well as numerous political campaigns across the globe.