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EU referendum: a lesson in political and community campaigning


After last year’s elections, it’s understandable that people
may have developed a slight scepticism over what the polling companies are
telling us. For a referendum that can only go one of two ways, though, the
polling data should be more reliable.  If you’ve fancied placing a bet on how the referendum will turn out, however, you may have noticed that the odds of remaining in the EU are a lot shorter than those to leave, in contrast to much of polling data.

A significant factor in the bookmaker’s reasoning is how polling during a campaign compares with when people actually go out to vote. If we look back to 2014’s Scottish independence referendum, the polls were showing 50/50 but, as we know, the unionists won quite comfortably, with over 5% more of the vote. This pattern can
be seen in previous referendums
going back to the original EC membership referendum in 1975. Hence the bookies are betting that the British public will
opt for the status quo.

Anecdotal accounts suggest a lot more on-the-ground activity from the Leave campaign, which has pushed hard to get its message across, while the Remain campaign appears to be struggling. Compared with the Scottish independence referendum, Remain’s message hasn’t got through quite as well, with only 34% of people thinking that a Leave vote would be bad for the economy, as opposed to 46% thinking the same about Scotland leaving the UK in 2014, so the bookmakers could be missing a key point.

The Remarkable team has experience working for a variety of political parties. We know that mobilising and getting out your supporters is critical in a close election campaign, and it’s experience that applies well in development. Getting your messages across early, well, and concisely not only enables us to find and demonstrate that there is support for an application, but allows us to engage with supporters, who can be more than willing to do what they can to help.

The Leave camp appears be campaigning much more at a grassroots level than Remain, which, in short, shows they are utilising their supporters to their advantage, drilling the messages home and picking up more active supporters along the way.  This could provide them with a pool of people dedicated to the cause when they are
most needed in the final two weeks of the campaign and tight elections tend to
be won or lost.

If momentum continues to be with the Leave campaign, then the Remain camp could end up in a position where it doesn’t have enough supporters, volunteers and organisation on the ground before it’s too late to turn the tide. Leave supporters are already thought to be the most likely to turn up and vote, so with a stronger ground campaign encouraging their compatriots to do so, we could see the polls, and the bookies, point to Brexit as the more likely outcome.

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