Today
Sat 17 August 2019
Subscribe

Andrew Carter explains why the data so far from local authorities on the European Elections turnout gives Remainers cause to be hopeful.

We are still 24 hours away from the results of the EU elections and – with exit polls hinting at results in Ireland and the Netherlands the lack of data in the UK is only fuelling anticipation.

A strong negative correlation exists between local authority support for Leave in 2016 and EU election turnout in 2019.

However, in the absence of exit polls, there are other ways of forecasting a result.


Voter Turnout

Voter turnout data is now available for over 100 of the 375 local authorities across the UK – and it does not make happy reading for Leave voters.

Recent polling by Survation indicated those who voted Leave in 2016 were more certain to vote on Thursday, but turnout does not seem to back this up. In fact, it has swung strongly the other way.

Certainty of voting in the EU elections for people who voted Leave and Remain in the 2016 Referendum. Survation, 24/05/19

A strong negative correlation exists between local authority support for Leave in 2016 and EU election turnout in 2019.

Extrapolation from early turnout data updated by Britain Elects

Overall turnout has only increased 2% compared to the last EU elections in 2014, but that figure hides the large changes seen at the local authority level.


Turnout from Leave and Remain Areas

Areas with large numbers of Leave voters – like Thurrock and Great Yarmouth – have seen turnout fall by around 5%. By contrast, Remain supporting areas – like Bristol and Cardiff – have seen improvements of between 8% and 10%.

Leave voters appear 8% less likely to vote than in 2014, with Remain voters 14% more likely to vote.

Kingston-upon-Thames – which returned a 62% vote for Remain in 2016 – has seen turnout increase by almost 15%.

A broad analysis of Leave and Remain voting local authorities (for which turnout is known) suggests that Leave voters appear 8% less likely to vote than in 2014, with Remain voters 14% more likely to vote.

This is not the only indicator that the Brexit cause may be giving way to disillusionment or fatigue. The local election results produced large gains for pro-Remain parties and even larger losses for pro-Leave. We have also seen a string of Leave events produce underwhelming turnout, consistently disappointing the organisers’ expectations.

And, of course, there is the stream of polling data consistently showing that most of the public – 54%, as recorded by Panelbase just last week – now believe the UK should not leave the EU.

The EU election data would also seem to support this conclusion. If Thursday had been a re-run of the 2016 referendum, these turnout figures (if repeated in all local authorities) would have produced a 53% victory for Remain.


Reasons to be Cautious

So are the EU elections about to become the next step in this pattern of a shift to Remain?

Perhaps. But we must remember that this still partial data. We must not let the vacuum of exit polls drive us to make too many leaps or assumptions – and there are definitely reasons to be sceptical.

For example, the turnout data includes all local authorities in the South West and North East, but none from Yorkshire & the Humber. So it’s possible that results in some regions are skewing a national picture more in line with expectations.

IF YOU LIKE THIS ARTICLE
HELP US PAY MORE GREAT JOURNALISTS AND WRITERS

Subscribe for the next 12 editions to your door, starting at £29
• digital edition • monthly Byline Times News Club meetings

sign up at bylinetimes.com/subscribe/ or email info@bylinetimes.com

The argument could also be made that the increased turnout in Remain areas is the result of Leave voters seeking to defy the “Remain” label attached to their home. Or that Remain voters in Leave areas have given up and stayed at home.

Nonetheless, we can draw one firm conclusion from this data: with turnout so wildly skewed relative to expectations – the results tomorrow are likely to throw up a few surprises.

More stories filed under Fact