All Polls shows Yes lead for Repeal but it could still be close if previous patterns hold

Date:

Two new opinions polls were out Sunday morning on next Fridays referendum to remove the hated 8th amendment to the constitution that equates the life of a woman with that of a foetus.  Both this mornings polls are good news for the Yes to Repeal campaign with an increased Yes vote since the same companies' previous polls.

The Red C poll shows a 3% increase for Yes, 1% increase for No since their last poll.

The B&A poll shows a 5% increase for Yes to 52% with 5% fall for No to 24%. With Don't Knows excluded, this is 63% Yes 32% No.

The MRBI poll published by the Irish Times on Thursday wasn't so good, it had a 5% drop for Yes in comparison with their previous polls, suggesting a very much tighter 58% Yes, 42% No vote.

What is important when looking at these polls if not the date they were published but rather the dates data was collected over. All 3 polls have collecting periods overlap (see graphic). The MRBI was collected over a short 2-day period 14/15 May and has the worst result for Together for Yes . The B&A poll was collected over a long  12 day period and appears to have the best result for Yes.  The Red C poll was collected over 6 days and with don't knows excluded has the same result at the B&A one.

As the polls overlap we have to consider that all three are correct even though the numbers differ.  B&A and RedC are similar when Don't Knows are excluded but MRBI is radically worse for Yes.  As MRBI collected towards the end of the period  it MIGHT be showing a sudden No swing although we consider this unlikely.  Its more likely that the difference reflects long standing differences in polling methodology.

When we adjust each polling companies results by how far out that company was on the 2015 Marriage Equality referendum vote its the Red C poll that gives Yes a clear win, the other two would be too close to call. Why?

With their weekend before Marriage Equality poll B&A had
Yes 63
No 26
Don't Know 11

BUT result was
Yes 62
No 38

So ALL B&A Don't Know went to No in that Marriage Equality referendum and so did some yes votes.  If the same happened on May 25th the Yes would only have 51%, way too close to call.
https://www.wsm.ie/c/repeal-8th-warning-marriage-equality-poll-comparison

This isn't intended as a prediction, just an illustration that Don't Knows might break very heavily for NO and in that case 2 of these 3 polls say its still too close to call while just one is a Yes win.

In other words while the polls are good news for Yes its all still to play for in the final few days.  At this stage getting out the Yes vote is going to be central as in a close result who votes could decide it.  eg Over 65s are most likely to vote and are heavily No, this age group was key to Brexit passing in the UK.

There remains a sharp urban rural divide so a sunny day in the west and heavy rain in Dublin could have a big impact. If your a Yes vote make sure you actually vote and spend the week talking to other Yes voters encouraging them out too. We can win this but its not yet won.

Here are our 8 reasons we are voting Yes to Repeal the hated 8th https://www.wsm.ie/c/8-reasons-vote-yes-to-repeal

 


17 May - Its just over a week before Ireland will have a referendum to remove the clause in the constitution the equates the life of a women with that of a foetus. The Irish Times/MRBI have published a poll showing Yes has a 16 point lead over No with one week to go to the referendum. The detail of the poll also reveals a surprisingly large soft No vote still exists. 22-35% of No voters should be voting Yes according to their opinions on wanting more abortion access for women.

But we also continue to warn that if a similar last minute drop in support fort Yes happened as occurred with the Marriage Equality referendum the strong lead in this poll would reduce so that the vote was too close to call. In other words there should be no room for complacency, its likely every vote will count as happened with the 1995 divorce referendum which pass with a tiny margin of 50.28% Yes, equivalent to a couple of votes per ballot box.

No still has a significant soft vote with;
A. 35% of No voters feel access to abortion up to 12 weeks on request is a reasonable compromise. Presumably because they know proving rape cannot be made conditional on accessing abortion - trial take weeks, not months and conviction rates are low. The recent Belfast trial is probably in many peoples minds. But 12 weeks on request can't happen without a Yes vote to Repeal, its completely impossible with the 8th in place.
B. 22% of No voters say the law needs to change to recognise a women's right to choose to have an abortion. This is a VERY soft No indeed as clearly Repeal the 8th has to happen to make this possible, there is no way this 22% should, be voting No while holding this opinion.

These detailed figures are available here https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/poll

Both these large soft No blocs suggest that if people fully understood the referendum and the implications of a No vote as a continuation of cruel regime of the 8th then there should be at least a 10% switch from No to Yes with the referendum then passing 63% Yes to 39% No. This may explain why No has fallen back on distrust, fear and confusion messaging along with trying to make referendum campaign as toxic as possible. They need not to allow the 22% to 35% soft No voters to consider the implications of a No victory.

Overall the Irish Times / MRBI poll has responses as follows
44 Yes
32 No
17 Don’t Know
5 Won't Vote
2 Refused to say

The poll was collected Monday & Tuesday of this week, the controversial Clare Burns Live shows which has a strong No bias in speaker section and time was broadcast Monday night so No might have expected a much stronger showing in this poll as they were very loudly declaring a victory after than broadcast. This poll however shows no significant change in comparison with the KMB poll taken a couple of weeks beforehand.

Dublin remains strongly Repeal with Ulster/Connacht which has seen large scale suppression (tearing down) of Yes posters being the weakest, close to 50:50. It’s also the smallest regional bloc of voters.

The detail of the poll also reveals that the Urban V Rural divide has close a lot during the campaign, according to this poll
Rural V Urban
Yes 39% V 46%
No 36% V 30%

Age remains the biggest dividing line, over 65s are the only group strongly intending to vote No
18 to 24 V 65+
Yes 52% V 30%
No 27% V 47%

Older voters won it for both Trump & Brexit, will the same happen here and the same sense of a betrayal of grand children’s futures by their own grand parents - in this case where ether consequences don’t even directly effect them? Talk kindly to your grandparents about this.

With this question its interesting that with the 65+ and 18-24 age groups the Don't Knows lean towards No strongly but all the in between age groups lean towards Yes. With the 65+ we can say this is the influence of clerical ideology over a life time. With the 18-24 this is the group most likely to see the enormous No spend on misleading online adverts and which doesn’t necessarily have the life experience to measure this against. In terms of voter mobilisation it may be that No's early contempt towards younger (student) voters may hurt them here.

The IT/MRBI last polled in April, this is the shift between their April poll and this one
April->This poll
Yes 47->44
No 28 ->32
DK 20->17
Won't vote 3->5
Won't say 1->2

It’s unusual for Won’t vote and Won’t say figures to rise in the course of a referendum. This very much reflects the hate and fear messaging of the No campaign along with the widespread attempts to sow confusion and doubt. It’s clearly scared some intending voters from voting and made others fearful of speaking. This also happened in 1983 leading to a tiny turnout of 53% on the day. No have been busy in the last few days setting the ground for declaring the referendum to be a fix, a low turnout would also help them in that respect so its useful to be aware that they are trying to engineer a low turnout. At times this has been blatant, as with releasing press releases saying colleges should not close on the 25th to allow students to vote.

A lot of people are very sure of how they will vote, this is obviously good for Yes and bad for No as it suggests the pool of voters who can be shifted is not large. Yes has very much larger canvass teams so they are much more likely to be able to sway this pool in the final week.
65% never change
22% extremely unlikely
9% unlikely but open
4% possibly

We presume there will be at least another 2 polls out in next few days if all major polling companies are polling. The MRBI 'weekend before' poll was closest to being correct for the Marriage Equality Referendum result, more on this important comparison for the previous polls and how we do this calculation

That said in bad news for No and going somewhat against our Marriage Equality ref comparison more Don't Knows are leaning to Yes than No

Lean Yes 31%
Lean No 24%
Not leaning 44%

But if we assume all No leaning Don’t Knows become No votes this poll becomes one very close to what happened with MRBI and their Marriage Equality referendum polling, bringing us back towards a too close to call result. Again we say this is a warning and not as a prediction of actual outcome, there is far more for the No campaign to sweat over in this poll which is why they are preparing the ground for their defeat and claims of a rigged referendum.

Canvassing and leafletting for Yes is going to have a massive impact in the remaining week of campaigning. So too will talking to your friends, workmates and relatives. Divorce passed in 1995 by a tiny fraction and its looking like it could be very close for Repeal so do have those conversations. No want a low turnout, we want a high one so vote early on the 25th, and post to social media that you have done so to encourage others to do likewise.


 

20th April - Three additional opinion polls this April have shown that the anti-choice campaign has failed to reduce the number of people intending to repeal the 8th referendum at all, despite 3 months of frantic campaigning that has involved an enormous spend on misleading billboards, posters, online ads and glossy colour leaflets.  With the Together for Yes campaign only gearing up last week this means the No may may well decrease between now and the referendum.  However as our reports and analysis of these poles show the pro-choice Yes campaign cannot be complacent. 

Two of these polls appeared on 28th and 29th April, the Daily Mail one had a very loaded to the No side question, the Red C seems to continue to over estimate the Yes relative to other polls.

The Red C poll in Sunday Business Post 29th April confirms little change against their previous poll since campaigns started in February.

  • No vote static at 26%,
  • Yes vote at 53% down 3% since last their poll but 3% is margin of error.
  • Don't Know up 3 to 19%
  • Won't vote static at 2%

The image above shows all 6 polls and demonstrate that despite Save the 8th & Love Both No campaigns spend of millions the No vote has not increase at all.

With Don't Know excluded that Sunday Business Post / Red C poll has

  • 68% Yes
  • 32% No

Note this is a higher Yes than that which other companies are finding but the Yes to No ratio has remained close to 2:1 in all polls, all variation appears to be down to the company polling with Red C polling yes the highest.

But please also read our we explanation of why Yes needs not to get complacent on the basis of our adjustment of polling figures on the basis of previous referendums and in particular Marriage Equality.

 


 

Sunday 22nd April saw the appearance of yet another opinion poll of the referendum to repeal the anti-choice amendment added to the constitution in 1983.  As with all 5 opinion polls that have appeared during the campaign it showed little change at the national level, the strong lead for Yes remains.  But when the full data was published Monday we had a look and discovered some interesting trends within it.

The Sunday Times teased everyone Saturday night with tweet pointing out the Dublin Yes had fallen 8%.  They probably a sold a good few papers the next day off of it but in doing so they buried the lead that otherwise no significant change in voting intentions had occurred in comparison with their previous polls.

You can view this Behaviour & Attitudes poll reported in the Sunday Times.  In this poll 928 people were questioned  meaning the margin of error is 3.3% error.  Once that is taken into account we see the tiny changes in voting intentions are not significant despite what the Save 8th  and Love Both spokes people initially tried to claim.

People were also asked if they supported unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of preganancy, the period in which the abortion pill can be used.  Despite the No campaigns huge huge spend on misleading posters, billboards, online ads & leaflets there was no impact on voter attitudes on this question. There is certainly an argument that the Save the 8th campaign being caught multiple times with its dirty tricks campaign at the start of the campaign rightly did permanent credibility damage to the No side. There was also no change in attitudes to allowing abortion to protect womens health & where there is fatal foetal abnormality detected.

This 3rd B&A/ST poll was done from 15-17th April .  This was right at the end of the period when only Vote No posters were up, and in considerable numbers.  Since then the Together for Yes & other Repeal the 8th posters are appearing in increasing numbers.  The failure of the anti-choice organisations to erode ‘soft Yes’ votes when they were the most prominent voice by far is a serious setback for them.  Now the question is whether the ‘soft No’ vote will be eroded by arguments for compassion & protection of health as  the referendum  approaches in 5 weeks.

‘Soft No’ votes can be understood as No voters who also want to protect womens health & allow abortion for fatal foetal abnormalities. Doing either however requires Repeal.  The No campaign is in trouble here, this B&A poll on page 17 shows 33% of No voters want abortion in such cases & 11% don't know.  In this context 44% of the No could be won to Yes by the Together for Yes campaign as it unfolds.

Pages 16+17 of this B&A poll shows that the ‘Soft Yes’ is proportionately small, less than half  as a proportion than the ‘Soft No’ so even apart from their  failure to date the anti-choice campaigns are in a weak position.  To illustrate

For voters who intend to vote Yes to repeal some 12% are against unrestricted access to 12 weeks and 8% don’t know, so you could say 20% of the Yes vote was soft.  On the allowing access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and where the persons health is threatened some 9% of Yes voters are against and 5% don’t know.  This is a 13% ‘soft’ vote

Here its worth noting that although the 3 months of (mostly No) campaign have not effected voting intentions on repeal pages 16 & 17 does show both Yes and No soft votes have reduced between February & April polling, presumably as people educate themselves on these topics. 
Soft Yes i.e. against 12 weeks fell from 21% of Yes to 14%
Soft No i.e. for health & FFA fell from 49% of No to 44%

So as an exercise if we take soft votes into account the unrealistic worst cases, assuming all Don’t Knows go against them as
Yes falls to 40% if all ‘soft yes’ lost
No falls to 16% if all ‘soft no’ lost

This sort of complete loss is very unlikely but this exercise demonstrates what a bad situation the anti-choice campaigns are in.

When you add the 2 other polls in the 3 month campaign period in (see image in 1st comment) and exclude Don't Knows we see some differences probably due to different MRBI and Red C methodology but confirmation across all these polls that there have been no major changes in voter intention at the national level.  Including  Don't Knows and Won't vote makes little difference, again there is very little change over the three months of campaigning.

But to warn against Yes complacency. The 1995 Divorce referendum was almost lost despite a strong showing at start when the Yes vote fell sharply in the last days of the campaign.  That said the fall was between the polls before the campaign started with a big drop during the campaign itself.  The three B&A polls above are all taken with the campaigns underway.  There does seems to have been a small drop before the campaign started as recorded in the MRBI and Red C January polls. Divorce data from the Irish Political Ephemera page 

We are going to move on to looking at the B&A/ST data on regional voting intentions & how much can be said about the data on voting intention by age, gender, 'social class' and political party support.  This is complex so you may want to have a look at what we wrote comparing their previous two polls where we discuss the issues around doing this, in particular then increase in the margin of error. 

The change in voting intentions by region from the 3 polls carried out by B&A/Sunday Times, February to April show the urban V rural divide collapsing.  In other words the Yes falls in Dublin & other urban areas but this fall is balanced by a No fall in rural areas so that there is no overall change of significance.

Yes has shifted from being well ahead in Dublin & other urban areas to being well ahead everywhere
Even in Connacht/Ulster Yes is now 13% ahead
The reduced Dublin Yes lead is still 27% ahead
Overall the Rural Yes is now 14% ahead, it was 1% behind back in February

With all the sub group discussions its important to keep in mind that as group size decreases the margin of error increases substantially.

When to look at this poll by region, gender & social class we see strong variations here as with the previous two B&A polls but no significant movement between these polls. Repeal the 8th remains the choice of every group except the over 55s which are Save the 8th by 4%, really with the margin of error included this makes them 50:50. 

Another reminder that because these sub populations are small when looking at the raw B&A tables its important to keep an eye on sample size as what looks like a change may not be when margin of error for small sample is considered.  For instance sequentially across the 3 polls it looks like the under 35s No vote goes from 25 -> 18 -> 23 but a lot of this may be because the margin of error for that sub sample size would be plus/minus 6%. So the first month drop is real but the subsequent rise may not be.  On the other hand the under 35 Yes at 59% and No at 23% is a difference of 36%, many times the margin of error, so its real. 

Keeping the margin of error in mind
-Yes does better than average with under 35s & ABC1s
- No does better than average with over 55s & C2DEs but pensioners are probably tilting that C2DE average towards No because of the over 55 effect.  C2DEs are still voting Yes by a margin of 6%

A word of warning for Together 4 for Yes - when asked if they would vote in a general election (p31)  79% of the over 55s will definitely vote as against 60% of the under 34s.  If the Yes vote falls and the referendum was close that higher over 55 turnout could defeat repeal the 8th.  But of course intention to vote in an  election isn't the same as intention to vote in a referendum - anarchists vote in referendum only rarely if at all in elections, see https://www.wsm.ie/elections  for why

Finally we look at the ST/BA poll and the data on how the vote  breaks down by political party. And here we see the reason for Fianna Fails  self destructive opportunism of trying to ride both horses at once,  their voters are split 50:50,  41:42 to be precise.  Rural Fianna Fail will want to be visibly No but that could spell the doom for urban Fianna Fail who already face decimation from the growing urban Sinn Fein vote that is hovering up what used to be the Fianna Fail youth vote/

All the other parties have far more Yes voters, the lead of Yes over No for each of the major parties is
Fine Gael 24%
Labour 30%
Sinn Fein 30%

Of  these Labour & Sinn Fein are both actively campaigning for Repeal while Fine Gael is halfhearted with little on the ground activity and an intended spend that is a fraction of Together for Yes.  We may have forced the establishment to call a referendum but they certainly do not intend to win it for us, indeed a victory will be a defeat for the spot of politics of control they held for the last 90 years.  And not too soon.


The Irish Times with MRBI published an opinion poll on the Repeal the 8th referendum 20th April that once more showed a strong Yes lead and a static No.  It is the 6th poll of the year so we thought it useful to generate a side by side comparison of the Yes & No votes for all 6.  The polls were carried out by MRBI, Red C and Behaviour & Attitudes.

20/April IT/MRBI

 poll has

Yes 47%
No 28%
Don't Know 20%
Won't vote 3%
 

With undecided excluded that come down to
63% Yes
to
37% No

With the chart above we eliminated undecided from all 6 polls.

Other significant finds from this mornings poll included;

A narrow majority of Fianna Fail votes favour repeal
39% Yes
37% No

This is very bad news for No campaigns as it suggests there will be no further opportunism from Fianna Fail TDs who might otherwise think campaigning for a No would damage their Fine Gael or Sinn Fein rivals.  This is now only the case in some rural areas and the advantage would be small but the Fianna Fail party nationally would have to be conferenced that any further prominent opportunism from rural Tis would further damage their chances of an urban recovery rather than the permanent loss of seats to Sinn Fein.  Fianna Fail did a press stunt yesterday where several party members appeared with a Together for Yes banner, cynically we suspect this was because they were forwarned of todays poll showing No had failed to gain.

Most importantly the Yes vote appears to be very very solid with 80% of Repeal voters saying they would never change their mind.  Its probable the sheer toxicity and disinformation of the No campaign as well as the saturation coverage in terms of billboards and online ads has backfired and solidified the Yes vote.

Also of great significance undecideds are leaning 2:1 towards Repeal - this is unusual in a referendum where the assumption is that a majority of undecided would opt for the status quo and vote no.

If the two findings above are accurate the No campaign has no chance of winning on polling day.   This along with their failure to significantly increase their share of the vote since February suggests outside of some major Yes mishap it’s over for them.

In this MRBI poll voters also reported a high degree of knowledge of post referendum legislation - only 15% said they were unaware - and Repeal voters showed the highest level of knowledge.  This means the No strategy of fake claims and misleading posters has not only failed but probably backfired and instead is motivating Yes voters and alienating undecided’s. 

But while there are strong grounds for optimism it's not over yet. Dangers include the attempts by No to make the campaign bitter and nasty, particularly in Dublin, to try and drive down turnout, particularly of younger voters. They probably hoped to provoke a response in kind from the Yes campaign but it has stayed focused on compassion and women’s health.

The Irish Times headlined this as a slippage in the Yes vote in comparison with their January poll, something that is present until undecided are excluded when the apparent shift is then smaller than the margin of error.     RED C showed a similar slippage between their January and March polls which we discussed in depth at  https://www.wsm.ie/c/repeal-8th-opinion-polls-analysis but at this point we’d acknowledge that its likely there was a loss of soft Yes votes back then before there was significant campaigning.

The weakest point for Yes remains the 12 week unrestricted access which is why No will continue to try and centre that discussion and avoid the discussions being centred on protecting womens health and fatal foetal abnormality. There the No vote is very soft indeed, half of No voters in the B&A poll actually wanted abortion access in those cases, meaning No could lose half their vote if protecting women health becomes the main issue under discussion.  The other half are the core 15% ‘let women die’ - a figure that has remained constant for the last few years.

From their messaging its clear that the No campaign recognise that they are not likely to erode many Yes votes on the 12 week issue and the Irish Times poll confirms that.  The percentage saying 12 weeks goes too far (41%) is almost identical with the percentage saying abortion is wrong and should not be more widely available. (40%).  56% said they had reservations on 12 weeks but it was a reasonable compromise.  Presumably a recognition that there is no other way of providing abortion in the case of rape and that 12 weeks is the current reality in Ireland because its  the end of the period where the abortion pill can be used.  The abortion pill may be illegal right now but the reality is women are taking it every week and that usage is increasing.  Unless the state starts prosecuting women for its use - and that would carry a 14 year jail sentence without repeal  - women will continue to use it regardless of the outcome of the referendum.  Most voters want these women to be able to access medical care with the risk of jail.

This mornings poll should have been the strongest by far figures for No campaign as they were organised to campaign earlier and are spending huge amounts on billboards & ads while #Together4Yes was still in the process of raising funds. Two weeks back No spokespeople on Twitter were crowing that the Yes campaign was nowhere to be seen - and this poll would have been collected in that period.  Last week saw the enormous crowdfunding drive by Together for Yes with 550,000 being raised through over 10,000 small donations, many with names and indeed moving stories attached.  Just who is funding the No campaign on the other hand is murky and unclear - its widely understood that huge quantities of dollars have flowed in over the last years because extreme US christian groups see Ireland as a key battleground in their ‘crusade’.

What has also been striking on Twitter is that the No canvass groups remain smaller and appear to have become less frequent, particularly in Dublin while the Together for Yes canvass groups have appeared everywhere, including rural areas that didn’t see Marriage Equality canvassing and some of the groups are enormous.  We’ve seen photos of canvass groups in individual Dublin constituencies that have had 50-70 people on them.  We suspect the early start of the No campaign and the enormous amount of money they are spending on achieving saturation advertising everywhere from billboards to children’s computer games has really motivated Repealers to donate and canvass.  A massive rebellion against the hated 8th amendment is very much in full swing and the status quo looks like its going down to a major defeat, and not just in the cities.

These are the 4 polls carried out since Repeal 8th referendum was declared. They show the impact of campaigning, mostly of the No side as Together for Yes got underway later. So both anti-choice groups, Save the 8th and Love Both have had no real impact on voters despite the enormous spend on posters, billboards & online ads.

Incidentally we have seek the claim that todays MRBI poll was the first time the Yes vote when don't know are included fell below 50%. This claim is false, the yes vote was at 49% for both the B&A polls here, ie for the period of the campaign it has remained just under 50% for all but one poll.

 

There was also  a poll in the Daily Mail but because of the loaded way the question was phrased (opposite) to include unrestricted access to 12 weeksthis means its not comparable with these other polls. 

That Daily Mail question is not standard. In fact its what reputable polling companies have been using to see how soft the Yes vote is.

Behaviour & Attitudes for instance ask how people intend to vote on the 8th as one question and what their attitude to 12 weeks as a follow on - in their April poll 47% are for Repeal but only 43% in favour of 12 weeks, the gap showing how important the question asked is.

To combine the two isn't just a loaded question, its most of the basis of the No campaign. It's why reputable polling companies also have a soft No question about protecting health & cases where foetus will not survive (FFA).  So if you are paying for a poll and the question you pay for is set up as the Daily Mail poll was then in effect you are paying for a result. If NO canvassing teams are demoralised it might fool them to have some hope to keep going

In that context the Daily Mail reported

  • Yes 46%
  • No 31%
  • Don't Know 16%
  • Not Say 8%

Even in that context though when you account for margin of error and compare with their previous poll only this is the 7th poll to show the No campaign has had no significant impact

The polls to date

Pre-campaign

​Polls during campaign 

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