Better Referendum

Poll: BBC has been most important source of info on EU referendum

22nd June 2016
22 Jun 2016
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EU referendum
EU
BBC
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Poll finds newspapers are second most important info source, at 20%

Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 21st June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


34% of the public say the BBC is their most important source of information about the EU referendum, with a fifth saying newspapers are most important in helping them make their decision, according to new BMG Research polling for the Electoral Reform Society released today.

Almost the same proportion of people who view newspapers as most important to their decision rank family as the top factor, at 18%.

The poll also shows that social media is playing a significant role in this campaign, with 16% of people viewing it as their most important referendum information source, the same as the proportion who view friends as the most important when it comes to Thursday’s vote.

However, there are stark demographic divides within Britain when it comes to who voters count on for their EU knowledge.

When asked to pick three, only 24% of 18-24 year olds view the BBC as one of their most important sources of information about the referendum – compared to 41% of over 65s. Almost double the proportion of over 65s say newspapers are their most important source of information – 29% to 18-24 year olds’ 16%. Meanwhile, 25% of over 65s view the Leave campaign as their most important source of information – to only 13% of 18-24 year olds.

33% of 18-24 year olds view social media as one of their most important source of EU info – yet the figure falls to just 8% for over 65s.

There’s also a clear gender gap, with women being far more likely to trust family on the EU - 23% of women view family as a crucial port of call about the referendum, compared to just 13% of men. The proportion rises to 27% among 18-24 year olds, but is just 15% for over 65s. Over 65s count on friends much less regarding the EU, with just 12% viewing them as a ‘most trusted’ decision-making helper, compared to 23% of 18-24s. 

On party backgrounds, Conservatives are more likely to rely on newspapers – 25% of Conservative supporters to 20% of Labour backers, while Labour supporters rely much more on social media – 23% to the Tories’ 13%. Just 25% of UKIP supporters trust the BBC most for their EU information, and only 4% see the government as most important for their decision-making. A startling half – 48% - of UKIP backers say the Leave campaign itself is their most important source of information on the EU referendum.

The Electoral Reform Society argue it’s more essential than ever, given the huge demographic divides and the differing trustworthiness of different information sources, for all voters to access comprehensive, independent resources on the referendum. The ERS are calling for the public to use Better Referendum - an impartial online toolkit on the vote,, featuring both official campaigns and independent experts discussing a variety of central issues.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“While it’s great that people are getting their information about the EU from a variety of sources, in these last couple of days it’s crucial that voters get the facts and opinions from both sides to help them reach an informed decision. The debate has been incredibly negative and left many still searching for answers to fundamental questions about the UK’s relationship with the EU.

“The big demographic divides in how people are getting their information shows that we need to do all we can to create a level playing field in this last couple of days, in order to ensure we’ve had a genuinely balanced debate with equal access to the views and facts. There’s a real concern that some voters will just be getting their views from whichever ‘echo chambers’ they are part of – and that we could have a decision based on one-sided information sources.

“Our Better Referendum tool aims to bring all the arguments and the facts on the big issues together and in one place. In this last couple of days, it’s vital that the public have all the resources they can to make a truly informed decision this Thursday.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] Representative poll of 1638 UK adults, conducted online between 10th and 16th June. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (details above).

[3] BetterReferendum.org.uk (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) has being launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

Campaigners fear low EU ref turnout thanks to ‘toxic cocktail’ of high interest but lack of information

21st April 2016
21 Apr 2016
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BMG
BMG Research
polling
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Better Referendum

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  • For immediate release, 21st April 2016
  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The vast majority of the public are interested in the EU referendum – yet just 23% feel well informed, leading campaigners today to warn of the danger of a low turnout in June.

The polling by BMG Research [1] for the Electoral Reform Society [2] shows that over two-thirds - 68% - of the public say they are interested in the EU referendum (with 32% saying ‘very interested’ and 36% saying they’re ‘interested’).

Yet when asked how informed they feel, the BMG polling released today [3] found that just 7% report feeling ‘very well informed’, with 16% saying they feel ‘well informed’ – meaning under a quarter of people feel like they have a good level of understanding about the June 23rd vote. This is only slightly up on last month’s 16% overall [4].

The research also shows that lack of information could affect the numbers of people who turn out to vote. When asked ‘If you had more information about the main issues surrounding the EU referendum’ 23% said they would be much more likely to vote, while a further 16% said they would be ‘a little more likely to vote’ – showing around four in ten believe having more information would encourage them to turn out.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society [5], said:

“This polling shows that contrary to the popular narrative, the public aren’t bored by the EU debate – in fact, there are high levels of interest, with 7 in 10 saying they are following the conversation.

“Yet there is a real desire for balanced information from both sides – under a quarter of people say they have a good level of understanding about the referendum issues. The public feel left in the dark by an EU referendum debate that has so far focused largely on personality politics and internal party spats – more than the actual issues at stake.

“We are at risk of seeing a toxic cocktail of high levels of interest but a lack of balanced information in the debate. And that could lead to a low turnout for the referendum itself. The public need the facts, but all they are seeing so far is Westminster parlour games.

“The fact that a large proportion of the public say that if they had more information they’d be more likely to vote shows that the appetite is there to create a genuinely vibrant and well-informed EU debate.

“We will be launching our ‘Better Referendum’ resource next month, bringing together the arguments from both sides into one place – as well as allowing for extensive online debate, and the ability to organise public events through the website. We want to see the highest-quality debate possible for this crucial vote – the British public deserve no less.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

NOTES

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

[3] Polling by BMG Research of residents aged 18+ in United Kingdom. The sample size is 1518 respondents. Cross-tabs available on request.

[4] http://electoral-reform.org.uk/blog/people-feel-left-dark-eu-referendum-debate

[3] A photo of Katie Ghose is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0. The ERS’ logo is available for free use here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/co61g3209r2okcd/ERS%20Logo%20colour%20on%20white%20348%20x%20220.jpg?dl=0

The ERS will be releasing more polling on the EU in the coming weeks and months, including on:

  • How well informed voters feel about the upcoming EU referendum
  • How voters have been contacted about the referendum
  • What sources of information have been most important in helping them make their decision
  • How positive/negative voters feel the main campaigns have been
  • Whether the public would be more likely to vote if they had more information

The ERS have five recommendations for the referendum, for:

  • The Remain and Leave campaigns to commit to taking part in televised debates on the EU referendum
  • The campaigns to make voter registration a key plank of their plans
  • The campaigns to support initiatives aimed at giving citizens a chance to debate the issues in more depth, for example by providing speakers for local debates
  • The campaigns to commit to a ‘Ceasefire Week’, where both sides only put out the positive cases for their arguments
  • Media organisations, relevant public bodies and non-governmental organisations to commit to providing balanced coverage of the debate, including clear and comprehensible facts on Britain’s relationship with the EU

Find out more at: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/better-referendum