Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lisbon Treaty on knife-edge - poll

The final poll of the Lisbon Campaign shows a statistical dead-heat 4 days before polling-day. The Red C poll in the Sunday Business Post has the yes side on 42% (+1) while the "No" side are on 39% (+6). The gap between the Yes and No camps has closed even further in today’s poll, leaving the race too close to call. The Yes camp secures almost the same proportion of voters as it did two weeks ago, with 42 per cent of all Irish citizens claiming they will vote Yes, an increase of just 1 per cent. Simultaneously, the No camp’s share of the vote has rocketted by 6 per cent in the past two weeks, with 39 per cent of all Irish citizens claiming that they will vote No.

This leaves just 19% of all voters still undecided a week before polling day. If this 19% who are undecided were to vote in the same way as those who currently declare an opinion, the referendum would just be carried with 52% voting in favour of the treaty and 48% voting against.But this is really too close to call based on the poll being taken a full week before voting day and the fact that sample error is plus or minus 3 per cent.The momentum also appears to be with the No campaigners, as the trend over the past four weeks has seen them increase their declared share of the vote by a massive 10%, while the Yes campaigners have only made 4 per cent gains in the same period.If this trend continues for another week the No camp may do enough to stop the ratification. Among the 50% in the poll who say they are certain to vote, the yes side lead 46 per cent to 37% However, this is the highest no vote in the history of EU referenda polling, and leaves the yes side with a far smaller lead than before the first Nice Treaty referendum in 2001, which the no side went on to win. With 17% still on the no side even among those certain they will vote, and with 6/7s of the former "Dont Knows" going to the no side to only 1/7 to the "yes" side, that strongly suggests a possible "no" victory of 51-49. Further analysis suggests that campaigners should focus in particular on persuading those in younger age groups and more deprived socio-economic groups that voting is worthwhile.The tight outcome of today’s poll suggests that the final days’ campaigning remains vital for both sides to achieve their aims, and we can expect a lot more fighting before polling day. Red C interviewed a random sample of 1,006 adults aged over 18 by telephone between May 30 and June 4.

One concern I have about this poll is the date-range during which it was taken. It was taken between May 30th and June 4th - thus taking in a period the week before last before the recent surge in the no vote seen to some extent in this poll but especially in the TNS-MRBI poll which showed the "no" side in the lead. As TNS-MRBI were more accurate predictors of the outcome of last year's General Election than Red C (whose final poll had FF on only 38% while Red C sayd 41%), and because of the disparity in date-range, I am going to conclude that consequently, the Red C poll may be o=understating the true strength of the "No" vote. Even if it is not, the fact that in almost all Irish EU referenda, the "Don't Knows" break decisively for the "No" vote, together with the clear trend of a mass-movement of undecideds into the "No" camp by a 6:1 ratio, gives me confidence that when the bvallot-boxes are opened on Friday morning, that this Treaty will have been rejected by the Irish people, and a better deal for Ireland will become possible. One which retains our right to a Commissioner, the independence of our courts from the meddling of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, does not halve our voting weight on the Council of Ministers while doubling Germany's, protects our tax veto from Articles 113 and Article 48 and which protects our right to referenda from the predatory intentions of Article 48 and the 'simplified revision procedures'. People of Ireland remember the men and women of 1916, and the dead generations who sacrificed their lives for your freedom. Do not sell it out just so Cowen doesn't have to explain himself to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels who hate democracy and are trying to foist their wishes on the unwilling peoples of Europe - notably the French and Dutch peoples whose democracy they have attacked with this Treaty. Vote no on Thursday.

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