The BBC announced yesterday that it will carry no exit poll tonight for the EU Referendum.
This caused widespread disappointment since the broadcaster’s exit poll on the night of the UK General Election in May last year was a sensation that no one has forgotten and everyone has been hungry for more of the same.
The renowned psephologist at Strathclyde University, Professor John Curtice, who masterminded the exit poll in 2015, has explained why there will be none tonight.
He says that the reason for the stunning accuracy of his 2015 exit poll, which declared a coming Conservative majority against every other poll throughout the entire campaign, was the modelling. This required revisiting the same counting stations as had been used as data sources in previous general elections.
The pattern of shifts in these data over time allowed his team to predict accurately the contemporary support for the major contesting parties last year.
The problem today is that the team has no prior evidence to draw upon to prepare an analytic model – since this is the first UK-wide referendum on this subject for forty one years. The referendum which resulted in the decision to join the then EEC was in 1975.
While Professor Curtice did not say this, his team could not possibly have extrapolated the evidence of shifting party support drawn from a series of general elections and apply it to this referendum – because voting on this issue is not dividing on party lines but on two separate issues – economic security and immigration.
The supporters of every single party are therefore divided in views on these issues.
In Scotland, there is an additional source of division for SNP voters in the possible [but not if the First Minister has anything to do with it] move to a second Scottish independence referendum, should the Scottish majority vote be for staying in the EU while the overall UK majority is for withdrawing from membership.
It is probably unlikely, although an interesting hypothetical situation would be an overall UK majority for staying in, while the Scottish majority was for coming out.
Second to the overall result tomorrow morning will be interest in the nature and proportion of the Scottish vote – and with no exit poll we will all have to wait.
There may be a result by 7am but if it’s a close call, it may be 10am or even lunchtime before there is certainty.
Whenever it comes, For Argyll is staying with the counts and we look forward to the company of some readers during the night.