POLL ALERT: Voters split down the middle on what this election is about

Ahead of today’s European Parliament election, Number Cruncher has been asking people whether and how they intend to vote, and why.

Brexit has dominated the campaign, with many describing the election as a proxy referendum, but that’s not how everyone sees it. When asked what best describes the reason for their vote, half (49 per cent) said they wanted to express a view on the EU or Brexit. This was the motivation for 62 per cent of Leavers voting today, and 38 per cent of 2016 Remainers.

But half gave a different reason. The bulk of these (30 per cent of the total) said they “normally vote for this party”, largely Labour and Tory supporters.

Four per cent are voting on an issue other than Brexit, including around a quarter of our smallish subsample of Green voters. Thirteen per cent said their vote was a message on the state of politics generally, with little variation by referendum vote or party and three per cent said it was something else.

Which of the following, if any, best describes your reason for voting this way?

I normally vote for this party30
I want to express a view on the EU/Brexit49
I want to express a view on another issue4
I want to express a view on politics generally13
None of these3
Don’t know1

The figures mentioned above are turnout weighted in line with our voting intention figures. Forty-nine per cent said they were either 10/10 likely to vote or had already voted by post – since people consistently overestimate their likelihood of voting, these figures indicate a somewhat less than “brisk” turnout.

In terms of how people might vote, the odd circumstances and low turnout have been much discussed, but an additional factor clouding our snapshot of voting intention is that this week has, to put it mildly, been rather eventful. The fieldwork took place between Saturday and Tuesday, with the bulk of it over the weekend, and almost all of it before Theresa May’s speech. As such, the uncertainty surrounding polling estimates is much greater than usual.

It would nevertheless be a shock if Nigel Farage did not repeat his 2014 triumph when the votes are counted on Sunday. A third (33 per cent) of those likely to vote intend to back his new Brexit Party, surpassing the 2014 UKIP result. Our central estimates put Labour on 19 per cent (down 18 points from our hypothetical poll in January), the Lib Dems on 16 per cent (up 8), and the Conservatives on 15 per cent (down 21).

Because of the different franchise for European Parliament elections, this poll includes EU citizens living in Great Britain, although they are removed from the Westminster voting intention question.

Westminster VI is somewhat less dramatic than for today’s election. Labour leads on 31 per cent (-8 since January) ahead of the Conservatives on 27 (-14), the Lib Dems on 15 (+7) and the Brexit Party, which had not yet been formed at the time of our last poll, on 14 per cent.

Tables for European voting intention are available here, tables for Westminster voting intention are available here, and you can sign up to receive our latest polling and analysis here.

Number Cruncher interviewed 1,005 adults eligible to vote in European Parliament elections in Great Britain online between 18th and 21st May. Data are weighted by age, gender, education, ethnicity, region and citizenship to match the profile of the eligible voting population. Voting intention figures are additionally weighted by likelihood to vote. Image credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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