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Public expect Remain victory by 3-1 margin, and Brexit supporters anticipate defeat

A majority of both MPs and members of the public, regardless of the outcome they would personally prefer, believe that the result of the upcoming EU referendum is going to be a Remain victory.

Three times as many members of the public expect that the Remain campaign will win the referendum in June than believe that the result will be a victory for the Leave campaign (64% vs 21%). This trend is also evident amongst MPs; four times as many MPs expect the Remain campaign to win as expect the result to be a victory for the Leave campaign (79% vs 19%).

Predictions chart

The expectation that the outcome of the referendum is going to be a victory for Remain is also held amongst those planning to vote to Leave. Nearly half (48%) of the public who are planning to vote to Leave believe that the referendum will result in a Remain victory, whilst 42% expect that the Leave campaign will win.

Amongst those who are unsure how they will vote in the referendum, nearly half (47%) expect that Remain will win the referendum and the same proportion (47%) say they don’t know what the result will be. Just 6% of those who are undecided how to vote in the referendum expect that the Leave campaign will win it.

Conservative MPs are more likely than their peers to think that the referendum will result in a Leave victory. A quarter (25%) of Conservative MPs believe the outcome of the referendum is going to be a victory for the Leave campaign, whilst the same is true of just 7% of Labour MPs. Ultimately however, three-quarters (73%) of Conservative MPs believe the referendum will result in a Remain victory.

Although MPs and the public agree that the referendum will result in a Remain victory, the nature of the victory expected varies greatly. Eight-in-ten (79%) MPs believe that the outcome of the referendum will be a Remain victory, but a majority also believe that the victory will be a narrow one. Half of MPs believe that the result will be a narrow remain victory, with a vote share below 55%. Just 4% believe the referendum will result in a clear remain victory.

In comparison, 64% of the public believe that the outcome of the referendum will be a Remain victory. Though they are still more likely to think that the victory will be narrow than clear, the public are much more split on this than MPs are. One-in-three (34%) believe that the referendum will result in a narrow remain victory, whilst one-in-ten (10%) think that the result will be a clear remain victory, with a vote share greater than 60%.

As the date of the referendum approaches, much has been made of the impact that turnout levels could have on the result.

Both MPs and members of the public believe there will be a relatively high turnout at the EU referendum, though not as high as was seen in the Scottish referendum. The public predict a slightly higher turnout than their elected representatives do. On average, MPs believe that there will be a turnout of 63% whilst the public believe that there will be a turnout of 67%. By way of comparison, there was a turnout of 42% in the 2011 AV Referendum, and a turnout of 66% in the 2015 General Election.

Populus surveyed 2,109 UK adults online between 18 and 19 May 2016. Data is weighted to be nationally representative. Data tables – http://www.populus.co.uk/poll/eu-referendum-survey/

Populus interviewed 109 MPs on the Populus MP Panel between 25 March and 28 April 2016. Results are weighted to be representative of the House of Commons. Data tables – http://www.populus.co.uk/poll/eu-referendum-mp-panel/

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