Analysis of backing for Remain and Leave suggests that the two sides are appealing to very different types of supporters, and the country is sharply divided on the issue of Brexit on educational, income, age, and geographical grounds.
To better understand the differing nature of support for Remain and Leave, we’ve created the Remain Index and the Leave Index.
These compare propensity to vote for Remain and Leave against the national average. In the analysis below, an Index score of 100 is average, showing the group is no more or less likely than average to vote for that side. Scores above 100 indicate a greater level of support, and scores below 100 a lower than average level of support. All analysis is based on more than 8,000 interviews, conducted both online and by telephone, that informed our investigation into the differences between phone and online polling for the UK’s EU membership referendum.
The Remain Index
The strongest supporters for Remain are those in still in full time education. Students are more than 50% more likely than the average voter to back Remain. Relatedly, those aged 18-24 are the 2nd strongest supports of Remain.
Indeed, Remain over-indexes for support across all younger age groups and amongst all university educated groups. Those educated to a higher university degree level are around a third more likely to support Remain than average, with those educated to degree level about a fifth more likely than average to back the UK’s membership of the EU. Like their younger counterparts, those aged 25 – 34 and aged 35 – 44 also disproportionately back Remain.
Geographically, it is Scotland and London that show the strongest support for Remain. Scotland’s Remain Index is 123, while London’s is 115. Those who have travelled abroad in recent years also tend to back the UK remaining in the EU.
Demographically, socio-economic groups AB and C1 both lean towards supporting Britain’s membership of the EU. These groups, broadly speaking, represent Britain’s middle class, professionals, and administrative workers.
The Remain Index reveals the portrait of the strongest supporters of Stronger In: younger voters, those university educated or still studying, in professional roles, and living in London or Scotland.
Politically, the Remain Index delivers few surprises. Remain support is more likely to be drawn from Labour, Liberal Democrat, and SNP voters. Conservative voters are less likely to support Remain and UKIP voters, of course, significantly under-index on support for Remain.
The Leave Index
Support for the UK leaving the EU is dominated by older age groups. Those aged 55-64 and 65+ are second and third strongest supporters for Leave. The fourth strongest group, retired people, are closely linked to these age groups. All these groups have well above average Leave Index scores of 125, 123, and 123 respectively.
The strongest supporters of Leave, however, are those without formal education (with a Leave Index of 148). Just as those with university educations lean towards Remain, those without a university education all tend to support Leave. Those educated at secondary level have a Leave Index of 117.
Both socio-economic groups C2 and DE disproportionately back the UK leaving the EU. Together these groups can, generally, be seen as working-class voters, working in skilled and unskilled manual roles, as well as those dependent on state benefits.
Geographically, much of England over-indexes on support for Leave. While London and the North East back Remain, East Anglia, the Midlands, the South West, North West and North East all tend towards supporting Brexit, with Eastern England and the West Midlands particularly strong in doing so.
Differences emerge by housing tenure too. Those renting socially (either from a council or housing association) tend to back leaving the EU, while those renting privately are strong supporters of Remain. Those owning their own home, but still paying a mortgage, lean somewhat towards Remain, while those who have paid-off their mortgages back Brexit.
The Leave Index reveals the strongest Vote Leave supporters: older and retired people, those without university educations, in manual roles, and living in England (but outside London).
Remain and Leave, therefore, are appealing to very different voters and the country is fragmented on the EU Referendum.