The U.K.’s Bradley/Wilder Effect Is Enough To Swing Elections.
The polls immediately before the election leaned “Remain” or showed a 44%-to-44% tie, with 12% undecided. The referendum’s result was 52%-to-48% “Leave.” The idea that the undecideds broke 2-to-1 for “Leave”—against the status quo—is not tenable. That said, the pollsters are not at fault. The pollsters cannot conduct an accurate poll because voters are unwilling to tell pollsters how they intend to vote. It is that simple.
Why are the voters doing this?
The UK now has its own version of America’s Bradley/Wilder effect: people—decent, ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding people—are afraid of abuse and reprisals if they reveal their true political preferences. People are tactically deceiving the pollsters because the pattern-and-practice of British politics is now:
(i) to demonize opponents;
(ii) to invade and shut down their peaceful political meetings and conferences (and then to “justify” speech suppression as “free speech” or other lawful protest);
(iii) to threaten and physically assault their party leaders and members;
(iv) to destroy their political posters and/or to paint over them (and then to call their vandalism “art”); and,
(v) to use the state’s regulatory authorities against private citizens for expressing (or, merely, holding) unpopular political views.
Some on the political left are doing this, but it is not just the left. It is nationalist hooligans in Scotland, and the Tory leader. Eg: Cameron calling UKIP supporters “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.”
Unfortunately, this behaviour is not entirely new. As one MP warned many years ago:
In the hundreds upon hundreds of letters I received when I last spoke on th[e] subject [of immigration] two or three months ago, there was one striking feature which was largely new and which I find ominous. All Members of Parliament are used to the typical anonymous correspondent; but what surprised and alarmed me was the high proportion of ordinary, decent, sensible people, writing a rational and often well-educated letter, who believed that they had to omit their address because it was dangerous to have committed themselves to paper to a Member of Parliament agreeing with the views I had expressed, and that they would risk penalties or reprisals if they were known to have done so. The sense of being a persecuted minority which is growing among ordinary English people in the areas of the country which are affected [by mass immigration] is something that those without direct experience can hardly imagine.
Address to the Annual General Meeting of the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre (Birmingham, Midland Hotel 1968). It goes without saying that, when the author of those words made that statement, he was called—wait for it—a racist.
If a society permits those who engage in wilful violence and those that command the police & the revenue office to drive normal political expression underground, then that society will not have normal political expression. One consequence of the lack of normal political expression is that every poll will lack validity.*
* Mrs T takes this claim one step further: there is no good reason to believe the frequently asserted claim that Britain’s “Youth” voted “Remain” (that is, voted “Remain” more than any other demographic). Who is more likely to be shamed into hiding their political preferences? Who is more likely subject to peer pressure?
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SethBTillman (@SethBTillman )
My most recent prior post: Seth Barrett Tillman, Reflections on the Revolution in the UK: Part 1: It Is All Cameron’s Fault, The New Reform Club (June 30, 2016, 3:40 AM).
My other Brexit posts include:
Seth Barrett Tillman, The Message of the UK’s Brexit Referendum and Fintan O’Toole’s Fantasy, The New Reform Club (June 28, 2016, 2:42 AM);
Seth Barrett Tillman, Dewey beats Truman ... Dewey beats Truman ... Dewey beats Truman ..., The New Reform Club (June 24, 2016, 10:32 AM);