Leading economist develops election opinion poll alternative

Brexit
13 April 2016

Professor of Economics David Bell has developed a tracker based on bookmakers odds - shown to be more accurate than opinion polls – to predict the outcomes of elections.

Currently tracking the EU Referendum, the predictor shows a 33 percent chance of the UK leaving Europe, a drop of 6 percent since a high of 39 percent in November 2015.  This is in contrast to the opinion polls which show the Remain and Leave campaigns to be neck and neck.

Professor Bell said: “The tracker is a tried and tested model. I used it for the 2014 Scottish Referendum and was confident that the outcome would be a small majority vote to remain in the UK, based on tracking betting odds.

"Opinion polls have become discredited since failing to predict the winner of last year's UK general election. The problem with them is that they use different sampling methods whereas betting data is collecting more frequently and consistently, giving a truer picture of people’s voting intentions.”

Hosted on media channel The Conversation, the predictor - which shows the peaks and troughs of BREXIT betting from May 2015 -  will be updated regularly in the run up to the EU Referendum on June 23, 2016.

Background information

Media enquiries to Corrinne Gallagher, Communications Officer, on 01786 466 687 or corrinne.gallagher@stir.ac.uk

Notes to Editors 

Professor Bell has written an opinion editorial for The Conversation which can be viewed, along with the Election Prediction Tracker here.

Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling since 1990, Professor Bell is an expert in UK public finances and has made significant contributions to the devolved parliaments.

He was Budget Adviser to the Finance Committee at the Scottish Parliament from 2007 to 2013 and has also made appearances and contributions to the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive.

In July 2015, he was appointed as the specialist advisor to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. 

He has also undertaken leading research into youth unemployment and the labour market in Scotland, across the UK and Europe.

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