Financial expectations of Brexit for UK voters

06/22/2016 10:40 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The latest YouGov polling has the Brexit vote in a dead heat: 44 percent of British voters want the UK to leave the EU, 42 percent want the UK to stay in the EU, and 9% don't know how they will vote yet. The detailed data offers some interesting insight into the reasons behind the voting. Leave voters think about social issues, while stay voters stress economic concerns. Both sides think the other side's concerns are non-existent. We have been tracking British voters weekly on their financial expectations using the mobile platform Pollfish; our repeated repeated cross-sections reinforce and extend YouGov's findings.

On issues involving the economy and foreign affairs, stay voters see negative consequences of leaving, while leave voters think there will be no impact. Of those that want to remain in the EU, 78 percent think Britain would be economically worse off, and just 4 percent think Britain would be economically better off if they leave. But, there is no symmetry: Only 45 percent of the those that want to leave think Britain would be better off economically if they leave, with 43 percent thinking it will make no difference. Similarly, 77 percent of stay voters think leaving the EU would be bad for jobs, but only 44 percent of leave voters think it would be good for jobs. Forty-seven percent of leave voters think it will make no real difference for jobs. Stay voters are worry about pensions, with 52 percent thinking it would be bad for pensions, but 64 percent of leave voters say it would make no difference. Finally, 78 percent of stay voters think Britain would have less influence in the world, but, of leave voters, only 31 percent think this will increase influence with 59 percent saying it would make no difference.

On a personal level, stay voters think they will be worse off financially, but leave voters think Brexit will have no impact. Fifty-six percent of stay voter think they will be worse off financially, but just 5 percent of leave voters think that. Sixty-six percent of leave voters think there will be no difference from the vote.

On social questions, especially immigration, leave voters think leaving will make a big change, but stay voters think it will make no impact. Eighty-five percent of leave voters think there would be less immigration if Britain leaves. But, 54 percent of stay voters think it will make no difference, with 27 percent thinking less immigration, and 8 percent thinking more immigration.

While the polling is nearly tied, the prediction markets now show a 75 percent likelihood of the UK staying the EU. This value has shifted a lot over the last few weeks. During the week of June 6 it was cruising at 75 percent, but by June 13 it had dipped down to 60 percent, only shooting back up in the last few days. By polling people weekly, we were able to capture some interesting dynamics as the probability of staying dipped dramatically.

Above we chart the expectations for the financial success of the family (above) and Britain (below) over the next 12 months. the blue line shows the earlier week of June 6, when it seemed unlikely Brexit would pass, while the red line shows June 13, where the likelihood of Britain voting to leave increased dramatically.

The expectations of the financial success of the family is more volatile in the second week for those who want to stay in the EU, but the expectation for the country is dramatically lower. This meshes well with the YouGov data, which shows slightly negative expectations for personal finances, but overwhelming concern for the country, from stay voters, if the UK left the EU. But, the volatility is interesting to see on the family side, as well as the intensity of the concern for the country. The intensity bodes well for potential turnout on the stay-side.

The expectations of the financial success of the family and country increase slightly for the leave voters. Again, this consistent with the YouGov data. It is likely the the intensity on the leave-side was lessened this week by the connection to the tragic assassination of a pro-stay lawmaker and the assassin's ties to far-right groups.

But, the most interesting thing is that the unsure voters actually showed a much larger shift towards expected growth for the British economy, if the UK leaves the EU. There is a selection effect here. Unsure voters shrunk between the weeks, and it may be that the more pessimistic voters switched to remain in EU, which gained some vote-share in our poll. But, the remain camp should be concerned about optimism of the remainder of the unsure voters. Traditionally these groups break towards stability, but there are very few of these types of elections on which to build our models.

Follow the latest predictions in real-time on PredictWise. This article was written jointly with my rock-star graduate student Sam Corbett-Davies of Stanford.