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The EU Referendum: three weeks out and everything to play for

June 03rd, 2016 - Posted by Mary Frericks in Political Media Tracker, Media Monitoring

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union (EU) or leave?  This is the question registered voters will be receiving on postal ballot papers this week as the United Kingdom prepares to vote on continued membership of the EU on Thursday 23 June.

LexisNexis has been tracking the online and social media profile of each campaign throughout the debate by monitoring three key elements; 'Coverage over Time', 'Share of Voice' and 'Article Sentiment'.  With less than one month left for Remain and Leave campaigners to make their case to potential voters, is media profile matching up to predictions at the polls?

A significant boost to Leave

Official migration figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released this month revealed net migration to the UK rose to 333,000 in 2015 – the second highest figure on record – with annual migration to the UK from inside the EU reaching the previous record high of 184,000.

A recent ORB International survey carried out following the release of the statistics showed the Leave campaign has 46 per cent of voting intention share, moving five points ahead from its position the previous week.   

With three weeks left before the EU Referendum voting deadline, the LexisNexis 'Share of Voice' tracker demonstrates a significant boost for the Leave campaign following increased media focus on UK immigration policy.  'Share of Voice' for immigration at the time of writing is more than 43%.   

A crucial time for both campaigns

The LexisNexis 'Coverage over Time' tracker shows the Leave campaign has dominated the media for much of the campaign.  While the Remain campaign's media profile has briefly moved ahead on several occasions, media interest in the ONS migration statistics has prompted a substantial increase in media profile for the Leave campaign across print, online and social media.

The media was awash with political attacks on Prime Minister David Cameron for failure to meet his election pledge to limit migration to tens of thousands.  Particular note was given to Sir Lynton Crosby, David Cameron's election strategist who, analysing the results for The Daily Telegraph, suggested that "increasing focus on lack of control over immigration and associated message discipline" had boosted support for the Leave campaign.

The political strategist also expressed how crucial the next three weeks will be for campaigning groups to seize undecided voter attention, stating: "now is the time for both campaigns to put in the hard work".

Will people turn up?

While voting intention is central to the success of either campaign, so is the likelihood of people carrying out their right to vote, particularly those that have not yet settled in either camp. 

Surveys conducted by polling company YouGov suggest that voters supporting the Leave campaign are more likely to vote than Remain supporters.  If this proves to be true, a lower voting turnout could be damaging to the Remain campaign and the UK's prospects of continued EU membership. 

The recent media profile boost for the Leave campaign has not dented enthusiasm for the bookmakers.  Appearing to be more convinced than ever the UK will vote to remain in the EU, odds for Remain have been slashed this week to 2/9 and odds on the UK leaving the EU currently stand at 4/1.  

The LexisNexis political tracker shows that changes in media profile for each campaign continues to show a strong correlation with debate and public opinion insight gained from surveys.  But despite continued polling and a confident bookmaker position, predicting the outcome of the EU Referendum is impossible.

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