Brexit: Lived experience and the problems of polling

The political and diplomatic storm that is the UK’s exit from the European Union has rocked an insight industry whose political arm failed to foresee the decision.

The what and the when of Brexit is clear, the why rather less so. Researchers and polling professionals didn’t see it coming but it is now apparent that the United Kingdom is a complicated and divided country, one that belies its name.

During the opening keynote of the MRS Impact conference (London, March 2018), Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, admitted to a widely held view: her confidence in the insight profession had taken a wobble in 2016, a profound wobble that has continued to afflict the industry. How did so many polls get it so wrong, twice?

Yet Brexit,...

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