An exclusive BMG Research poll commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society found that young people are far less engaged in the debate compared with older voters, and there are huge variations in how people are getting information.

The results revealed that under half of 18-24 year olds say they will definitely vote (47%) compared with eight in ten of those aged 65 or older (80%). These figures have slightly increased since the last poll in April (41% and 76% respectively).

These findings reflect the general disconnect among young people as just one in six 18 to 24 year olds say they feel either ‘well informed’ or ‘very informed’ with the EU debate (16%) compared with almost a third of those aged 65+ (32%). Compared with the same figures from April, the number of 18-24s who feel informed has seen a six percentage point drop from 22%.

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The poll also found that young people are still not being reached by the campaigns. Almost one third of 18-24s say that they have not yet been contacted about the referendum (32%) compared with just 13% of those aged 65+.

There are also marked differences across younger and older people in how they have been contacted about the referendum. Those aged 18 to 24 are much more likely to have been contacted via social media (32%) compared with just 11% of those aged 65+. Whilst just under half of 18-24s say they have received a letter or leaflet (49%) compared with 84% of those aged 65 or over.

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Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “These findings show that a stark generation gap persists when it comes to how engaged people are in the EU referendum debate. Young people simply haven’t been mobilised by either of the campaigns. The fact that interest hasn’t picked up since the end of March suggests that this problem is entrenching itself or even getting worse. And the huge 33 percentage point chasm between young and old when it comes to whether they will ‘definitely’ vote bodes badly for our democracy when it comes to ensuring we have as representative a vote as possible. This is compounded by the fact that double the proportion of 65+ voters say they feel well informed about the referendum compared to 18-24 year olds.

“With Leave and Remain close in the polls, campaigners need to be targeting those young people who have been least engaged so far. One in five 18-34 year olds are undecided – but only 47% of them say they’ll definitely vote as things stand. A low turnout among young people isn’t inevitable however, as we saw with the Scottish referendum. But they need to be inspired to get out there.

“The campaigns need to make sure younger people are registered – around four million 18-24 year olds are unregistered, so with under six weeks to go until the referendum, we need extra efforts to encourage them to sign up in colleges, universities and workplaces across the country.”

“This referendum shouldn’t be decided by one generation on behalf of another – this is a vital national conversation that needs to involve everyone, not just older voters. Let’s call time on the EU referendum generation gap to make sure this really is a truly national conversation.”

The Electoral Reform Society and leading universities have released a new online democratic tool for the EU vote, Better Referendum which allows people to organise EU debates in their local area rather than relying on what they describe as ‘one-sided’ leaflets.

A press release based on these polling results, released by the Electoral Reform Society, can be found here.

Data tables containing a breakdown of the results can be found here

Data tables containing a breakdown of likelihood to vote can be found here

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or

For any other results from our polling series, please feel free to get in touch with BMG by email or phone.



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Untitled2  Lauren Harris – Research Executive


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