The Irish constitutional referendum 1986

Date of publication: June 15, 1986

Author: Jack Jones

Abstract:

This paper outlines the role and impact of opinion polls during the two years preceding the recent Irish Constitutional Referendum on divorce, and also in the final stages of the actual campaign. In doing so, it emphasises the relevance of professional interpretation of published polls and highlights the accuracy of the pre-referendum polls in detecting initial trends, and the subsequent swing towards a rejection of the amendment. Two primary factors which contributed to the final result - which are based exclusively on opinion poll findings - are also identified, and commented upon. Finally the paper aims to provide a response to the post-referendum charge of some Irish commentators who claimed that, again, the "polls got it wrong".

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