Do voters want an election, a referendum, or neither?

Speculation over how the public would vote in a general election or second referendum is now commonplace in the media but there is less discussion of whether the public wants either option.

In a recent poll by Ipsos Mori, the public was asked whether they wanted “an immediate general election”.

A total of 44% said they were in favour of a snap poll, with 27% opposed. As many as 29% said they were neither in favour nor against, or that they did not know.

There were similar outcomes when both Opinium and YouGov asked voters whether a general election should be held if Brexit were delayed, as it has now been.

A study found recently that 42% of Conservative voters back a general election, compared with 31% of Labour voters who support this as the next move.

Writing for the BBC, Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said: “These figures hardly suggest widespread enthusiasm for an election.”

Enthusiasm is only slightly higher for a second referendum, according to most polls.

When Panelbase and YouGov asked voters whether an election or a fresh referendum would end the Brexit deadlock, both found about 40% supported a referendum, while around 33% chose an election.

However, a poll last week by Opinium saw 31% support an election and 23% a referendum, a rare example of preference for an election.

Many voters now think the first referendum was a bad idea. According to an Opinium poll for The Observer last weekend, twice as many people now think it would have been better never to have held a referendum on Brexit than believe it was a good idea.

Some 57% of UK adults surveyed said that they believed it would have been better not to have had a public vote in June 2016, as opposed to 29% of voters who believe it was the right thing to do.

Among those who voted to leave in 2016, 57% said that they believed it was the correct decision, against 32% who now think the opposite.

Less surprisingly, of those who voted to remain in the EU 87% agreed and only 7% said it was a good idea.

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