There is no question on renegotiation, but if one assumes that the first two categories would go for that option, we are looking at 41 percent – against 26 percent wanting out. That is not an untypical result, very close to the 42-34 percent finding in the July 2012 YouGov survey.
Why the speech should not have had more of an impact is perhaps explainable in terms of people simply not believing that the referendum promise is real, oir a feeling that it is completely undeliverable. We seem to have a perverse situation where, in order to enjoy a sustained surge in the polls, the Tories need already to be ahead, to give the promise credibility.
On the other hand, now that we are seeing an upsurge in europhile propaganda, the likelihood is that sentiment will harden against the “EU-out” proposition. And give also that the europhile attack is focused on the referendum itself, we may even see the strength behind calls for a referendum diminish.
Add to this the boundary vote, and the prospect of a Conservative win at the next election begins to look so unlikely that the referendum promise will have little immediate traction.
However, there is a wildcard here. Consistently, Cameron is scoring much higher in polls than is Miliband. If we see a firming up of the presidential-style of campaigning, we could have voters choosing between a (relatively) popular leader of an unpopular party, and an unpopular leader of a (relatively) popular party. In such circumstances, the polls may find it hard to predict a winner.
Nevertheless, if the Tories do drag themselves out of their mid-term rut and begin to show a lead, the referendum promise may start to have a real impact, reinforcing the lead. In those circumstances, Miliband may feel inclined to neutralise the effect, by also promising a referendum.
While it is thus difficult at this stage to see Cameron’s promise materialising, we might not get any serious indicators until after the euro-elections next year. Certainly, the game is not yet over – and nor will it go away.