why the polls tell you nothing you actually need to know

The day before the Brexit referendum, it seemed utterly impossible that the United Kingdom would vote to leave the European Union. The vast majority of polls had consistently predicted a win for Remain, but it wasn’t just that: a lifetime of unconscious induction had convinced us that things would be, more or less, the same forever. Britain might leave the EU, in the same way that your workplace might be obliterated by an asteroid impact, or that you might awake to find yourself transformed into a gigantic insect. The day after the referendum, everything felt unreal. I went outside, I walked through familiar streets, I took the Tube, the shops were open, the sky was blue, an indifferent sun gleamed on the boredom below, birds chattered apolitically in the trees, worms left their delicate and asemic coils of processed mud nestled between blades of grass, and it seemed absurd that everything could go on working as if nothing had changed. Where was the rubble? “The disaster ruins everything,” Maurice Blanchot writes, “all the while leaving everything intact.”


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