Britain has voted to leave the European Union. The news surprised many people, including the British, who have learned that while brushing off early statistical warnings is tempting, it doesn’t make it any easier when those warnings turn out to be right. Give yourselves a break, I say: Polls are fickle, anecdote is limited, and prevailing wisdom is sometimes impossible to shake. (Though these remorseful Brexit voters don’t have an excuse.)
There’s a silver lining for statistics, however. With the close of Britain’s referendum, political analysts now have a concrete dataset to examine: the actual vote totals in the United Kingdom. This data, when matched with regional demographic information from the U.K. Census, gives insight into who actually voted to leave or remain.
While it’s impossible to know how every person in Britain voted—secret ballot and all that—it is possible to infer how broad demographic groups feel about the Brexit by analyzing vote totals from different areas. For instance, if districts with high concentrations of Jedi knights had consistently higher “Remain” turnout, one can infer that the followers of The Force are in favor of unification.
Setting aside Scotland and Northern Ireland—which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union—leaves more than 300 local authority districts, each with a different popluation mix.