Britons give UKIP as much chance of winning the European elections as finding life on Mars

Ipsos's Predictions Poll for 2014 reveals what the British public think is likely to happen in 2014 - compared with the odds offered by Ladbrokes.

Ipsos’s Predictions Poll for 2014 reveals what the British public think is likely to happen in 2014 – compared with the odds offered by Ladbrokes. 

Elections to the European Parliament will happen in May, and while much is being made of UKIP’s chances of a strong showing, only three in ten (29%) think it is likely that they will be the largest party – as many as think that the NASA Mars Rover will find evidence of life on Mars.  The odds from Ladbrokes suggest people are way out on UKIP’s chances – you can only get evens for UKIP to be the largest party - but 12/1 for NASA finding evidence of life on Mars. The 28% that think NASA will find life on Mars in 2014 is also an increase on the 19% that thought it would happen during 2013.

Of the nine scenarios given, the most likely, according to Britons, is that a current Premiership footballer will come out as gay, with two in three (65%) saying that is likely to happen in 2014 and 24% saying it is unlikely to happen.

Staying on football, with the World Cup six months away, most of us are already anticipating a sad end for England’s footballers with six in ten (61%) Britons believing that England will be knocked out on penalties. However, the odds offered by Ladbrokes (6/1) suggests we are perhaps too focused on previous penalty heartaches. 

The British public is far more optimistic about Prince Harry’s chances of getting engaged in 2014 than they were in 2013. 44% now think it likely that the Prince will get engaged this year, just 20% felt it would happen last year. Ladbrokes is also optimistic, with odds of 4/6 for him to get engaged, making it the most likely of our events they are giving odds on.

Despite the recent wet weather just over half (55%) of Britons think it likely that there will be a hosepipe ban in parts of Britain this year. Those in London are the least likely to think it will happen this year (39%). The odds from Ladbrokes are 2/1. 

On the international stage there is some expectation of great change this year. Around six in ten (58%) say it is likely that China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy while 45% think at least one country will leave the European Union in 2014. Here the odds and the public’s expectations are very different, Ladbrokes has odds of 50/1 on the Chinese economy taking over America’s and 10/1 on at least one country leaving the European Union.

While the public’s economic optimism rose throughout 2013, some economic concerns remain:

  • 44% of British adults believe unemployment will rise in 2014, though that is fewer than expected the same last year (56%). This contrasts with the latest figures released this week, which show another large fall in the number of people out of work.
  • Half (52%) think inflation will rise
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of the public expecting mortgage interest rates to rise (52% from 38% last year).
  • Just one in five (19%) expect their own standard of living to improve in 2014, while 63% think it will stay about the same level while 17% think it will fall. This is however a significant improvement on predictions at the beginning of 2013, when 31% expected their standard of living to fall over the year.

Finally, four in ten Britons (39%) expect there to be more riots across the UK similar to those seen in 2012. This shows no change from last year when 38% said it was likely to happen.

Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of Ipsos Social Research Institute said:  

"Predictions are very tricky – as we’ve seen recently, economists and government struggle with forecasting how the economy will do, and are often surprised by better or worse figures than expected.  It’s therefore a bit tough to expect the public to have a clearer picture of the future on these sorts of issues – the “wisdom of crowds” clearly has limits." “But it also suggests big gaps in knowledge of some key issues – we may not expect everyone to know that China has virtually no chance of overtaking the US as the world’s largest economy this year, but the lack of awareness of how possible UKIP being the largest party at the European elections is important, as it will be a greater surprise to people if it does happen.”  
Technical Details

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 954 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were carried out face-to-face between 10th – 16th January 2014.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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