The more the public learns about the attractions of being able to rank candidates in order of preference, the more people will like it.However if you read this UK polling report the exact opposite is the case:
The last Populus poll for the Times (split)... the sample, giving half of them just the bare referendum question and half of them a brief description of what the options were – describing AV as a system where “voters number the candidates they like in order of preference, and the candidate who gets more than half the support of the voters in the constituency is elected”.
With the bare question, 41% supported YES, 29% supported NO ... When given an explanation of the systems the figures were 29% YES, 43% NO .
People do appear to like the idea of a change of electoral system, but are more doubtful when told about what AV actually is.
I have personally changed my mind on electoral reform in the past year, and I know I am now out of step with many other people on my f-list. I do not think the proposed change to AV is a good move. A big factor for me was the large number of Lib Dems saying to me 'There is nothing complicated about it... very simple... just rank candidates in order of preference.' Nothing to see here - the old Lib Dem message.
This set off warning bells, and I now think there is a belief in the remaining Lib Dems - the right wing sympathisers - that they can manipulate the new system to carry through right wing policies which do not have the support of the majority of British people. As I have said so often - if the British people want this country to veer rightwards there is nothing I can do. I won't like it, but I will get by. I do not believe this is what people want.
It seems transparent to me that Lib Dems think they can proffer themselves as some kind of Tory-lite party, by opposing one or two of the more rabid proposals in the next Tory manifesto. All this stuff about 'How hard can it be, nothing to see here, order of preference, just sign on the dotted line' is because they think they can pick up second (or third or fourth) choice votes in marginal constituencies, and thereby squeak through in - what - maybe ten seats? Then support the extreme policies which they stood on a platform of opposing.
Now, if AV is introduced, people like me will have to work with that system, we will have to ensure people realise that you do not have to rank candidates in order of preference, you do not have to give your vote to a party you despise. I am hopeful that such a meta-campaign will be successful. So a 'yes' on AV isn't a closing of the book or anything. However, the current yes-campaign includes a misrepresentation, and I think if the referendum is carried this misrepresentation will continue, as a dishonest framing of the choices which face the electorate.
ETA - I think the key is the difference between 'Vote for every candidate that you like, in order of preference' (this is the correct message) and 'Rank the candidates in order of preference' (this is a misleading message). The fact that people are already eliding the difference between these positions makes me very concerned.