The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is up here and has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 5%. There are some questions on the political leaders (particularly Ed Miliband in advance of this week’s Labour conference), but they show the usual pattern – David Cameron is more trusted than Ed Miliband on the Conservatives’ strong issues like law and order and the economy, Ed Miliband does better on Labour’s strong issues like the NHS. Ed Miliband’s own ratings remain mediocre.

On the Scottish referendum 32% think David Cameron handled it well, 54% badly. 25% think Ed Miliband handled the referendum well, 48% badly. Asked about English devolution 71% of people thought that Scottish MPs should not be able to vote on issues that affect only England (including the majority of Scottish respondents in the poll), 15% of people thought they should. On the Barnett formula there was a predictable result – English respondents thought it should be scrapped and Scottish funding reduced, Scottish respondents that it shouldn’t.

Survation also had a poll out today and found similar levels of support for some sort of re-arrangement of the constitution for England: 65% said that Scottish MPs should by banned from voting on English laws at Westminster, 59% would support an English Parliament. There is a crucial caveat though – Survation also asked what the top priority should be for the government – 31% said immigration, 20% the economy, 9% jobs, 9% public services, 6% combating terrorism and down on 5% constitutional reform. Don’t look at polls showing large majorities supporting English votes on English Laws and assume it also means people think the issue is urgent or important. It only means support is widespread, not that people necessarily think it should be a priority.


As I write there is still one council to declare, but the maths mean that the overall result is going to be Yes 45%, No 55%. So, how did the polls do?

The final pre-election polls had all tightly converged around the same figures – Yes 48%, No 52%, with every company was within one point of this. In fact the level of No support was three points higher than this. For a single poll a three point error would be within the margin of error, but every poll being off in the same direction suggests some systemic error.

A possibility is the shy noes/enthusiastic yesses we discussed before the referendum, but on the face of it a simpler explanation is just late swing. The YouGov recontact survey on the day, going back to the same people they interviewed in their final survey found enough movement between final survey to actually voting to take the figures to YES 46%, NO 54%, one point from the actual result and enough to explain the apparent divergence. From that it looks as though no was going to win anyway, but there was a further movement from yes to no when people actually got to the polling station.


As people have reported and grumbled, there is no proper exit poll tonight for the Scottish referendum (the defining feature of an exit poll is that it’s done outside actual polling stations as people exit. They are very expensive, and no one commissioned one!). We are hence going to have to wait for the actual results.

The only 10pm polling news we have is that YouGov did a recontact of the people who took part in their final poll during the day today to check for any late swing – amongst those people they did find some movement from YES to NO since the final polling, producing a final YouGov prediction of YES 46%, NO 54% (details are here). Lord Ashcroft also apparently did some polling during the day asking about people’s reasons for voting how they did – those results will be out tomorrow.

Given we aren’t likely to have any proper result for six or seven hours I’m going to catch some sleep and then wake up for some real results, but feel free to discuss the early results as they come in here.


The very last pre-election poll of the referendum campaign is by Ipsos MORI, for the Standard, and has topline figures of YES 47%, NO 53%. Once again, it is bang in line with all other other companies, who to a man (or woman) have YES between 47%-49%, NO between 51-53%. Full result for the MORI poll will, in due course, be here.


It’s been a long journey, but we’ve finally arrived at the eve-of-referendum polls. For a lot of the Scottish referendum campaign the discussion about polls was one of right or wrong – we had lots of polls showing the same trend (flatlining!), but showing different absolute figures. Companies like MORI, TNS and YouGov were showing big NO leads; companies like Panelbase and Survation were showing a tight race. Then we had a period of some companies showing a strong movement towards YES, some not, and we have ended up with everyone showing much the same figures (what was the true picture earlier in the campaign we will never know for sure – by definition you can check eve-of-election results against reality, but never mid-term ones). With one MORI poll still to come, here are the YES shares in the latest polls from each company (taking the online and telephone methodologies seperately for those companies who have done both):

Ipsos MORI (phone) 49%
ICM (phone) 49%
TNS (face to face) 49%
YouGov (online) 48%
Panelbase (online) 48%
ICM (online) 48%
Opinium (online) 48%
Survation (online) 48%
Survation (phone) 47%%

Essentially everyone is predicting the same result, the margin of error on most of the polls is around plus/minus 3%, every poll is within two percentage points of the others. This isn’t going to be a case of individual pollsters getting it right or wrong, they’ll either all be around about right or all be horribly out.

There’s a temptation when the polls are like this to say YES and NO are within the margin of error, that it’s “too close to call”. It doesn’t really work like that – these polls are showing NO ahead. The margin of error is on each individual poll, and it’s equally likely to happen in both directions. Hence if the “true” balance of public opinion in Scotland was 50/50 we’d expect to see a random scattering of results around that point, some polls showing yes, some polls showing no. We’re not seeing that. We’re seeing polls randomly scattered around the 48/52 mark, suggesting that’s most likely where public opinion is – a very small lead for the NO campaign.

It’s possible there will be a very late swing, that people will have changed their minds in the last few hours or in the polling station itself. In most polls there really aren’t that many don’t knows left to make their minds up though.

The alternative route to an upset is if the polls are wrong, if there is some systemic issue above and beyond normal random sampling error that affects polls from all the companies. I wrote yesterday about what the potential risks are – the main challenges in my view are first whether people who are on the fringes of society and normally play little part in politics don’t get picked up in polls but do vote; and secondly whether there has been an issue of differential response rate, have the obviously more enthusiastic yes voters been more willing to take part in polling that no voters are?

Personally I’m a little more worried about the latter – I think there’s more chance of the polls ending up underestimating the NO vote than the YES vote, but there comes a time when you just have to trust the data. The polls say the result will be around about YES 48%, NO 52%. We will see on Friday morning.