Latest Scottish polls

There are two Scottish polls in today’s papers. Panelbase in the Sunday Times has topline figures of YES 40%(nc), NO 47%(+2). In an increase for NO after three Panelbase polls in a row showing a lead of 5 points, but nothing beyond the normal margin of error.

ICM in the Scotland on Sunday have figures of YES 34%(-5), NO 46%(+4). This looks like a sudden big shift to NO, but I suspect a lot of that is a reversion to the mean. ICM’s last Scottish poll was the one showing the NO lead shrinking to just 3 points… I suspect that one was just a bit of an outlier and this is a return to normality. Even so, in John Curtice’s analysis he suggests that ICM have changed their approach to turnout in this poll, and that it would have been even worse for YES on their old method.

There is a big contrast between what different pollsters in Scotland are showing, and many people trying to read narratives and trends into the polls that aren’t really there. Even attempts at “polls of polls” are tricky because of the difference between pollsters and their uneven pattern of publication (so you can either have an average that leans towards polls that are better for YES or better for NO, or have an average than includes all pollsters but has polls that are way out of day). My view is that the best way of seeing what is happening is still the rather laborious and imprecise process of looking at trends in individual pollsters:

Taking them one at a time, and excluding don’t knows so they are comparable, ICM had YES on 40% last September, then 46% in January, then 43% in February, 46% in March, 48% in April… now 43%. ICM have been more erratic than other companies (and have messed about with their methods more) so it’s quite difficult to differentiate trend from volatility or method change.

Ipsos MORI we had YES on 34% last September, 37% in December, 36% in February. We haven’t had anything since.

Survation we had YES on 38% in January, then after a methodological change they’ve been extremely steady showing YES on a consistent 44% or 45%.

TNS-BMRB had YES on 36% in October, 38% in November, 40% in December and January, 41% in February, 40% in March, 41% in April, 42% now.

YouGov appears to show a similar steady but slow trend – 38% in September, 39% in December and January, 40% in February, 42% in March and April.

Panelbase have consistently shown better scores for YES than other companies. 44% in September, 45% in October and November, 43% and 44% in February. 47% in polls in March and April, 46% today.

My perception is still that there was a tightening in the polls at the tail end of last year after the white paper, and a very slow trend towards YES since then. The trend may well have slowed or stopped completely in recent weeks, but the single ICM poll or the normal variation in Panelbase is not enough to conclude it has reversed.

227 Responses to “Latest Scottish polls”

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  1. It has the feeling of the last few seconds of a middle-distance race, with a tired-looking frontrunner cruising towards the line, with a red-faced runner-up inching closer and closer on the final straight.

    Are there enough seconds left to make up those last few inches? Nail biting!

  2. Government comes in at many levels.

    At the local level Scotland has local councils and (I assume) regional councils too?

    At the supra-national level Scotland is partially governed by the EU and even, as we all are up to a point, by the UN.

    The choice is how to govern in between, at the national level: from Westminster or from Edinburgh. And to me, it seems that the answer lies in the question, “national level”. Is Scotland a country in it’s own right or not?

    If so, government must be from Edinburgh.

    If not, then Westminster.

    Fascinating to see what happens.

  3. @David in France,

    Except of course that words like “country” and “nation” are not really empirical descriptors, and mean different things to different people. “Nations” can be separate ethnic entities coexisting in the same geographic space. All over the world it is common to find countries composed of different “Nations”. Or at least it is by my definition of “Nation”. Yours may be different.

    My point being is that you can’t pose the question in such simple terms as “Which country are you from, Britain or Scotland?” or “What is your nationality, British or Scottish?”.

    The answer will completely depend on which concepts they attach to which word.

  4. @ Catmanjeff (Fpt)

    Thanks for the reply re Yorkshire and Humber. I don’t see it myself just looking at stats.

    Greens 8.5% last time with Con 24%, Lab 18% UKIP 17%. Lab and UKIP will both be up considerably and Con down a bit.

    I would say Lab and UKIP are certain for two seats each and Tories definitely one. The only chance for Greens is a) a significant increase in their vote which the national polls are not showing and b) either Tories to do worse than expected which in turn might allow Lab or UKIP to do better than expected and get a 3rd seat themselves.

    I think it comes down to the maths rather than an surge in support. The thing that helped the smaller parties last time was Lab being so low that they did not often get 2nd or 3rd seats.

  5. What is settled in Westminster rather than Edinburgh tends to concern British rather than Scottish matters – defence, foreign relations, etc. Many ‘national’ issues are already devolved to the Scottish Parliament and more could be without requiring independence.

  6. Just caught up with Cleggy on Andrew Marr.

    He’s going to be the ‘guarantor’ for devo-max so you Nats can sleep safely in your beds.

  7. So the Yes average is about 44-45. That is quite good for Yes considering where they were a year ago. I am still unsure about whether the weighing is reliable OldNat’s theory that the companies are practising for the EU referendum may be correct, I am sure referendum polls are difficult to weigh. We know the direction of travel but not the absolute numbers – I am sure all the companies are not completely incompetents so Yes is definitely behind but not so far that a Yes victory is hopeless.

    The Yes campaign seems to be mainly grassroots with lots of local events in my area there are one or two a week. Whether these events are just preaching to the converted is likely to an extent but undecideds do go and if a 5% swing is required these events could make the difference.

    The local news paper a solid pro-No paper is going around the towns and villages with the highly scientific ping-ping ball poll – self selecting and with folk out and about during weekday afternoons. Mostly No wins but there has been the few Yes surprise victories.

  8. @David in France

    Scotland has 32 single tier local authorities and that’s it.

  9. What is going on with ICM lately? Their European election polls are also wacky- one set with Labour in third and the Conservatives in the lead, and one set with Labour in the lead and the Conservatives in third, and none with Ukip in the lead like normal pollsters (sorry YouGov).

    @ Neil A (fpt),

    It’s not really that the Tories are recovering. They were on a solid 33% by July of last year with YouGov. Since then they’ve gained perhaps 1% (if we’re generous) or made no progress at all (if we aren’t). The falling lead is almost entirely down to a decline in the Labour vote.

    @ Howard (fpt) re. the moon,

    Have you tried curtains?

  10. “What is going on with ICM lately?”

    Hehe. I was wondering that.

  11. Chris Green @ Marco –

    “Personally I could also do without the posts about pets, and the ones about sport. If I wanted to discuss those things I’d go to websites for them. I am here because I want to discuss political polling.”


    I quite like to hear "irrelevant" bits and pieces about the lives and thoughts of people here – whether its TOH with garden, health, walking or CB11 with Footy or Neil A with his balanced views made even more accessible by understanding his police background, Anthony putting his young child to bed and so on.

    [Obviously one draws the line at Colin and Lidl prices.]

    Their/our posts give little insights and understandings as to "who" we are – just as your two posts give me insight to your own personalities.

    The lucky think thing is that, unlike with conversation in a crowded room, there is no compulsion to read all of the posts on a forum if you don't like them: problem solved.

    Anyway, owr dad isn't a pet – he's more a sort of butler.

  12. There is one other hurdle I don’t think either side has factored in. It’s all very well voting for a radical change when either 1) It’s an opinion poll, or 2) The yes side’s most likely to lose. It’s another to cast your vote when it might actually happen. It’s difficult to tell who is currently voting yes in the polls to put pressure on the devo max option.

    Having said that, Salmond might just swing things if the TV debates go very well.

    What could really do with is a method of polling questions: 1) Do you want Scotland to be independent, and 2) Do you *really* want Scotland to be independent.

  13. Nigel Farage

    ” “Where there are differential crime rates between nationalities, it is perfectly legitimate to point this out and to discuss it in the public sphere and I shall continue to do so.”

    I wonder if he has figures for this. the problem since he was given the opportunity to make a direct comparison between Romanians or Germans and just said

    “You know the difference.”

    I can easily believe that many FEEL they do, but his job as a politician is to come up with figures and, if they back him up, solutions.

  14. I still feel Scotland is on course for the 60/40 staying put % that I have predicted for ages.

    I expect it to be dismissed by Salmond as the result of that famous English Folk/Rock trio Bully, Bluff and Bluster and their evil songs.

  15. @Chris Neville Smith

    ‘re devo maxers this article by Ian McWhirter is interesting

  16. This analysis suggests that in a close result English born voters could sway the result to No.


    ” I still feel Scotland is on course for the 60/40 staying put % that I have predicted for ages.”

    We agree on this one, I’ve felt the same for a long time, so much so that I don’t bother usually bother to post when Scotland is under discussion.


    ‘Their/our posts give little insights and understandings as to “who” we are’

    I completely agree and are important components in evaluating another’s point of view.

    However, knowing your genius at surrealism, I’ve been pondering:

    ‘just as your two posts give me insight to your own personalities.’

    Two different people.. or are you detecting some sort of dissociative disorder or merely enthusiasm for the subject?

  19. @Rosie & Daisie

    If you scroll to the bottom of this link there’s figures on how people perceive the likelooodof immigrants to commit crime. I don’t think Farage’s comments will resonate anywhere as near as much as he thinks they will.

  20. The last ICM IndyRef looked like a rogue one at the time and I think they realised it too. There was a very strange piece by Martin Boon in the Scotsman putting the high Yes vote down to a ‘spiral of silence’ effect for No, which seemed a bit eccentric given that No has led in every poll. Though given that so many comment pieces in the press seem to consist of “Help, we’re being oppressed by people much less powerful than ourselves!” I suppose it fits with the spirit of the times (and indeed the Times). Though I’ve never been convinced that the ‘spiral of silence’ is a factor in online polls anyway.

    That particular poll showed that undecided voter were tending to No while in other polls we’ve seen they lean more towards Yes and there were other signs that the sample might have been odd. ICM had also been making adjustments to their methodology which I discussed at some length on here when we saw the tables. So as Anthony says it’s almost certainly reversion to the mean.

  21. Interesting extract from Clegg in an article in the Guardian.

    “One of the things that the Westminster-based media has not picked up at all is the huge blow to traditional Labour support in the traditional Labour heartlands in the north at the hands of Ukip.”

    I have also felt this has been under reported for whatever reason.

  22. Maybe they haven’t picked it up because it’s not there, as we saw at Wythenshawe.

  23. @Rich

    I am quite sure that our national media loves Ed so much, they would obviously under report this ;-)


    ” I still feel Scotland is on course for the 60/40 staying put % that I have predicted for ages.”

    Yep, me three. The BT campaign has been very gentle on the SNP vision of ‘UK/Eire tax rates but Scandinavian-style spending’ but I expect they are keeping their tinder dry until closer to the vote.

  25. “Panelbase in the Sunday Times has topline figures of YES 40%(nc), NO 47%(+2)”

    Am I missing something? No at under 50% is lower than usual (in general polling), isn’t it?

  26. rich

    Interesting extract from Clegg in an article in the Guardian.

    “One of the things that the Westminster-based media has not picked up at all is the huge blow to traditional Labour support in the traditional Labour heartlands in the north at the hands of Ukip.”

    I have also felt this has been under reported for whatever reason.

    Oh it certainly hasn’t been ‘under-reported’, I’ve seen it said in numerous places. Whether it’s true or not is another matter. There’s certainly little evidence for it so far. In the parliamentary by-elections where UKIP came second they have tended to take votes off Conservatives and Lib Dems for example, while Labour’s vote went up. UKIP may be picking up some votes in the ‘Labour heartlands’, but not many seem to be from ex-Labour voters.

    UKIP actually seem to do less well in the North, especially in the North West. I suspect many voters see them as having a ‘Southern’ image. That’s not to say their rise might not threaten Labour’s winning more votes, but it’s more likely to be elsewhere in the country. Clegg is deluding himself.

  27. @Rich

    Can’t say I’ve noticed any great swell of support for UKIP around here but the North is a big place so I’ll take your word for it.

    I don’t think they’re going to really threaten Labour though. The anti-Europe, anti-immigrant, anti-‘whatever else the tabloids have told them to be anti’ vote looks like it’ll be somewhat diluted by the sheer number of different right-wing candidates that have appeared on the ballot. I counted six of them on my postal vote if you include the Conservatives compared to two in 2012. Labour’s main threat seems to be coming from the Greens who are picking up some of the ex-LD vote for the local/European elections.

  28. In Kirklees, UKIP could only find candidates for five out of twenty three wards,

  29. Drunkenscouser

    Thanks for the link. Very interesting findings.

    The one which surprised me is the increase found in the UK in favourability towards the EU since 2013.

  30. @TOH

    I was wrong – you were right Cameron’s visit does seem to have had a positive effect. It certainly hasn’t had a negative one according to the latest independence polls.

  31. @Rosieanddaisie

    He could have quoted BBC programmes about pickpockets (Romanians 1 Germans 0 ). Personally I’ve seen three African families with more than three children this weekend.

  32. @ Wolf,

    That’s probably just the Prime Minister being a terrible role model- he has four, after all.

  33. And he’s living in state-subsidised housing.

  34. @Wolf

    I and 2 of my siblings all have 4 children/step-children. What of it? And what has that to do with differential crime rates?

  35. @Steve2

    If you think BT have been keeping their powder dry you may have been observing a different campaign. An alternative view is that BT have fired all their big guns with very little effect. The sidelining of Darling, the instruction of new PR consulatnts for BT, the sudden decision of Cameron to get involved and so on all point to a BT campaign at least regrouping if not in disarray. Th spools will tell.

  36. @catmanjeff
    Finding candidates is not the same as having people who would vote for them if they were there. I’ve long experience of lots of people saying “X should be done” but none of them prepared to do it. I’m quite surprised that UKIP can find as many candidates as they have, though I heard one say the other day that if he died before the battle to get our country back was won, he would have “vote UKIP” posters on the sides of his coffin! He was younger than I am, too.

  37. Howard (fpt)

    [..]I note the YG LTV question on ‘voting next Thursday’ did not have an option ‘have already voted’. […]

    I believe that postal votes are now a substantial proportion of votes nowadays.

    Yes the wording of a lot of the Euro polls is very odd. Today’s YouGov appears[1] to ask If there were an election to the European Parliament held
    tomorrow, which party would you vote for?
    . Which, given that not only may many, such as yourself, have already voted, but that everyone will have to do so in the next week, they could afford to be a bit more specific.

    [1] As always with published tables, there may be the possibility that the wording displayed to the panelists was different and the pollster might have updated the polling software but not the templates for publishing the results.

  38. @Robin

    you get my point. Assumptions are everything.

  39. Plenty of posters here in Sheffield from UKIP, including – rather amusingly – one right by the University, off the Brook Hill roundabout, which was defaced almost immediately.

    However, no leaflet as of yet. Paul Sykes is from South Yorkshire, which is why the campaign started in Sheffield, apparently. Slightly odd, and I wonder if the Greens would actually poll higher here, in this ‘nuclear free zone’ city?

  40. The sidelining of Darling What side-lining? It was always planned to have other people involved in addition to AD as BT goes into the short campaign period.

    …the instruction of new PR consultants for BT Again, such things often happen as we go into the short campaign period.

    …the sudden decision of Cameron to get involved I think it’s more likely that David Cameron wants to be associated with a campaign which looks like winning.

    …and so on all point to a BT campaign at least regrouping if not in disarray. Of course BT is regrouping/ ramping up; we’re into the short campaign which is the time when the rubber hits the road.

  41. RM
    Kind of you effectively to repeat my query in the ‘proper’ thread. I hope AW comes across it, as i think it is an interesting polling point. I had wondered whether the point had been considered here previously but looks like ‘not’ if you are raising it too.

    Autumn polling of Scottish voters may be held in a, literally, different climate. I have pondered whether that may affect the outcomes.

    I just thought I ought to say something about Scotland, given the thread.

  42. @DavidInFrance As Hireton has pointed out as far as elected sub national bodies go Scotland only has the 32 Unitary Authorities (technically 29 councils and 3 island areas which are slightly different legal entities).

    However there is a significant amount of supra local authority organisation in Scotland including:

    14 Electoral & Valuation Joint Boards
    14 Health Boards
    7 Regional Transport Partnerships
    6 Sheriffdoms
    4 Strategic Planning Areas (not full national coverage)
    14 Local Policing Areas (formerly 8 police forces)
    17 Local Fire Areas (formerly 8 Fire Authorities)
    13 College Areas
    2 National Parks (which cover multiple local authorities)

    No 2 of these sub national organisations operate using the same boundaries. Some have electoral representation via councillors while others report up to the Scottish Government (many do both).

    As this mish mash shows Local Government reform in Scotland is something that has been ducked by both Labour and SNP (probably as it would be unpopular with local activists).

    My feeling is that reform will have to happen in the next 10 years and we will probably end up with around 15 local authorities more closely aligned to some of these other local delivery bodies.

  43. @Amber Star

    As I said the polls will tell. If it was always planned to draft in Labour’s “big beasts” it is strange that this wasn’t foreshadowed in a more positive way. And good to know that Cameron who was going to fight for the Union with every fibre of his being has decided to get involved now he “knows” which side is winning!

  44. I’m with the pups. 60:40

  45. It’s alleged that foreigners (Welsh, actually) are coming across the border to steal UKIP signs near me:

  46. sue

    Just observing a similarity in humour types/ levels within particular political boundaries.

    It could actually be interesting/instructive to do a poll based on reaction to various jests and political views

    Re Bonny Scotland I think Cameron is absolutely sincere and though I am on the left of stuff it annoys me when people decry him for speaking about how he feels about the union, which I believe he does very well.

    I’m starting to feel British.

  47. As a Welshman, I would feel like an arm had been amputated if Scotland broke away – I’m going up to Scotland in early September to campaign for a “No” vote which I know sounds negative but I think is very positive in the long run.

  48. @HIRETON

    “It looks like the section of your post ‘re capital flight from Scotland in the event of independence which dealt with the polling implications got omitted.

    Presumably it was something along the lines of another cataclysmic forecast from the establishment which to date seem only to have strengthened and increased the Yes vote. Or something like that.”


    Well done for figuring out that I might have been interested in the polling implications, being as this is a polling site. That is why I didn’t telegraph it, because ordinarily one does not need to append such a reassurance to every post, on account of the fact that most are aware this is a site about polling.

    Another reason, is that I am not campaigning for or against and was therefore interested in the views of others on the matter. You are incorrect in “presuming” that I might have been backing what you deem the “establishment” line… there are a range of possible outcomes, and what interests me is what are the likelihoods, and crucially, what might cause a change in views.

    Thus, while it may be true Scots were may have been swayed a bit towards independence by Osborne’s comments on currency union, it is also true that polling shows a fair few think he’s somewhat bluffing. If that were to change, then polling on such matters might change. As potential risks pile up, people may also become more less willing to rely on the idea it is just bluffing.

    There is also the effect on polling should capital flight occur following independence… what are your views on that?

  49. @ Hireton

    If it was always planned to draft in Labour’s “big beasts” it is strange that this wasn’t foreshadowed in a more positive way.
    I don’t ‘get’ what you mean by “foreshadowed in a more positive way”. Yes would try to create a negative narrative about it regardless of positive foreshadowing, so I think BT is correct to let the ‘big names’ speak for themselves.

  50. Cameron has shored up the BT campaign and no vote.

    (runs for cover…)

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