It’s now exactly one month to go until the Scottish referendum, and this morning’s Times has a fresh YouGov Scottish poll. Topline figures are YES 38%(+3), NO 51%(-4). Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 43%(+4), NO 57%(-4). The 43% YES figure excluding don’t knows is the highest YouGov have shown so far.

The previous YouGov poll straddled the Salmond-Darling debate, so this is their first test of support post-debate. Looking at all four of the post-debate polls, we’ve now got Survation showing a significant move to NO, Panelbase and ICM showing modest movement towards YES and YouGov showing a significant shift towards YES.

Clear as mud, but I think it’s fair to conclude that despite Alistair Darling emerging as the initial “winner” of the first debate, the broad trend amongst the post-debate polls is looking like things may have actually moved a little in the YES direction.

Looking back at the post-debate poll, it might be worth remembering that existing NO supporters tended to think Darling won, existing YES supporters tended to think Salmond won – so Darling’s “victory” was largely a result of him having more supporters to begin win. If subsequent polls do confirm that there has been a movement to YES since the debate, perhaps we’ll conclude that attitudes towards who won the debate were different amongst swing voters…

398 Responses to “YouGov Scottish poll – YES 43, NO 57”

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  1. Typical!

    I do some work on the YG tables & Anthony puts up a new thread on it!


    I went to put the Holyrood figures into Scotland Votes, before realising it was pointless!

    1. It hasn’t been adjusted since Margo’s death, and reducing Ind to 0% on the list still gets her elected!

    2. Others at 7% on the constituency list is ridiculously high. The minor parties (excluding the LDs maybe) won’t put up a slate of candidates for constituencies. They stand on the regional list. Those Green & UKIP voters will have to select one of the main parties at constituency level (or not vote).

    However, now that YG includes place of birth for referendum purposes, it seems (not surprisingly) that there is a correlation (though less strong) between that and Holyrood VI.

    For the 3 main parties at constituency level, among those born –
    in Scotland – C 14% : Lab : 36% : SNP 41%
    other UK – C 16% : Lab : 44% : SNP19%
    outwith UK – C 23% : Lab : 28% : SNP19%

  2. Anthony,

    I told you to swich the computer off and take a proper break!


  3. I have to say as an undecided (probably no, still not sure) voter who watched the debate my conclusion was that it wouldn’t have changed many voters minds as both sides stuck firmly to existing positions and didn’t really manage to set out a positive vision.

    In many ways though that is what made it a win for Darling as expectations were lower for him and all he has to do is throw up doubt in the minds of waverers.

    I still think that taking such a negative approach to the referendum is storing up problems for Scottish Labour in the long term as Darling can walk away at the end of September having secured a no vote through a fairly negative approach.

    Johann Lamont then has to try and set out a positive vision of what Labour is going to do for Scotland in the medium to long term which has been entirely absent from the campaign so far.

    I’ve spoken to lots of Devo Max favouring types who are voting No but aren’t going to rush back to voting Labour after a No vote.

    I still expect a No vote but don’t see a post No SNP implosion as some seem to think will happen.

  4. I actually think it’s relatively easy to switch from negative to positive. It’s a standard election tactic to hammer your opponents and then go all sunshine and light in the last few days to create a sense of optimism.

    I’m expecting both sides in the ref to attempt this, but we’ll have to see who catches the mood best.

  5. Phil Haines

    With a long established panel like Panelbase’s, I don’t think you’d get a massive drop-out over the 14 months they’re not using their new recruits. From what Anthony’s said about YouGov’s pattern most people tend to stay on the panel once they’re members. I’m not sure about response rate but I think it’s quite high for panels (much more than phone etc) and I as reckon you’re more likely to get invited to a daily YouGov than a Panelbase Scottish one, they probably use similar methods for making sure they don’t ask the same people too often.

    Pollsters do weed out complete non-responders, but otherwise will try to spread things evenly around the panel as much as possible. They’ll also want to only ask enough people to get the right number of responses as they won’t want to annoy people too often by having them discover the quota is full. Some individuals may get asked more than others, but that will be because they are in less well-represented or responding groups (C2 men under 25 for example).

    I think you’re unfair over their response to the SNP survey. It was clearly set up as private polling which usually politicians keep close to their chests (apart from leaking non-attributable stuff to favoured journalists). That the SNP went bragging is hardly their fault and you don’t go having rows with your clients in public as it tends to put other clients off. You just spout some weasel words and make a private vow to get all politicians to sign in blood (preferably not someone else’s) next time.

    It’s worth pointing out that if any online pollster might have a problem with biased panels you would expect it to be YouGov because they do the most political polls and the highest profile. This might incline the politically inclines to join to ‘have their say’. In contrast most of the others tend to use what are basically consumer panels, either their own (Panelbase and ICM’s NewVista) or using a consumer-only outside panel[1] (ComRes and, now I think, Survation) which people will have joined basically to give opinions on goods and services rather than general opinion. Populus and Opinium may be more like YouGov though without their depth of political data[2]

    Now I suspect panel bias may have been a bit of a problem for YouGov in the past when their panel was smaller. Certainly their polls in the run up to the 2007 Holyrood election over-rated the SNP vote (their last three polls were 37,39 and 37 against an actual 33%). This sort of thing isn’t because of organised infiltration by the SNP but because SNP supporters may be more interested in politics and so more inclined to join such things. A similar thing may be currently happening with UKIP supporters and may explain why they are over-represented in some online polls. In both cases looking at the previous (UK) General Election is a bad guide because of a leap in support in the interim.

    The interesting question is whether there are also political biases on consumer-based online panels, because of the sort of people they attract. I can see this being the case for UKIP perhaps, though perhaps less so for the SNP. Of course pollsters will try to use weighting and quota requesting to weed such biases out, but there may still be problems with Parties with recently altered profiles.

    [1] During one of their checks Panelbase got half their sample from an outside supplier and reported no difference.

    [2] Opinium say their panel size is over 30,000, which isn’t that much given they are asking 2000 every fortnight. Populus are very vague on how their panel works and size. They do an omnibus, 2000-people poll twice a week which presumably comes from their panel and to which they tag on their VI questions.

  6. @NorthumbrianScot

    “I still expect a No vote but don’t see a post No SNP implosion as some seem to think will happen.”

    If Yes go down badly in the Referendum, I expect Salmond to be a much diminished figure but I’ve never shared the view that the SNP would implode. Why should they? They’ve mutated into a centre-left political party in their own right with many more strings to their bow than just narrow nationalism and Scottish independence. They are now the main opposition to Labour north of the border and I don’t see the referendum fall-out effecting that new alignment in Scottish politics at all. They could rename themselves the Scottish Devolution Party. the SDP rise again! :-)

    The fervent nationalists and those who harbour distinct anti-English sentiments will fulminate forlornly but the SNP don’t need those characters to continue to thrive.

  7. CB – Labour are now the main opposition to the SNP could be more accurate?

    Certainly for Holyrood.

  8. @northumbrianscot

    I have been warning about the danger for Labour for weeks.

    Once the campaign shaped up, Labour have been aligned with the Tories, big business & the Tory press and media. All organisations that the Scottish people tend to mistrust. If you look at trust issue in Panelbase, Salmond is +15, Sturgeon +20 with Darling -18. That is serious for Labour.

    Again on Panelbase 37% of Labour HR voters intend to vote Yes. This is voters that are still Labour after New Labour & Iraq, but likely not for much longer. As, I doubt if folk are going to shrug their shoulders after September and go back to voting Labour.

    I don’t think there is any chance of a resounding No victory. My prediction at New Year was 47/53 Yes/No. I now this it is 50-50 as to the winner.

    There are so many organisations for Yes and the key is turnout.
    In the schemes the ‘Radical Independence Campaign’ have been working for months and if they can get the turnout it could give Yes the edge.

  9. What’s happened to the Monday Ashcroft polls?

  10. shevii

    What’s happened to the Monday Ashcroft polls?

    Sipping cocktails on some Belizean beach. According to Lord A’s dispatch on the last one (4 Aug)

    This is the last edition of the Ashcroft National Poll for the summer. It will return on Monday 8 September.

    But his “research on the wider Con/Lab marginal battlefield will be published on 20th”

  11. Why it should be thought that only NO voters considered AD the victor against AS I don’t know. As those who have read my previous occasional contributions know, I will be voting Yes – because I believe Scotland ought to be an independent country – but I would not hesitate in agreeing that AD won the tv debate.

    However, he did so because AS was particularly weak that evening (IMO he looked ill), not because he had the better arguments – other that on the currency, of course, though in retrospect, AS’s contention that “he wants the currency union because it is in the best interests of Scotland, and why would be want to anything that was not in the best interests of Scotland?” now seems to be a stronger card than it did at the time. Where he failed was in picking up on AD’s assertion that “Small countries have to balance their books”. What does that mean? That larger countries, such as the UK, can act irresponsibly and get away with it? If he had been on form, AS would have picked that up straight away and ripped AD apart.

    The one message which seems to me to be conclusive is that the best people to govern Scotland and decide its future are those who live in Scotland. That was AS’s closing appeal, if I remember rightly, and is, of course, utterly unanswerable. IMO.

    Will Yes win? I don’t think so – despite Couper’s remarks to me last week. What matters is that the pressure be maintained on the Westminster establishment to grant more powers to Holyrood. 45% or more voting Yes will be a fantastic result for Scotland. Less than 40% and the danger is that Westminster will put the question on the back burner. Whatever happens, however, Scotland and its future relationship with the rest of the UK will remain a major topic for a long while to come.

    And because of this, and the effect it will in all probability have on the Labour party in Scotland, we are going to continue to be in unchartered territory. As the Chinese curse goes: May you live in interesting times!

  12. @Crossbat 4.22

    I agree. SNP is not a ‘NOTA’ vote. The Tories struggle to get above 17%, the LDs are very weak, for the moment, and neither looks likely to emerge as the major opposition to Labour in the next ten years at least.
    And SNP is a left leaning party. I think it possible, though by no means certain, that they will remain in power in Holyrood in 2016, at least in part because those who vote Yes, including those who traditionally voted Labour, are going to think twice before voting again for a party which so willingly goes along with GO and DC and the Tory press. IMO

  13. @Couper 4.54

    Too optimistic! 44/56 or 45/55 I would say – though I would hope, of course, for a Yes victory.

  14. John B,

    “SNP is not a ‘NOTA’ vote. The Tories struggle to get above 17%, the LDs are very weak, for the moment, and neither looks likely to emerge as the major opposition to Labour in the next ten years at least.”

    They aren’t a NOTA party, but you’re saying that they have made their breakthrough as an effective opposition to Labour just as the other non-Labour parties are doing very badly in Scotland?

    I seem to recall a while back that polls suggested that the SNP’s key strength vs. Labour (or at least one of them) was “competance” in the eyes of the voters. To me at least, it seems that the SNP’s appeal comes largely as an alternative Labour party after decades of complacency, deterioration and ultimately philosophical senility in the Labour party in Scotland. They also have the more effective Holyrood team.

  15. [email protected]

    “I now this it is 50-50 as to the winner.”

    Which poll tells you this?

    Postageincluded has it right. While I often use three polls in a row rule of thumb, it is usually on movements outside MOE .

    Three in a row for one side is a certainty with so much repeated testing.

  16. @Old Nat

    The woman in question just appeared in the Better Together party political broadcast. Better Together must be very confident thay haveof the press in the bag.

  17. @ John B

    “Small countries have to balance their books”. What does that mean? That larger countries, such as the UK, can act irresponsibly and get away with it? If he had been on form, AS would have picked that up straight away and ripped AD apart.
    No, Salmond wouldn’t have ripped Darling apart on this. This is exactly the area which Salmond doesn’t want to touch with a barge pole.

    In the UK, the people are sovereign (despite the royal family, constitution or whatever) because our elected representatives in parliament control our currency. So, the UK cannot ever be insolvent provided that UK debt is always issued in sterling. Unbalanced books? No problem, QE literally means the books don’t have to balance.

    That wouldn’t be the case in a sterling using independent Scotland, even with a currency union.

    People who say that an independent Scotland would be better with its own currency are right & Salmond is not pursuing a currency union because it’s best for Scotland. He’s doing it because businesses & voters don’t like the idea of changing currency.

  18. All of them

    If you factor in different voters and differential turnout. Can add 4% to Yes so Panelbase is a Yes win and the other two narrow loses. Momentum with Yes means the result is 50/50

  19. couper2802

    Yes. Just saw her.

  20. Okay, Anthony is on holiday so can some of you get a grip.

    He doesn’t like show & tell when it’s the Graun, the Telegraph or the BBC – so what on earth makes you think that he’d welcome show & tell from WOS?

  21. COUPER

    I am not familiar with your organ.

    Just google “oil price” and choose a report-or -I dunno-go and buy some crude.

  22. @Amber

    “I tried to find all the articles by the London press which call Scots scroungers. I found one from the Daily Mail in 2011 which was commenting on the higher public spending in Scotland which they believed England was contributing to.”

    There are plenty. Try subsidy junkies, benefits junkies, skintland and so on. Perhaps my search engine skills are better than yours?

    Or perhaps you only focussed on the ones which were not cunningly explained as ‘humour’? :))

  23. couper2802

    All of them

    If you factor in different voters and differential turnout. Can add 4% to Yes so Panelbase is a Yes win and the other two narrow loses.

    No you can’t. Most of these polls factor in likelihood to vote already. The only one that doesn’t is YouGov but they also show separate columns for LTV=10 (44-56) and LTV 8-10 (43-5, so same as the headline)

  24. Old Nat/Couper2802

    While do find the tendency of politicians to go “Look this completely ordinary person supports us” cringeworthy at the best of times, this is a pretty tenuous game of guilt by association that is going on here. I suspect Rev Stu smelled something fishy when the woman’s twitter or whatever was hidden, went off hunting and then didn’t want to waste all that research.
    Demanding that every single Yes/No supporter has been impeccably politically correct for their entire life is just silly. Leave the poor women alone, even people who are a bit confused are entitled to have a view.

    Though it might remind some of the No side, who tend to chant “Ooh nationalism. Nationalism is evil” as if it was an argument, that there’s a fair bit of flag-waving going on in the back rows of their own chorus line.

  25. Colin

    I trust that you noted the admonition not to make links to media outlets.

  26. @ John B

    In addition to allowing billions of QE in a crisis, controlling our own currency also allowed us to slash interest rates quickly and devalue the pound following the banking crash.

    Some tied to the Euro currency union struggled through lacking this flexibility. Sure you save on transaction costs, but take a hit in other ways, and we need the flexibility owing to our exposure to banking. Which is why we didn’t join thd euro…

  27. Roger Mexico

    That was rather the point. Some aspects of “fervent nationalism” are very unpalatable – on both sides.

  28. @Roger Mexico

    No one has been able to answer how people who never vote but are casting their vote for the first time are weighed? Or new folk on the register. That added to Yes voters more likely to turn out is what I mean by differential turnout, maybe I mean ‘missing millions’ in the weightings.

    Regarding the BNP woman, the point is the YES campaign would be crucified if anyone like that had appeared on their web-site or in their PPB. It is the double standard that is so annoying.

  29. couper2802

    She isn’t BNP. She simply retweeted Griffin’s message of support for the Orange Lodge.

  30. @ Statgeek

    I only checked the mainstream media.

  31. @Amber

    Wot, you mean you didn’t check the footie boards and stuff?!!…

  32. @ Old Nat

    Isn’t there an auto-tweet setting which re-tweets everything you receive to all your ‘followers’?

  33. “No one has been able to answer how people who never vote but are casting their vote for the first time are weighed? Or new folk on the register”


    Are those people picked up by the “social attitudes” survey thing?

  34. @ Carfrew

    Wot, you mean you didn’t check the footie boards and stuff?!!…
    LOL! No, not even the comments on the article. I’m not boldly going where Angels fear to tread…

  35. couper2802

    Which poll tells you that the “missing millions” are more likely to vote yes? Or indeed that they exist?

  36. And weighted appropriately etc…

  37. Just watching Andrew Neil’s programme “Scotland Votes”.

    While I still think my side will lose the vote, Neil makes the bizarre assertion about the 2015 election that “Scotland will send 59 MPs to Westminster and most of them will be Labour”.

    If it is a Yes vote, I suspect that Labour MPs in Scotland would be “Scottish Labour” (in a real sense) MPs. Unless Labour wanted to commit electoral suicide, I can’t imagine that their candidates would commit themselves to supporting an rUK stance “against” Scotland.

    The political dynamics would be wholly different, and IMO wholly unpredictable.

  38. @Amber

    You don’t know what you are missing. Inter-team rivalries yield many a stereotyping quip during banter aimed at rival fans. It’s mostly good natured but amazing at times how seriously a few of them take it. (They will research the history of your home town and find out stuff you didn’t know yourself just to try and fashion some new angle).

    (But of course it’s all for nothing when their team loses the relegation battle…)

  39. Oldnat,

    Perhaps they would be leading the campaign to stay in the union ?
    The trouble with a tight vote, either way, is that it is hard to say its the settled will of the Scottish people.

  40. @STATTO

    It’s estimated that about a million people don’t vote or are not on the electoral roll at all. The polls do not take them into account but many people are registering to vote for the first time in this referendum. Also the RIC campaign has been registering voters in the council areas and outside football grounds. None of these voters will be picked up by polls. Whether they actually vote is the key to a Yes win IMO

  41. Even if it was a REALLY tight Aye win (say 50.1% – 49.9%) and there was a shift in public opinion towards Naw as the negotiations progressed, would a second referendum on the final settlement even be possible? Would there be a willingness for the rUK to allow such a thing?

    In the USSR, a series of “Yes to a reconstructed Union” votes in March 1991 were successful in most republics, but after the August Coup the Ukrainian SSR declared independence and had a second referendum in December. The other republics didn’t even have referenda. However, I know of no similar cases where independence votes were reversed under democratic circumstances.

  42. I think YES supporters are making too much out of the YouGov gain of 3%, and are ignoring the big difference between YES and NO that YouGov still finds – 14%.

    YouGov showed bigger NO leads than most other companies in their last two polls – 20% (August), 19% (June). So this is a shift back to the overall average from two modest outliers, not a gain in YES popularity.

    My reading is that the TV debate did not shift opinion, NO are on course to win, and AD will win so much praise that he becomes the next UK Chancellor.

  43. Another problem with any tight yes vote, is that the new Scotland would welcome 800,000 Scots currently living in England, and who have been denied the right to vote,as citizens of the new nation. The new Scotland may well begin life with a minority of its nationals supporting independence.

  44. Statto

    New state (the nation is rather old).

    However, your post does reflect the nature of fear (whether of the future or of spiders) in political choice – as this study reported in the Edinburgh Evening News illustrates.

  45. OLDNAT

    @”I trust that you noted the admonition not to make links to media outlets.”


  46. Oldnat

    Not sure where fear enters the debate, though yes campaign does seem to see it everywhere.

    I was simply stating a fact that the new state (point accepted) could easily have no majority in favour of its existence, in the event of a tight no. Do you not see that as a problem?

  47. Sorry tight yes, but I’m sure you worked that out.

  48. Statto

    Look! There’s a spider!

    Just why 800,000 “Scots who live in England” would give up their jobs and homes, and rush north to join a state that you suggest they don’t want to exist, is something that you omitted to explain.

  49. @JimJam

    “CB – Labour are now the main opposition to the SNP could be more accurate?
    Certainly for Holyrood.”

    I think you’re probably right!

    Assuming Scotland stays in the Union, I wonder if they’ll continue to send Labour MPs to Westminster in the numbers they currently do? I’ve often wondered what the point of an SNP MP is, although, as Salmond indicated in May 2010, they might like to hold the balance in a hung Parliament, especially with Labour as the largest party. Just think what DevoMax measures they could extract in return for propping up a minority Labour Government.

    Intriguing thoughts.

  50. crossbat11

    ” I’ve often wondered what the point of an SNP MP is”

    Probably the same as a DUP, SDLP, PC, Independent, Green MP – or any other MP who is not tied to one of the two/three main English parties.

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