YouGov have a new Scottish poll out tonight, done jointly for the Sun and the Times and YouGov’s first since the second debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. YouGov’s previous poll showed a significant four point shift towards YES, narrowing the NO lead from 22 points to 14. Today’s poll doesn’t just confirm that, it goes further – topline figures are now YES 42%(+4), NO 48%(-3), Don’t know or won’t vote 10%(-1). Excluding don’t knows this is YES 47%(+4), NO 53%(-4).

This means that over a month YouGov have shown the referendum race coming right in from a pretty consistent NO lead of around twenty points right down to just six points. The sharp narrowing of the gap echoes the Survation poll after the second debate which had looked as if it was just a reversion to the mean. This suggests something more is afoot.

As ever, we should be careful of reading too much into a single poll – it’s the wider trend that counts – but it looks like this may go right down to the wire (and considering that YouGov tend to show some of the less favourable results to YES, does make one wonder what the next poll from a company like Panelbase might show).

UPDATE: Also out tonight is the monthly ComRes/Indy telephone poll which has topline figures of CON 28%(+1), LAB 35%(+2), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 17%(nc) and the daily YouGov/Sun poll which has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 7%, UKIP 14%

209 Responses to “YouGov Scottish poll shows NO lead dropping to six points”

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  1. First? And with a long one to come…

  2. So does anyone know when Panelbase is reporting?

  3. 60 40. a lot of people have been saying on this site for a while. But for which side??? Huge momentum building up as people look closely at the issues as polling day nears.

  4. I suppose the polls are now “dead on accurate” now they show the race tightening according to the yes crew…

  5. And Cons v Labour very close too. UKIP in third place.

  6. If Scotland does vote Yes Alastair Darling might find it difficult to live with himself for having agreed to the second debate!

  7. Nice to see that the sense of a significant shift in the voting mood in Scotland, which so many had felt, now has objective evidential support.

    That allows me to move from my former position of “I think my side will lose” to “There’s every chance my side will win”.

    Of course, if we subsequently still lose, I’ll be more disappointed. What a bummer!

  8. Could this be the David Cameron effect, coming as it did just after his big interviews in the Scottish press?

    Hopefully he’ll feel he’s done his bit now and keep quiet…

  9. Ok, a few things which I have kept on ice through the day:

    Firstly, did anyone see the news on the BBC about the move of the Glasgow NHS towards the private sector in dealing with the big-boned? I can see some mischief being made over that over the coming fortnight.

    Secondly, as promised in the Clacton thread, I’ll respond to a comment bemoaning the fact that UKIP’s rise doesn’t seem to have coincided with an increase in understanding of the nature of our relationship with various European countries and institutions (within and outside the EU).

    Even putting aside my personal POV (which is that a narrow No would be the worst possible result north and south of the border, with Yes being the second best and a clear No the best), I regret making this point at this time bearing in mind the current polling trends but this was in my opinion the first realistic opportunity to make it after the dust from the second debate settled. The implication of making it now is that I’m saying those who are starting to lean towards Yes are not making informed decisions, which is certainly not my view. Those who have moved from DK to either Yes or No have not taken that decision lightly.

    But my criticism of the referendum campaign for both sides is that in the closing weeks it has been increasingly less about the substance and increasingly more about spin. The substance of the second debate was remarkably similar to the first, and yet in one debate Darling took the plaudits and in the other Salmond did.

    Thirdly, while I am still of the opinion that there is very little chance of a Yes vote, the trend from what was a comfortable No ever close to “it could go either way” is real and undeniable.

  10. Side question to AW: any idea whether the ComRes telephone poll is exclusively landline based? I ask because I’m trying to figure out the extent to which demographics may or may not be a factor, even after weighting.

  11. Anthony

    That really was very nice of you to please our Scottish friends, so quickly.

    I must admit my thoughts are chiefly in Cardiff (NATO), Berlin and the Donetsk area.

    Angela has decisions to make.

  12. ChrisHornet – unclear. Ashcroft, ICM and Ipsos MORI polls now all definitely include a mobile phone element, but I’m uncertain about ComRes.

    When MORI switched recently to include mobiles they said their previous testing found it did not make any difference at all, but they were ensuring themselves against future risk. I’ve a vague recollection that ICM said similar when they made the change.

  13. ChrisHornet

    “But my criticism of the referendum campaign for both sides is that in the closing weeks it has been increasingly less about the substance and increasingly more about spin.”

    Well, that’s politicians for you.

    What has been fascinating about this campaign is the extent to which the Yes side hasn’t been managed by politicians, but has turned out to be a genuinely grassroots phenomenon, operating individually (and not infrequently incoherently!) by groups of people with no ties to a single, or any, political party.

    The media narrative is constantly about “Salmond”, who isn’t even the leader of the official Yes campaign, but some reporters from the South, like Paul Mason, have registered the reality.

    What is observable is that distrust of politicians is as strong as ever, but the debate is more realistically happening in houses, pubs, workplaces, where non-politicians look at how best to decide on the most important political choice they will ever make.

    Politicians are a relatively small part of the debate – which is how it should be.

  14. I see Bill Hill are offering 7/2 for Yes. With a £25 free bet you could effectively get 7/1 for a £25 stake.
    Perhaps it’s time for Rich to get even richer…

  15. I also wrote some days ago about the worst result being a narrow one, either way. Narrow yes, and we have a new state being built on what would hardly be the settled will of the people. Narrow no and the matter no doubt is dragged on in neverendum.

    Of course YG could still turn out to be an outlier. There was certainly nothing in Survation to suggest anything other than reversion to the mean, since its previous swing the other way was not supported by other polls..

    Any methodology changes in YG? Such a swing just isn’t reflected elsewhere, and until it is, I remain a sceptic.

  16. Ah yes, I remember what I forgot to include in that “long post” now: a response to this comment from Candy about Blair, Thatcher, Putin and other long term leaders suffering a dramatic trough in their popularity after a specific period of time, ending in this:

    “And just to be mischievous I’ll point out that Alex Salmond is in his seventh year at Holyrood…”

    There is little doubt that Salmond’s popularity will dip at some point over the next couple of years (although I do happen to think that history will judge him more favourably). What is increasingly less clear is what will cause the dip, and whether the dip will be from “walking on water” to merely “popular for a politician”, or whether it will plumb to “it’s time to go” territory.

    In the event of a clear No it would be because by mistiming and or mismanaging the campaign, the question of independence to bed for a very long time.

    In the event of a narrow No, it will be because he has conceded that the country must unite around the referendum result. It’s very difficult to see how he can be seen to be playing his part in that without upsetting his own party.

    In the event of a Yes, surely absolutely no-one believes that he will get absolutely everything he claims he will be able to negotiate? I don’t dispute that it is possible that the overall package could very attractive – enough to vindicate a Yes vote – but firstly that may not be the case, and secondly even if it is, any specific thing he doesn’t get is going to annoy segments of Yes and No alike.

  17. Comres and Opinium seem to follow each other around (as it were). Is there a methodological reason for this perhaps?

  18. Definite tightening in the Scottish Independence polls and I admit to more than a little surprise about that, I have to say. “No” still significantly ahead but the trend is clearly towards “Yes” and I suppose the question is whether this is unstoppable momentum leading to an eventual Yes vote on polling day or just things solidifying a little with No retaining an ingrained majority that was exaggerated a little by some of the earlier polls. The fact that Yes have never once led in a single poll up to now, and are still 6% behind at best with only 14 or so days to go, tells me they have a mountain too big to climb. There’s also a fairly consistent record with these sorts of votes of the status quo option pulling away in the very last few days of the campaign.

    Still, much closer than I thought and I might have to revise my prediction to 55/45 No majority!


    P.S. Anthony – I’m still worried about this sort of Fantasy Polling Stakes whereby we have to wait for another pollster’s version of reality (i.e. Panelbase). Why should any pollster be “more favourable” to one side or the other? Can’t we just have something that we can trust to be remotely accurate? I mean, how complicated can measuring opinion be when we have a Yes/No Referendum?

    That’s not to mention this evening’s General Election VI polls. It’s take your pick time really. 7% Labour lead if you like ComRes or 1% Labour lead if you prefer YouGov. One headline in the Independent tomorrow morning, another altogether different one in the Sun, I suspect. Something for everyone, I suppose.

  19. What will the frequency of polls be for the remaining 2 weeks or so? Would be useful for them to be every other day now…

  20. Statto

    Perhaps not you, but many others on here, have regularly quoted Kellner as the authority on indyref polling.

    He is clear that the this shift is real – and remember, he doesn’t just have this poll to go on, but the much more substantial poll (for an academic study?) in the field at the same time, to go on.

    It seems unlikely that he would be so definite, if he felt that this poll might be an outlier.

  21. Aug 11 YouGov poll for the Sun

    Yes 35% No 55% DK 10%
    Yes 39% No 61 with DK removed

    Aug 18 YouGov for the TImes

    Yes 39% No 51% DK 11%
    Yes 43% No 57% with DK removed

    Now a poll from YouGov (Aug 28-Sept 1) shows

    Yes 42% No 48% DK 10%
    Yes 47% No 53% with DK removed

    In the three weeks, the NO lead has collapsed to a virtual dead heat, with the gap between the parties within the margin of error. This poll shows a swing of 8% from NO to YES in just three weeks. There is no way to spin this meltdown in NO supports as other than BAD, BAD, BAD!

  22. Crossbat11

    “Can’t we just have something that we can trust to be remotely accurate? I mean, how complicated can measuring opinion be when we have a Yes/No Referendum?”

    The answers are “No” and “Very”! :-)

  23. The media narrative is constantly about “Salmond”, who isn’t even the leader of the official Yes campaign.

    Angela Merkel isn’t officially the most influential person in the European Union. But let’s call spades spades here: in practise she is, in practise he is.

    Well, that’s politicians for you.

    But my point is that the debate was genuinely constructive and substantive until before the TV debates. And don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to cry foul here. Before the TV debates there was an inherent and inevitable bias towards the status quo (No), not because of anything underhand, but because it is very difficult to give in depth analysis and cross analysis of the key issues a big enough platform for the typical voter to digest both sides of the arguments on issues that really matter to them, and make a fully informed decision.

    I am not claiming that spin has altered the likely direction of the campaign, because both sides have been at it equally. But it is disheartening that the TV debates triggered the start of the “tribal” phase of the campaign. It was inevitable and depressing in equal measure.

  24. @Sun_Politics: YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour have a one-point lead: CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 7%, UKIP 14%

    Ducks back out until we have a UK thread again.

  25. @ Crossbat11,

    I mean, how complicated can measuring opinion be when we have a Yes/No Referendum?

    Very. With elections you can test your methodology against previous elections (and even then pollsters screw up). Independence referendums are rare. The YES campaign is depending on chronic non-voters turning out to vote for independence, and by definition that’s something that is hard to measure.

    We’ll know who was right and who wasn’t by the end of the month…

    (Although I have to say, I wouldn’t want to be 6 points behind and relying on non-voters, even with the momentum apparently on my side. The defining feature of non-voters is that they tend not to vote.)

  26. This:

    “My sister who has never voted before explained the currency to an undecided cleaner at her work and converted the cleaner, the cleaner’s mother and neighbour to Yes”

    from couper is really very funny indeed.

    I love the casual “explained the currency.” throwaway line..

  27. @oldnat
    I respect PK greatly, but the fact is that the swing seen in YG is nor (yet) seen anywhere else. Until it is, I remain a sceptic.

  28. Time for the UK Labour Scottish MPs to be hidden under a sheet; they have failed to learn the lessons Scottish Labour have only started to learn from 2007 and 2011. Murphy’s tantrum will go with Ian Grey’s flee. Again Better Together is wasting its time on non-issues. Salmond opened the door on the NHS and employment; Labour? Lost control.

    I still think its hard for Yes; they still need to make up the ground by No below 50% is hugely symbolic. I feel the last few weeks have seen Survation and Yougov move in line to one another in someways; is 47% the solidified vote?

    Yes still need something big; BT crumbling over an issue like Labour crumbled over Council Tax or Westminster turning nasty.
    But no; I don’t think so. If BT just calm down a little and stop shouting on the TV they should still win. If tightly.

  29. @R&D

    So you think my sister and a cleaner are too stupid to understand the currency issues? It is exactly this sort of patronising attitude that had plagued the Better Together campaign. Scots despite what is implied are not too stupid to understand the issues on which they are voting nor are they too stupid to know who to trust.

  30. Understandable Statto.

    I’m taking it somewhat more seriously because the one thing YouGov are good for is overall trends, because of the frequency with which they poll. I always take the base numbers from YouGov with a particularly large pinch of salt even by the standard with which you should treat all pollsters’ individual figures with scepticism, but its finger on the medium term direction of travel is usually top drawer.

  31. I think the jocks should go. If they don’t we’ll only have this charade every 10 years with the SNP claiming that a new generation needs to answer the question. The parting of the ways is inevitable, might as well get it over and done with now.

  32. What seems to have changed in the last three weeks after the first TV debate is the greater effort and passion being put in by YES campaigners.

    The first Darling victory made YES feel they were heading for a heavy defeat, and people were even debating whether Alex Salmond should be replaced for the next TV debate.

    So in the NE, we had more NO posters being damaged, and in our Aberdeen evening paper the reporter dealing with the referendum, who previously had been reasonably balanced, gave every day more prominence and space to YES views.

    This culminated in long interviews with Alex Salmond to the exclusion of NO material on two days last week.

    So the rise in YES VI now found by YouGov is not unexpected.

    However, I cannot see further increases in YES support in the next two weeks. NO are bound to up their intensity, and there are only a small percentage of people impressed by the winning of the interruption count achieved by AS in last Monday`s debate.

    The issues that people really worry about in Scotland are having Tory Westminster governments, more privatisation and big companies running Britain uncaringly, the standard of living, and jobs. The Clacton resignation is widely felt to have ended the chance of a Tory government after 2015.

    So this change may well cause the easily persuaded newly-YES supporters to move back to NO in the next few days, but would not have affected the poll reported tonight.

  33. If there is an Aye vote, will Labour’s major figures in Scotland still stand for Scottish constituencies in 2015, knowing that they will lose them in 2016? For example, will Alistair Darling look for a southern constituency or join the House of Lords?

    The 2015 election will probably be the weirdest, I think. There may also be an improtu solution to the West Lothian question, with some add-ons to prevent Scottish MPs from having a say in the negotiation proceedings.

  34. David Welch,

    “The Clacton resignation is widely felt to have ended the chance of a Tory government after 2015.”

    Though if there’s an Aye vote, we’ll probably see one after 2016, or at least some Labourless coalition…

  35. It’s also going to be pretty awkward for the Scottish Labour MPs if it becomes the accepted view in Scotland that Scotland should try to negotiate for a currency union and the Labour manifesto contains a pledge to oppose it.

  36. (I would mention Douglas Alexander as a major Labour figure in Scotland, but he made mistakes regarding commas twice in a recent post, so his’ credibility is insufficient to warrant being one of Labours major figures.)

  37. @R&D – “I love the casual “explained the currency.” throwaway line.”

    Yes – I found that line quite funny too, especially the bit about yes voters being well informed.

    @Coupar2802 – just to be clear, I (and I suspect R&D also) really aren’t being patronising or think your sister is too stupid to understand the currency issues.

    For my part, it’s simply an observation that if you want a rational and complete analysis of the currency position, I don’t think it’s wise to ask a yes or a no campaigner.

    For example, did your sister explain to the cleaner that for a currency union to occur, it would have to subvert the democratic opinion of 56 million UK citizens outside Scotland? Or explain in some detail and depth what has gone wrong within the Eurozone, and what a UK currency union would need to look like to protect against such eventualities?

  38. David Welch

    As an Aberdonian, I understand the crucial nature of the P&J.

    Oddly, it has little circulation or influence in Ayrshire, so unless the tables show a geographical difference of some magnitude in this poll, then perhaps you may be exaggerating (if possible) the P&J’s importance outside the North East.

    I asked Dod and Bunty about that – and they agreed! :-)

  39. Bill Patrick

    You shouldn’t be over-influenced by the “Punctuation Zealots for Yes” campaign.

  40. Anyone know when this poll was conducted? If it was influenced by the debate, there could be a backwash, which normally seems to happen after a major poll shifting event, although dynamics in a yes/no referendum may well be different.

    There is also the issue of postal votes. If there is a real shift, when did it start, and what number of postal votes were complete before any turning of the tide? Also, tomorrow is the deadline for voter registration – if a bandwagon really is rolling, based in part on new voter registration, that part of the bandwagon stops tomorrow.

    Also noted John Curtice’s analysis regarding the high turn out and ‘missing million’. His analysis suggests that new voters look like being more heavily no than yes, with the implication that a high turnout might actually favour BT.

    It seems very clear that there is a sense of movement and a decisive shift in the ground war towards yes. But as @Oldnat says, this could mean independence, or that my many Yes friends will experience the classic Scottish world cup fate of nearly winning through.

  41. @Chrishornet

    At present, this is looking like convergence of polls towards 47/ 53 rather than a swing. If its a swing we should expect Panelbase to show yes well ahead.

    Convergence of polls would not be unexpected as the day approaches.

  42. @Bramley

    “Ducks back out until we have a UK thread again.”

    I totally misread that and thought, “Who let the ducks out…quack…quack…quack.” :))

    Regarding this poll, it’s like any other. Until we see more of the same, we can’t take anything for granted. Interesting stuff though.

  43. couper

    Don’t be so ludicrously touchy.

    I don’t believe ANYONE could “explain the currency” as it is a complete fog.

    Even a dispassionate expert could only come up with a variety of possibilities so the idea that your sister, presumably a non-expert and passionate yes supporter, could do so effectively is simply not credible.

    As Alec says, are we to believe that she tried to explain any of the potential problems or was it all sunny sunshine?

    I think the time is approaching to get in on the more attractive odds for the no vote.

  44. @Spearmint

    A very interesting point. One presumes that Scottish Labour MPs with a view to going to the HoL will be encouraged not to be on ‘Team Scotland’, if such a thing is put together.

  45. @Alec

    My sister has never voted before she is not a campaigner. That is what you are all missing ordinary people are informing themselves of the issues.
    People are taking this seriously, it is not being left to politicians or the media to tell us what to think.

  46. R&D

    “I think the time is approaching to get in on the more attractive odds for the no vote.”

    I’m waiting for a few more polls before the odds are good enough to bet on a No win. I’ve never understood why, in political betting, people bet on the side they want to win.

  47. I think a YES vote will make things very difficult for the PM; as the man who lost the Union.

    The NO campaign seems to have made a mistake by being so pessimistic.

  48. @R&D

    See judging my completely non-political sister as a ‘passionate yes supporter’ You are sounding like the BT advert ‘currency is complicated don’ worry your head about it’

    It’s not complicated it’s simple – we use the pound, we may be able to negotiate a CU, we have share of debt as bargaining chip, if not we will work something out because currency is not too important GDP is important and that is fine. What is absolutely clear is that we vote for independence we will have a currency.

  49. The more interesting point for me is; given the parliament is fixed for 5 years will Scottish MPs count when deciding the government?

  50. am i allowed to say that i am infernally bored of this scottish referendum?

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