A new YouGov poll of Scotland in tomorrow’s Sunday Times has YES nudging ahead in the referendum race. Courtesy of Tim Shipman at the Sunday Times, the topline figures excluding don’t knows are YES 51%(+4), NO 49%(-4).

The last month of Scottish polls from YouGov have been remarkable. Almost exactly a month ago, before the two debates, YouGov were showing a 22 point lead for the NO campaign, YES 39% NO 61%. This was fairly typical of their polls for most of the campaign, which had been floating at around about a 40-60 split. Since then three polls in a row have shown sharp movements towards the YES campaign, culminating in today’s poll giving the YES campaign a tiny lead.

51%-49% is, of course, well within the margin of error, the smallest lead you can get once rounded to integers. It doesn’t mean YES will necessarily win, and as ever it’s only one poll. There’s at least one other poll to come tonight, which may or may not echo the Yes lead. What will be fascinating to see is how a campaign that has, up to now, show a consistent NO lead for months changes in response to polls showing YES could actually win. Will people recoil from the risk of it actually happening? Will it enthuse people now it could be a reality? I’ll update later with the other polls.

UPDATE: There is also a new Panelbase poll out tonight, conducted for the Yes Scotland campaign. Throughout most of the campaign YouGov have tended to show some of the largest leads for NO, Panelbase have tended to show some of the smallest leads for NO. Given the movement towards YES in YouGov’s recent polls many people reasonably expected that Panelbase would be the ones to show YES ahead, in fact they still show a small lead for NO. Topline figures with changes from the last Panelbase poll in mid-August are YES 44%(+2), NO 48%(+2), Don’t know 8%(-4). Without don’t knows it’s YES 48%(nc), NO 52%(nc). In contrast to the collapsing NO position in YouGov, Panelbase are showing no real change – strange. We should have TNS and Survation polls in the coming week (and should be due an ICM at some point), so we’ll see what trends others pick up.

254 Responses to “YouGov show YES campaign ahead in Scotland”

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  1. 1951 GE: Con + Nat Lib got 26 seats but only 200,000 votes less than Lab – not 1.5 million.

    Above post is counting Nat Lib seats but not Nat Lib votes.

    You have to count Nat Lib seats and votes as Con didn’t stand in over 50 seats.

    Even the 200,000 vote difference is misleading as Con was unopposed in 4 seats. Allow for that and it would have been only approx 100,000.

    So no big deal.

    See link:


  2. Even if yes went down this time it will merely delay the inevitable. A referendum is a snapshot at one time. The first devolution referendum which had a majority of voters but not enough turn out was followed a couple of decades later by another one which carried.

    If No wins the day 51-49 it would not be an endorsement of the current situation; massive change would have to follow. Or, if you like, a near independence for Scotland. So, next time SNP wins power then another referendum would be held and the answer would be yes because the argument would be ‘well we are practically independent let’s go the whole way’. You cant push the idea of Scottish freedom back into the cupboard; it is well and truly released.

    The momentum is with the yes vote; it will be hard for No to stem the flow. No matter what ‘devo-max’ gets announced this week it will look like a No camp ‘we are scared and so are coming up with anything we can think of’ idea to try and stem the yes tide. It will be easy for ‘yes’ to sell a look at the panic in the No camp…

    If the devo-max ideas to be rushed out this week was really to be sold as a positive idea it should have been out in the open weeks ago for full discussion…

  3. Haven’t read the first four pages, but can only assume that the comments policy has been followed fastidiously by everyone.

    The swing towards Yes has been remarkable, but what I’m still confused about is the sheer scale of it. Depending on your perspective you might argue that the debates were a matter of semantics winning over substance, or that it was a case of the Yes camp explaining why the risk:reward ratio of what we largely already knew is a lot better than unionists had previously largely successfully argued up until that point. Best to just acknowledge that those are the two primary viewpoints rather than actually get into which is “the truth”. Regardless, I’m sure even those whose belief that Yes would win never waivered did not honestly think that the swing would be as sudden as seems to have been.

    What’s most incredible is that as recently as mid-August, Survation and YouGov were putting No at above 50% of the total votes (that is, outnumbering Yes, DK and Wouldn’t Vote combined).

  4. For those looking for reasons to believe this YouGov poll is an outlier, YouGov had the Lib Dems a point ahead of Labour 12 days before the 2010 GE (Angus Reid had the margin at seven points).

    That’s not my personal view though. While even at this stage I still consider No the more likely outcome, based on the direction of travel in the past few weeks a pair of “too close to call” results (assuming 3% MOE) does seem a genuine reflection of what people are thinking right now. Whether that is irreversible momentum for a clear Yes win, or a high-point for the Indy campaign potentially subject to swingback, remains to be seen.

  5. @CHRISLANE1945: “There was a separate referendum in Northern Ireland”

    Complete codswallop! There was no such referendum. Partition was introduced through the Government of Ireland act 1920 which was imposed upon the Irish despite Sinn Fein holding 70% of Irish seats. We would easily do the same in Scotland – partition with the promise of a boundary commission.

  6. I have a question. I have seen comments on other sites that yougov’s underlying data is being manipulated and not by them. I don’t know enough about how the polling companies get their data and if it is possible to do this. For reference I am not saying this happening I am just asking if this could potentially happen in anyway.

    [Practical and realistic answer is no, of course not, these people are crackpots. Theoretical answer is I suppose who knows what abilities the secret services have, but then, they could intercept and reroute calls to telephone polls to MI5 operates giving pre-arranged answers, put MI5 placemen at address around the sampling points for face-to-face polls, etc, etc. The point of conspiracy theories is that they are never falsifiable – AW]

  7. @ Man in the Middle,

    I’m sure even Lab accept that, its not political to say the boundaries do favour Lab.

    It’s not so much the boundaries as the constituency system itself. Labour seats have poor turnout so they don’t get as many total votes, whereas the Tories stack up a lot of votes in their safe seats that don’t achieve anything for them beyond boosting their national vote share. There are a few genuine boundary issues- Wales, and the postponement of the last boundary review- but the big disadvantage for the Tories is structural.

    @ Chris Hornet,

    YouGov was also off by 15% on the AV referendum. But if pollsters are only as good as the last election, then YouGov is the most reliable- they won the European Election prediction contest.

  8. Good Morning All.

    The Westminster Poll also has Labour at just 2% ahead of the Conservatives, but with the Liberal Democrats at an unsustainable (IMO) 7%.
    We are in for an exciting term.

  9. As far as resignations go, the Better Together campaign has been pathetic and Labour have not supplied them with any live ammunition. Miliband does bear substantial responsibility for that.

    But it is really not his fault that the Tories are now so toxic that people are willing to secede from the UK just to get away from them. The ‘Yes’ campaign literature is basically a list of Coalition policy. Cameron had a choice of how to govern, and he decided to treat a hung parliament in which the Conservatives won only a single Scottish seat as a mandate for Thatcherism. Clegg decided to go along with it. They have only themselves to blame if Scotland decides that Two Nation Conservativism would work better in two nations.

    Keeping the country from falling apart is the Prime Minister’s job, not the Opposition Leader’s. And if Ed Miliband were Prime Minister I doubt we’d be seeing crossover in the referendum polls.

    I agree with you, and the fact that there is more than a possibility that there may be another ‘hung’ parliament in May adds impetus to the YES campaign. People in Scotland do not seem to like the Conservatives very much.

  11. Spearmint,
    Well said.I suspect that there will be a concerted effort by the right wing press
    To spin this as all EdMs fault in the event of a yes vote.

  12. @Man in The Middle

    If the Conservatives want an electoral system that reflect the votes cast, they could always propose PR…..

  13. If I was being cynical, and a Conservative wanting power, getting rid 4 million voters who never for me would be quite useful.

  14. Was it Stalin who once said that it doesn’t matter who votes so much as who counts the votes?


    What do you guys think? Who will be counting the votes in Scotland come the 18th?

  15. Ann in Wales

    Although I doubt that Scotland will vote yes this time, I do think Tony Blair and New Labour opened a “can of worms” when they legislated for Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, Ed M and Labour have been very vocal recently about the Union, as they are worried about losing 41 seats in Scotland (and like most of us do not want to see the breakup of the Union). This does provide an opportunity for the right wing press to attack Labour and Ed M, why wouldn’t they?

  16. Still lots of talk of swings to yes here. Can i remind everyone that only one pollster is showing any swing at all, and a highly unusual one too . That should make any poll analyst suspicious.

    I rarely agree with smithson on PB , but his waiting on tns post is one I would concur with.

  17. Polls can be interpreted in anyway you want, polls can be weighted to give the result you want or for whoever commissioned the poll. It’s ludicrous that panelbase can no sign of movement at all which was commissioned by the YES camp and YouGov a give a 24 point change. YouGov did change their weighting method for rupert Murdoch times and sun papers. Why did they change their method two weeks before the referendum . Did they do this for Murdoch who wanted to give the impression of a cliffhanger. Over the weeks there has been talk of a YES surge with momentum on their side. But this is only from one poll , YouGov, all others have not moved at all and suspect won’t . The media have hailed the YouGov poll as proof of a yes surge but all other polls including the YES campaign one show no change since march

    [Methodology hasn’t changed at all, completely the same as the previous poll. Pollsters have to be public about weighting targets, so open to public examination – AW]

  18. Latest Westminster VI YouGov shows Labour taking my much advocated 35% strategy quite literally; Con 33 Lab 35 LD 7 UKIP 15%.

    And UKIP playing their part in the script impeccably too!


    As for the Scottish Referendum vote, the latest polls suggest that at least it will be worth staying up late into the night for the count. Better order in plenty of Hob Nobs and Cocoa for that. Could be a long night.

  19. I don’t remember ever being asked if I agree with FPTP.

    I just know the Public didn’t like the convoluted AV system.

  20. cl45

    LDs will undoubtdedly get into double figures at the GE and to pretend you think they will get less that 7% makes a bit of a nonsense of the more serious purpose of this site.

    In short, you don’t believe it so why say it?

    As for the idea that a hung parliament again is “MORE” than a possibility, well, that is simply overstating the fact that it it just, very simply – a possibility.

    Amazing theoretical outcome comments last night: the most bizarre was Ed M feeling he should resign but lots and lot and lots of “wottiff” scenarios which were just wild speculation based on one poll.

    Common sense tells me that it is very easy to join what seems like a crowd and say “yes” to an opinion poll question. Reality will be different and:

    1/ I am confident it will be NO.


    A brief and rough guess would be upper 50s versus lower 40s.

    2/ I am not really sure it will even be that close.

  21. @ ToH

    I agree. If by some chance Scotland votes YES (I still think it is highly unlikely), the person most responsible is Mr Anthony Blair. He opened Pandora’s box and set in motion the break-up of the UK by the unbalanced devolution proposals in 1997. I opposed them being put on the table earlier that year, but when push came to shove exactly 17 years earlier than this crucial vote on 18/9/2014, I changed my mind. How can any self-respecting person reject the offer of autonomy for the country in which he lives, unless it is clearly unworkable?

    At least Wales will not be totally run by Westminster if the unexpected happens on 18/9/2014. I still remember the words of a now discredited Welsh Labour politician on 19/9/1997 that “devolution is a process, not an event” – its ultimate destination is independence.

  22. Candy
    “Conversely if you voted LibDem up until 2010 you NEVER got the govt you voted for. ”

    Given the way the polls changed from Jun-Dec 2010, I think it’s fair to say that 60-odd% of the folk who voted LD in 2010 didn’t get the Govt they voted for even then.

  23. Then if YouGov methodology has not changed then their calculations are massively flawed. Maybe their methods havnt changed but they did mention that some people were asked a second time to see if they had changed their mind giving the YES camp a swing, isn’t this a change. If so why did they do this so soon to the referendum, this negates all their previous polls. How can panelbase show no swing for months and YouGov show a 24 swing. It’s just not possible . Either YouGov incompetent or all the other companies are wrong. There is no way a a 24 point swing can be compatible for a zero swing for panelbase and survation. YouGov must think we are all chumps

    [No, it isn’t a change at all. People are drawn from a panel. Over time some people will be asked in more than one poll, that has always been the case. It didn’t involve any change to the method, just going back and checking old data – AW]


    @” Miliband does bear substantial responsibility for that.”

    I agree.

    He caved in far too readily to AS’s party political attack. He did it in the face of opposition from AD who has honourably tried to stick to a cross-party debate about Independence.
    Disagreement between EM & Murphy reported this morning , and criticism of Alexander. It looks like a shambles & now they are playing on AS’s chosen pitch.

    Vote No and you get Tory Rule. Anyone who advocates this is a Tory.

    And 65% of Lab voters in Scotland apparently now believe that AS is right. What a condemnation of their own leader.

    If this comes to pass, no doubt the committed Con Unionists will call for DC’s head. But what was he supposed to do about it , when AS portrays the Tories as a threat to everything Scotland wishes for-and a majority of them agree?

    I feel very sorry for Scottish Conservatives who plough such a lonely furrow. I hope for their sake it doesn’t get lonelier, but I will not shed any tears if it does-quite the reverse.

    I don’t know if these polls are indicative of a trend or not. But if they are & YES win, I don’t think we can foresee the absolute turmoil it will cause in the Political, Constitutional, and Economic life of UK.

    Overheard in my paper shop this morning :- Lady reading her MoS headline says-Oh great so the only people won’t be able to get in will be Scots !

    What on earth has EM said that for-does he think it will frighten them off?

  25. @”nd 65% of Lab voters in Scotland apparently now believe that AS is right. ”

    Sorry-35% !!

  26. Ann in Wales

    I should have added that they will attack Cameron as well, as most don’t want him as Tory leader (The DM in particular).

  27. Seat project from this morning’s YouGov Poll:-
    Labour 316 seats
    Conservative 280
    Lib Dem 27
    Others 27

    If Scotland votes YES:-

    Conservative 278
    Labour 274
    Lib Dem 18
    Others 21

  28. Looking at the latest YouGov, most of the questions have moved slightly in the Governments favour except, importantly, how voters see their own economic situation in the next 12 months.

    I still expect the Tories to get most votes and seats.as do the two forecasting groups although the lead is very narrow.

  29. Zack Polanski: “I just know the Public didn’t like the convoluted AV system.”

    AV is simpler than any PR system, apart from pure party list. You simply rank candidates in order of preference. As easy as 1-2-3!

    The AV referendum swung from yes to no because of Clegg’s unpopularity. And because people swallowed it when the media told them AV was convoluted.

  30. Here we go. The merest threat of a YES vote and we’ve got folk lining up their “It was YOUR party leader’s fault” cases.

    I have this vivid vision of the balloon going up in the Baltic States, all out war between Russia and NATO. And as I paint my family white to reflect the nuclear blast, and crawl under the kitchen door that I’ve taken off the hinges to prop up against the wall to form a radiation shelter, I have one last look on UKPR; and find a virulent debate about whether it was all EM’s fault for blocking the Syria vote.

  31. Looks like NO is starting to panic and will give the Scots big devolution.

    This in the end is what the majority of them always wanted – it will convince the “moderate” Yes supporters to change to No but the cost our system in the uK becomes even more nightmareish.

  32. Regarding differential turnout, Con and Lab in England and Wales in 2010, the average Con turnout was 68 % and Lab had 61%.

  33. All polling companies use a weighted system that can alter a poll by4,6 or 8 points. I’m sure if someone like Murdoch requests a result weighted heavily in one direction he will get it, you don’t say no to a man like that. Panelbase also use a similar system and always give the YES side those extra few points yet their polls havnt changed for 7 months . The media have hailed the YouGov poll a sign that the polls have narrowed with a surge by the YES side but have totally ignored the panelbase and survation polls of no change at all. That’s because a narrow poll sells papers and gets viewers. The media have used YouGov polls to justify comments that it’s now neck and neck but have ignored polls that don’t fit in with their portrayal . The YouGov gets the headlines and all others get zilch. The headlines for Sky and the bbc widely report YouGov and not panelbase . The surge for YES does not exist , it’s all due to flawed YouGov calculations . I suggest people view the site What Scotland thinks and get a good explanation how polls work and how in fact the polls have remained static since march

    [You’ve been told the weights are the same as last time. End of. If you’d like to accuse me of lying to your face, please go and do it somewhere else – AW]

  34. Just a thought.

    YouGov has seen a 10% swing from No-to-Yes in a month.

    Meanwhile, Panelbase is millpond smooth.

    Only two logical conclusions.

    1) There HAS been a huge swing and Panelbase has (had?) it’s methodology wrong.
    2) There HASN’T and YouGov has (had?) it’s methodology wrong.

  35. That data is for seats won.

  36. CMJ

    “4 million voters”

    You can’t bury that number without people trippin’ over a grave somewhere or another.

  37. Leftylampton,

    An alternative explanation: Yougov and Panelbase decided to switch methodologies, just for fun, and haven’t told us yet.

  38. If one poll shows a surprise result, and another poll shows nothing has changed…

  39. M. Smithson reports in Observer.
    “Some YouGov changes can be put down to methodology adjustments. It was not until mid-August that the firm began including 16- and 17-year-olds in its sample, a group allowed to vote for the first time. Also introduced was a special weighting to deal with the excess of respondents born outside Scotland which its surveys, for no obvious reason, seem to pick up.”

    Has P. Kellner discussed this on YouGov site?

    In today’s poll 80% of SNP supporters think an independent Scotland will be better off; 80%ish of supporters of the other 3 main parties think it will be worse off. A similar if less extreme optimism/pessimism pervades SNP/Other parties’ responses to “Will you personally be better off”. Such a disjunction suggests that no one has a clue.

  40. Jayblanc,

    There’s a poll that says that nothing has changed? ;)

  41. @Colin

    “I feel very sorry for Scottish Conservatives who plough such a lonely furrow.”

    Them with the furrows has all the land, so it’s not all sad and lonely. :-p


    “Here we go. The merest threat of a YES vote and we’ve got folk lining up their “It was YOUR party leader’s fault” cases.”

    It was in the bag (apparently). It was won (they thought). It’s not won until 10pm on the 18th. If anything, Better Together are demonstrating that they are not better together. It is an unholy alliance of enemies.

    They don’t even have a common strategical objective. The Conservatives want the Scottish MPs gone, Labour need them to stay and the Lib Dems are just worried about their MP salaries. George Galloway is seeking the limelight, and all the little fringe parties and nasty organisations are in it for the ‘union / queen / empire’, or some other silly reason.

    ‘Better Together’ is a misnomer.

    The strange thing in all this is UKIP. What do they need Scotland for? do they need Scotland? Are they looking to sow seeds of division? Has Cameron’s lot briefed Farage’s lot on something private about Scotland’s worth to the UK?

    David Coburn is in Scotland apparently. Calling UKIP supporters here ‘loyalists’. Not the behaviour of a responsible person.

  42. @Colin
    “Seat project from this morning’s YouGov Poll:-
    Labour 316 seats
    Conservative 280
    Lib Dem 27
    Others 27
    If Scotland votes YES:-
    Conservative 278
    Labour 274
    Lib Dem 18
    Others 21”

    Interesting. So Labour could be close to being the largest party even without Scotland. Can you circulate that knowledge to some of the Press, who seem to believe rUK will suddenly become a Tory fiefdom should Scotland vote Yes.

  43. So the movement is ascribed to these groups:


    ?Labour voters, up from 18% saying Yes four weeks ago, to 35% today
    ?Voters under 40, up from 39% to 60%
    ?Working class voters, up from 41% to 56%
    ?Women, up from 33% to 47%

    I think it is the women and parents of children who have made the difference. Watching how the state can hunt you down and take control of your children and throw you in prison like they did with Ashya King and his parents has had a real impact. The UK system no longer works for its people.

    If our leaders want to save the union they should be addressing that case forcefully and making sure it can never happen again.

  44. In any election undecideds make up their minds late compared to the partisan.

    In this election we have a large number of undecided voters and an expected high turnout.

    On of the striking features of door knocking over the last few months is just how many undecided there actually are.

    Those who are normally disengaged from the political process are the least likely to reply to a political poll either by phone or to be a member of a panel.

    I have a felling this is more 80/60 than 60/80!

    Roughly speaking in an normal Scottish election 60% or so vote and 80% are partisan, so 12% of the electorate are up for grabs.

    In the referendum we have more like 80% voting and 60% partisan Yes or No which could mean 32% up for grabs.

    Given that as many as 1 in 4 are undecided and that a large number of these are not generally interested in politics and late deciders, polling them is difficult and volatility to be expected.

    The rough breakdown for my ward is that we have answers back from just under a fifth of voters and undecided at 23%!

    It is worn noting that a 3% margin of error Yougov at “Yes” 51% and Panelbase at 48% could well mean that they are both more or less right!

    I don’t know if Yes is ahead or not, but i think it does have momentum, either side could win this and an “Event” could swing it.

    Scotland are playing the world champions Germany tonight in Dortmund so humiliation, glorious defeat or a creditable performance are all on the cards!


  45. @Stakgeek

    I take “Better Together” to mean the currently constituted UK is better together than split. Not that there is any significant convergence between the reasons of the parties backing BT.

  46. Scottish cross break today (I know, but given the indy poll, it might be informative):

    Con 21
    Lab 31
    Lib 4
    SNP 35
    UKIP 3
    Green 5

    Westminster seats of:

    Lab 29 (-12)
    SNP 22 (+16)
    Con 5 (+4)
    Lib 3 (-8)

    Something happened between the 22nd and 26th of August. Best guess is the Darling / Salmond debate. There have been nine polls since then, and the 9 poll average either side of the change:

    Lab 36.7 / 31.7 (-5.0)
    SNP 27.3 / 31.8 (+4.5)

    One noticeable tactic of Better Together was making the referendum all about the SNP, and all about Salmond. It was a fair tactic if they thought they could beat him, but they can’t, so it is backfiring. The SNP is gaining in the Westminster VI, but I don’t think this is inherently linked to the referendum, so much as the main three parties starting to panic and losing votes as they might normally.

    Salmond was seen to be a better debater than Darling, Lab to SNP shift. Simples. Whether that means a No to Yes shift…possibly, but I wouldn’t think it’s that simple.

  47. At this rate, the Scottish Tories are going to have to step up their capital costs by getting a taxi for their members, rather than a moped, and the SNP will need to invest in MULTIPLE taxis…

    Well said.I suspect that there will be a concerted effort by the right wing press
    To spin this as all EdMs fault in the event of a yes vote.
    Report comment

    Hey Spearmint / Anne,

    My issue with several posts like yours above is it always seems to come back to Thatcher’ fault. I also generally agree it’s not Ed M’s fault, but when (and I have made this point many times!) will those on the left of politics stop completely airbrushing out Blair/Brown’s period that was longer than Thatcher’s. It’s really odd!


  49. Richard
    “Watching how the state can hunt you down and take control of your children and throw you in prison like they did with Ashya King and his parents has had a real impact.”

    Oh please don’t be so ridiculous !

  50. New thread

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