With what I assume are all Sunday’s Scottish polls in, where do we stand? Looking across the board at all six companies polling, two of them using two different modes, we actually have a broadly consistent picture. Excluding don’t knows, the Yes shares in the 8 different companies/methods are:

ICM (online) 54%
Panelbase (online) 49%
ICM (phone) 49%
TNS (face to face) 49%
YouGov (online) 48%
Opinium (online) 47%
Survation (online) 47%
Survation (phone) 46%

Seven of the polls are clearly clustered around a small lead for the NO campaign, with the one exception that rather odd looking ICM online poll with a smaller sample size than their usual online efforts. A lead of just a couple of points in a single poll is within the margin of error, but in this case all but one poll is showing NO ahead, so I think we can reasonably say that the polls are giving NO a genuine but small lead.

If the polls are broadly correct, and if nothing changes in the last five days, then NO look like they’ll have a narrow win… but of course those are two very significant ifs. It’s certainly possible for a race this tight to change within a few days and there have certainly been occasions in the past when the polls have had a systemic error of a couple of points in one direction or the other.

556 Responses to “Scottish polling round up”

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  1. First!

  2. The nae’s will have it. Watching Chelsea thrash Swansea at the Bridge today reminded me of the inadequacies of our poor relations, bluff and bluster from the aye’s is no substitute for real quality. Incidentally, if you’re browsing, CROSSBAT11, well done the Villa.

  3. Looks like Quebec doesnt it a very narrow win for NO and lots of aggro after it and then another vote in 15 years again.

  4. It’s going to the wire for sure, for me personally I cannot wait for it all to be over. I’ve seen friendships ended, intimidation and threats over this and it’s going to take a lot of healing afterwards to sort out this mess. I can only hope one side wins easily and in every region, but I doubt that’s going to happen.

  5. The Westminster roadshow this week has achieved nothing . The Yes vote is obviously very determined .

    The No vote is boosted by English voters in Scotland and it will be interesting to see how determined they are .

  6. With the polls so tight, I think anyone claiming victory for either side is simply publishing their own bias.

    I feel that the turnout of the electors will tip the balance, but even that has its own questions. I would expect the BT will win the postal vote due to the majority of postal voters being older than 55. The interesting result of the postal vote will be the margin of victory.

    Conversely, I think that Yes Scotland will win the vote at the polling stations due to the overall strength of their ground game and the absence of a large amount of over 55’s having already voted by post.

    In the end, If BT does not have a sizable lead in postal votes, at least 10-15 percent in my view, then YES will carry the day.

    Nothing is guaranteed either way at the present time and more polls are to come, but this is how I see at the moment.

  7. JMC007.
    I hope there will be multi party talks after it is all over.

    As an interested observer of these events: that Orange March was not so good to see.

  8. CHRISLANE1945.

    I hope so too, and I didn’t ever like the orange walks or republican marches. In my opinion they do not belong on our streets, keep that sort of religious stuff off our streets. I doubt it will change any votes either way, hopefully folk just let nonsense like that go over their heads.

  9. Here’s a potential source of systemic error I haven’t seen anyone mention.

    We know women lean toward ‘No’.

    A majority of the DKs are female- sometimes the gender gap is minimal, but in some polls like today’s Opinium it can be as much as 2:1.

    So assuming that Don’t Knows behave exactly like voters from the same demographics who have already decided, the Don’t Know group is going to be skewed toward ‘No’ when it finally goes to vote because it’s skewed female. And none of the pollsters can pick up on this, because by definition they can’t measure opinion among the Don’t Knows.

  10. Er, as much as 3:2, I meant. Not quite as overwhelming, but still substantial!

  11. One difference in methodology that ICM has compared with all of the other companies, judging from their previous poll, is that they downweight by 50% the responses from all of those who say that they did not vote in the 2011 Holyrood elections.

    Table 6 from their previous poll (not the latest, for which we don’t yet have tables) gives us a bit more detail about the characteristics of the respondents who did not vote in 2011:
    12 voted SNP in 2010
    102 voted for any party other than the SNP in 2010
    189 did not vote at all in 2010 (or 2011)

    So 114 or 38% of those people did show some past propensity to vote, which I think calls into question the decision to downweight the responses from those 114 by 50%. And since only 12 of those 114 recall voting SNP in 2010, I think that downweighting decision could have skewed ICM’s results a little.


  12. <2 points in it with ~10 points of undecideds.
    Ofc those who "don't know" at this stage are IMO disproportionately likely not to vote at all, but still. Right now, who knows. As a mix of everything British & a bit extra except Scots, I also fear what @Richard Dawson suggests, and am unofficially half heartedly endorsing Yes. Better ~50% annoyed Scots in some other coutry that isn't our problem, than 50% annoyed Scots here, having been given rash promises of extra stuff.

  13. I think any hidden/missed picture in the polls will always favour No. As there will always be a few who bottle and stick for the status quo (a la 1992, Quebec, Australia Republic referendum) etc. etc.

    And I also think a tight race favours No to keep up the “can we risk it”, “get to the polls to save the union” rhetoric (i.e. supercharge the 40+ vote). So I think Yes will need to be a good 4 points clear on the even of polls, to counteract the drift back.

  14. @ Phil,

    Downweighing by 50% for failure to vote in a low-turnout election when we know the referendum is going to be high-turnout is self-evidently a terrible methodological choice, but shouldn’t it skew the poll in the opposite direction?

    2011 voters are going to be on average older and wealthier than the electorate as a whole, and those groups lean toward ‘No’.

  15. @Richard Dawson – “Looks like Quebec doesnt it a very narrow win for NO and lots of aggro after it and then another vote in 15 years again.”

    To be clear, Quebec only repeated the vote after a fairly hefty defeat, leading to the very close result in 1995 (I think). Since then, separatists have lost ground, with polls suggesting a result closer to the original defeat. There is unlikely to be another vote any time soon. I don’t think it’s inevitable that a close No would lead to another vote. It’s just as likely that events mean this is the high watermark for separation, and a continued move towards Yes might not be the outcome – although equally it might.

  16. @ Wood – but then what about the 50% (or just under) who would be angry Union scots who had got beaten??

  17. Phil Haines

    I posted about that ICM practice in a previous thread.

    It will be interesting to see if ICM use the same or a different methodology for their telephone & online polling.

  18. With the Murdoch chat earlier going to repost my comment from the end of last thread in case anyone missed it. Feel free to ignore if you read it already:

    As regards Rupert Murdoch and his links to Scotland and Alex Salmond it may be worth highlighting to people the surprising importance of Sky to the Scottish Economy.

    Sky is around the 10th largest private sector employer in Scotland and all those ahead of it are retailers (Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Kingfisher) banks (RBS, Lloyds) (although some issues over Public v Private here these days) and transport/utilities (SSE, Scottish Power, First, Stagecoach) who to a greater or lesser extent have a fairly fixed Scottish employee base.

    Sky on the other hand employ in the region of 8,000 in Scotland with the vast majority working in Contact Centre and customer service roles (in Fife and West Lothian) that could be outsourced / offshored by a disgruntled owner.
    Sky currently has around 80% of its UK employees in Scotland but is headquartered in Isleworth, SW London. I know discussions over moving that HQ function to Scotland have been part of the discussions between the SG and Murdoch.

    Now I’m not saying no Scottish First Minister would be concious of the media power of Murdoch but a half decent government should certainly be doing their utmost to ensure major national employers are on board with any proposed changes and safeguarding jobs where possible.

  19. @Spearmint – both great observations on DNVs and DKs

  20. @Adrian
    What about the Unionists in Republic Of Ireland?
    I mean, bad luck old chap ‘n all that, but….it’s not really a problem the UK will have to deal with is it? ‘specially as the most ‘devoted’ could always just move south of the border.

  21. I do think this is the most madly divisive of referendums and, following the rejection of independence, there will a lot of recriminations, particularly inside Scotland.

    I take it as read that it will all be the fault of the UK establishment, media and so on but there will also be a lot of “You let us down” accusations within Scotland rather than a gracious acceptance that people made their own choices based on their own rationales.

    It is going to be ugly I think.

  22. Given the likely narrow margin either way, it seems that English residents in Scotland could well have a decisive influence.

    I haven’t seen reports of any appeals from the yes side to “stay out of our decision if you’re only here temporarily.”

    That would seem a legitimate point to make, though maybe tricky to communicate in a non-offensive way. Any views from contributors within Scotland (BTW, what’s the Scots for within? ie the opposite of furth, if I’ve understood correctly.)

  23. Opinium has a Westminster VI (at long last, we get one!)
    Their tables are a bit difficult to follow but here’s what I think they are showing:

    Current % (2010 GE actual %)

    LAB 42% (42%)
    SNP 25% (20%)
    CON 18% (17%)
    LDEM 6% (19%)
    UKIP 5% (1%)
    GRN 4% (1%)

    So no evidence here of a Labour collapse but I’d think there’s a fair bit of churn going on beneath the surface.

    If I have misunderstood the Opinium tables, I’m sure somebody will let me know! :-)

  24. Worrying in a “too close to call” election…


    The Telegraph picked up the same story and added the detail that in one town 317 more ballots for 16-17 year olds have been issued than there are 16-17 year olds registered as living in the town.

  25. @rosie&daisie

    Last time I thought there was going to be a national revolt was when smoking was banned in pubs… How wrong I was, people just got on with their lives and most would not want to go back. Same here methinks whichever way it goes.

  26. “In Dundee, there were 3,649 young voters registered – 317 more than the actual number of 16 and 17-year-olds living in the city, according to 2014 population figures issued by the Scottish Government. “

  27. @Spearmint

    All we have are figures for the overall sample. Taken as a whole, of 2011 Holyrood non-voters ICM found 113 for Yes and 140 for No (and 92 DK). That’s a much wider margin for No than in the overall poll, so ICM’s policy of downweighting them all must have boosted Yes.

    We can’t split out the specific responses of those 253 between those who voted in the 2010 GE compared to those who didn’t. But I think the former will be even more for No, not least because quite a lot of them will have moved from England/Wales/NI to Scotland in the past three years.

  28. If No win narrowly, will there be reprisals on English residents in Scotland who may be accused of depriving natives of their independence?

  29. I just find this all very sad. The UK is already so small, there’s a sense of unity and a companionship for me that’s being lost here. I can see the reasons for Scots wanting to be independent (actually getting a government they voted for), but it’d just be such a shame for the UK to split like this, especially in such a bitter campaign (most form the yes side).

    Will Cameron be able to survive a yes vote I wonder?

  30. Pete B – possibly; it won’t be on a massive scale – but there are idiots out there.

  31. @Rosieanddaisie – as it happens, I’ve just been up in Scotland for the last week, and it’s been fascinating. The air war being fought between Yes/SNP (and I do deliberately lump them together) and BT is pretty ugly. However, there are many other parts to the campaigns, including from what I’ve seen, a great number of informal meetings called by non aligned local organisations to discuss the issues.

    At these, the sense appears to be remarkably conciliatory, with a marked awareness of the fact that there will be a future, one way or another, and local people will still be local people, however they voted.

    Many of my strongly pro Yes friends do recognise that No’s are more quiet and less prone to come out shouting about it. Most of them say that they meet people who indicate a willingness to vote Yes, but small tell tale pauses and odd worries suggest that in private, they are probably leaning the other way, but don’t like to say.

    My guess is that the latest round of business leaders giving warnings is hitting home, and I remain of the view that Yes made a mistake on the currency. Economic uncertainty significantly damages economies, and the last ICM poll with the narrow No lead had some interesting questions on risk perceptions. Independence was judged ‘No risk’ by 13%, and ‘Huge risk’ by 26%. Staying in the union had figures of 32% and 19%. My guess is that these figures will underpin many no voters. Had there been a convincing currency solution, there would have been less uncertainty, although still some opposition from business.

    Regarding how divisive this exercise will prove to be, I suspect that this will in part be determined by what comes next. I suspect a Yes vote will be followed by a natural period of economic turmoil, which will make the short term position quite poor. How poor may well define the levels of rancour.

    A No vote will not make for a happy Scotland if nothing changes. Much of the emotional appeal from Westminster figures stating how great the union is seem to forget the simple fact that half of Scots presumably think the union is failing them – it can’t be that great. Some recognition of this within the wider UK will be essential to avoid repeated votes and continued discontent.

    This chimes very much with the wider mood of anti politics abroad at present. The old parties at Westminster still haven’t really grasped how deep the distrust runs, and rebuilding a more devolved Scotland after a possible No vote should be done as part of UK wide changes to address these central issues.

    Do this, and I suspect Scotland will not look back on September 18th as a day of division.

  32. The Church of Scotland has sent out a message asking ministers and musicians to choose hymns and songs of reconciliation for Sunday Sept 21st.

    Behaviour here on both sides has not been as good as I hoped for, and indeed expected. But it could have been far worse, considering how much some groups of people will lose like being thrown out of work, depending on the outcome .

  33. A number of reports saying Asian-Scots are more likely to vote Yes. Immigrants, be they Polish, Pakistani or English, will skew the result but not in one direction.

  34. Alec
    “…Had there been a convincing currency solution, …”

    I posted on a previous thread about the Isle of Man currency. They print thgeir own baknotes in pounds, pegged to the UK pound, and their government backs these pounds with UK pounds that they hold. (I picked this up from Guido Fawkes originally). Why can’t the Yes campaign stress this simple point – there already is a currency union for the £, and they could follow the same model.

  35. Sorry
    “thgeir own baknotes ” = “their own banknotes” of course

  36. Interesting that the Sunday Mail (for those outwith Scotland, it’s the Sunday version of the Daily Record) has a front page that doesn’t seem to endorse a vote either way.

    “After 2 years of raging debate, if you don’t know, you never well. Scotland IT’S TIME”

  37. Pete B

    As many reprisals as there would be from Scots living outside the country in the case of a narrow yes? Both sets of people have at least some interest in the outcome, Salmond chose who to include and who to exclude.

    Presumably Salmond picked his electorate in such a way to maximise the chance of getting a yes. if he still gets a no, Will he try to have another go excluding those over 65 on the basis they don’t have that long left anyway and it’s a vote for the future?

    Seperately, I’m wondering if it’s possible to renounce your “Scottishness” as clearly some UK jobs requiring natural UK citizenship will be held by Scots. I guess they might be in for a shock if their clearances get revoked due to suddenly becoming a foreigner.

  38. Pete B

    “Sterlingisation” might be a little different from the current situation of the IoM, Jersey and Guernsey pounds, but Yes have been making that point.

    Carney’s intervention that an iScotland would need to establish greater reserves, than our putative share of the UK reserves would be, is perfectly reasonable.

    But then, the UK reserves are not that substantial as it is.

  39. Alan

    I suspect that you have little knowledge of the arrangements for free movement of labour across the EU and the EEA.

  40. @Alan

    I guess they’ll have 18 months to find a new job :-)

    Seriously, if that’s what the jobs require, then that is precisely what should be required of the post holders. If it’s not acceptable to be a citizen of France, it’s not acceptable to be a citizen of an independent Scotland.

  41. @Gattino

    While any voting fraud irregularity is troubling the Telegraph story based on. Mid Year Estimates is less cause for concern.

    I work with this data all the time and there are a number of potential issues with it.

    GRO Mid Year estimates by age in Local Authorities are very difficult to get right with 16-24 year olds as they are a volatile group who move around a lot for work/college/university etc. This is particularly the case in areas with Universities which show large variations in estimated population year on year as students move in and out of areas.

    Year on year changes to Mid year estimates are based largely on GP registration figures (plus Port of Exit survey figures for people permanently leaving the UK, less relevant here) and 16-24 year olds are less likely to register with GPs than older people. Young people also often prefer to stay registered with their childhood GP so they may be living in Dundee but registered with their old GP in Angus for example thus affecting mid year estimates.

    You then need to combine that with voting rules that allow people to register at both their home address and a college / university address (perfectly legally as they may wish to vote in local elections at their childhood home, but for convenience vote in a referendum at their place of education.)

    So a 17 year old moving from Fife to Dundee for College this year may have registered to vote in Dundee (and Fife potentially) but mid year estimates still show them living in Glenrothes for example.

  42. If Salmond was ‘picking the electorate’ he would have opted for ‘born in Scotland’ I’m sure.

    I’ve not seen a proper ex pats poll but I’m sure it would contain more ‘Yes’ voters than the 63% of the 377k English voters living in Scotland intending to vote ‘No’ according to ICM for the Mail


  43. @OldNat

    “But then, the UK reserves are not that substantial as it is.”

    By “not that substantial” I presume you mean “infinite”. Since we can print as much as we like.

  44. I’m not sure who in BT is responsible for the slogans that they pose their spokespeople in front of.

    But “Aye right I’m a no” means “I’m a Yes”. I suspect that Saatchi don’t understand the Scots “double positive” linguistic convention.

  45. Westninster?
    Put the numbers from opinium through the predictor. Guess what? Labour add 2, Tories add 2, SNP adds one. Sadly for me the last is my own constituency so a challenge there. Of course there will be all sorts of problems for Labour but the constant refrains of “its all gone pants for Labour in Scotland” which you constantly hear on this site have to be taken with a pinch of salt. .

  46. Westminster?
    Put the numbers from opinium through the predictor. Guess what? Labour add 2, Tories add 2, SNP adds one. Sadly for me the last is my own constituency so a challenge there. Of course there will be all sorts of problems for Labour but the constant refrains of “its all gone pants for Labour in Scotland” which you constantly hear on this site have to be taken with a pinch of salt. .

  47. Starry

    A number of reports saying Asian-Scots are more likely to vote Yes. Immigrants, be they Polish, Pakistani or English, will skew the result but not in one direction

    Well you can only skew the result in one direction in a binary question with a Yes/No answer :)

    There’s no evidence for Scots-born people of Asian origin, but we do know quite a lot about people in general born outside the UK. The polling is fairly consistent, they are more likely to be non-voters than average. They are also more likely to be No voters than Yes voters compared to people born in Scotland. However, split between Yes and No, they are more likely to support Yes than people born in the UK outside Scotland.

    A lot of this may vary with how long people have lived in Scotland of course – someone who arrived as a toddler will feel more Scottish than someone who arrived last year. But on the whole they will skew the poll towards No – but not by as much as if they had been English.

  48. Northumbrianscot

    I think you do the same kind of work for your authority as I did for mine!

  49. I have to admire Salmond’s political skills. If ‘No’ wins, he will still get a form of DevoMax whoever wins the next UK GE. Isn’t that what he really wanted all along?

  50. Also worth noting that the most recent Mid Year estimates published are for 2013 (nominally Based on June 2013) although they are of course published in 2014 they will not take into account any population growth in the last 18 months.

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