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. @numbercruncher

    You could try comparing your “even swing” result for borders region against the recent poll by Comres for Borders. Might give some indication of how varied the swing is there , if the poll is correct.

  2. amber

    Moi aussi tres beaucoup.

    La monde Ecosse est bonkers je pense.

  3. Syzygy @ 10.21 pm

    Since I put my message up, I have heard of a powerful company threatening to sue Edinburgh University and the authors of an accepted paper now in the process of publication in an international journal.

    This paper casts doubt indirectly on the products of some companies, and these companies want to rewrite the sections of the paper, i.e. twist the observations accurately reported.

    In fighting such profit-driven companies we are much better as a bigger single state.

  4. @Martyn But what is there to stop a Westminster Government doing the same?

    The answer is a combination of Civil Society and ECHR.

    Why would Scotland be any more or less than the UK to introduce discriminatory voting legislation?

  5. @Amber

    (I was discomfited to hear of the way you are treated. I posted but it is stuck in premod. A truncated version is below)

    I sympathise, Amber: you are in a difficult situation. I hope that it gets better for you.

  6. @ Rosie&Daisie

    Je suis d’accord. :-)

  7. @ Martyn

    Thank you! :-)

  8. @David Welch

    How does a bigger state stop companies seeking to influence research reports?

  9. @NorthumbrianScot

    Considering your point seriously, the smaller the group the more likely a prejudice is to be shared by a majority. Scotland, Wales, England and NI have distinct points of view which means if one goes crazy it can be restrained by the other three. The UK combined, with its multiple layers, affords a degree of protection that a single isolated state would not.

  10. @ Chrishornet – No, you are right, I managed to screw up the chart somehow… Corrected version posted now. Apologies and thanks for spotting!

    @ Statto – Wasn’t that poll wider than just Borders? In any case, that was 33% yes, this says 38.5% yes for a national tie. Since the “Noes” appear to slightly ahead nationally, this analysis suggest mid-30s, so very much in the ballpark.

  11. @ Martyn

    Considering your point seriously, the smaller the group the more likely a prejudice is to be shared by a majority.
    —————-
    I agree but there is also another likely possibility, which is perhaps even worse; smaller countries seem more likely to split into two intractable tribes, neither of which have a clear majority, thereby leading to a bone-headed stalemate which prevents progress in any area, not just the one which caused the original division.

  12. @ Number Cruncher

    The other variable potentially worth plotting would be percentage of English born residents as that will likely correlate to No vote, both due to a higher No vote percentage amongst English born residents and the average person in those areas having more ties to rUK.

    When you plot % country of Birth – England from 2011 census the 11 highest are:
    Borders 19%
    D&G, Orkney, Moray, Argyll & Bute 18%
    Highland 16%
    Shetland, Perth 13%
    Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire, Stirling 12%

    With the possible exception of Aberdeenshire I’d expect those authorities to be amongst the higher No percentages.

  13. Amber

    An interesting assertion about smaller countries. I’d be interested to see the research that your statement is based on.

    One obvious consideration would be to look at the USA, which is quite a big country, and see if there is “bone-headed stalemate” in their political system.

  14. “I agree but there is also another likely possibility, which is perhaps even worse; smaller countries seem more likely to split into two intractable tribes, neither of which have a clear majority, thereby leading to a bone-headed stalemate which prevents progress in any area, not just the one which caused the original division.”

    Amber, do you mean small countries like the United States? That seems to be the best example of the phenomenon you’re describing.

  15. @Martyn / Amber

    I still can’t see why devolving the choice of electoral system would contribute to either religious prejudice or increasing tribal hatred between 2 groups?

    I wasn’t talking about independence but devolution of Westminster / Holyrood electoral system to Scotland.

    Constitutionally these days we’ve de facto established a precedent that a referendum would be required to make a major change to the voting system so it couldn’t be imposed by “one tribe”. ECHR would prevent implementation of anything reminiscent of the old days of 70s Stormont.

    Any change would likely be towards a more proportional system which would both safeguard minority opinion and lessen the tendency of a two tribe political system.

    What’s not to like (except a large reduction in Labour MPs?)

  16. @ Northumbrianscot – That makes sense. I’d be curious to see whether those percentages have changed much since 1997 (well, 1991). Presumably the English north of the border would be atypical in the devolution vs independence “swing”

  17. PR in Scotland with FPTP in England would seem a pretty poor deal for Labour, surely? In GEs where the Tories did well, they would really do well..

  18. My hunch would be that if anything the English born Scots would have voted on Devolution either at the national average or perhaps even slightly more in favour but will vote the opposite way on the independence issue.

    Probably the same correlation with strong Lib Dem voting areas (and some of the same voters).

    The difficult thing to predict both for regional crossbreaks (and indeed for the overall result) is how Labour voters in heartlands like the West of Scotland will break for/against independence.

  19. @ An Duine Gruamach

    Giving one example from the opposite end of the size scale doesn’t invalidate my point.

  20. Incidentally, there’s a change of government in Sweden – but with no overall majority.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29195683

  21. Amber

    I’m offended! You didn’t reply to me too. What is the research you base your point on?

  22. @NorthumbrianScot

    “…I still can’t see why devolving the choice of electoral system would contribute to either religious prejudice or increasing tribal hatred between 2 groups?…”

    I didn’t say that devolving the choice of electoral system would contribute.

    I did say that the smaller the population the greater the likelihood of (as Amber pointed out) a split.

    I then observed that devolving the choice of electoral system to a smaller group increased the possibility of a minority being denied full franchise . I then concluded that such devolution was unwise.

  23. @ NeilA

    It’s the difference between choosing an electoral system for fairness vs Partisan advantage.

    Funnily enough most UK parties tend to support the electoral system that benefits them most. They very rarely give this as the reason why they support that electoral system!

    I make a rule of never voting for a politician who supports FPTP. This restricts the number of Labour candidates who can receive my support but there have been some, like Mark Lazarowicz who got my vote in 2010 and is an excellent representative.

    This reminds me that I don’t know my current MP’s position on electoral reform and I need to find out by next May!

  24. @Martyn
    Re: Stormont. I may be making a distinction without a difference, as Galloway might say, but in the interests of historical accuracy here goes. Stormont was not gerrymandered because it didn’t need to be. The one man one vote FPTP elections were literally fair, the problem was that with parties largely split along sectarian lines, the same Unionist party always won. The one man one vote protests related not to Stormont or Westminster elections but to council elections which back then still used the old British rating franchise. In fact it was Stormont itself that replaced this with a PR system. For the record, the worst actual case of gerrymandering was in the allocation of seats in the old Londonderry Corporation / Derry City Council, worth a google for election nerds. Nationalist parties got 50% more votes across the city than Unionists but two, essentially, rotten super-wards meant the Unionists took 50% more seats.

  25. @DAVID WELCH

    ‘In fighting such profit-driven companies we are much better as a bigger single state.’

    I agree but under trade deals such as the TTIP or TISA, governments can be sued by transnational corporations for legislation which restricts their access to markets or would negatively affect their profitability either now or in the future. A sovereign with its own currency, like the UK, can never run out of money but an independent Scotland using a foreign currency would be very vulnerable ( and more likely to bend to the will of the transnationals).

    However, I don’t know whether the GATS/WTO legislation would be binding on an independent Scotland until it had rejoined the EU or had negotiated a trade deal with the UK. As far as I know, foreign companies would be able to use their subsidaries in rUK to mount a challenge to the Scottish government. For example, it seems that US companies will be able to use CETA to effect a challenge to renationalising the English NHS even if TTIP fails to be ratified.

  26. Martyn

    Since you agree with Amber (but she’s not talking to me), can you tell me what research the assertion you both make is based on.

    Hint – Each other wouldn’t be much of an answer. :-(

  27. I’d be quite interested in seeing a correlation between population size and a ‘two tribes’ phenomenon too.

    I’m sceptical of such a claim (my own feeling is that electoral system is far more important, with FPTP most likely to create two tribes or two major plus one minor- see the US, UK, Canada and Australia (2+1) vs Europe) but happy to be wrong.

  28. @Martyn

    You didn’t however provide any evidence for either assertion before concluding it was unwise.

    Is there any research on small populations being split between 2 parties?

    Is there any research on implementation of institutionalised religious prejudice being more prevalent in smaller jurisdictions?

    I’m not aware of any and if we look at neighbouring countries that have PR based systems they are in general less likely to have 2 dominant parties than the UK and USA.

    To be honest if we looked at the research I suspect we’d find the opposite.

    The save us from ourselves argument against Subsidiarity is usually a poor one unless there are specific local circumstances that dictate an exception.

  29. Hireton

    Re:Patronising Scottish voters

    It appears from the polling evidence that a couple of hundred thousand decided to support YES in the immediate aftermath if the second debate.

    The second debate was like a pub brawl, from which the only clear message was Salmond’s crowing that Darling had conceded (sic) that iScot could keep the pound.

    I’m struggling to think of anything that anyone on the NO side has said that has been more insulting to the Scottish electorate than that little episode.

  30. Northumbrian Scot,

    Evidence is that English-born voters were less keen on devolution in 1997. Areas with highest Yes Yes vote had fewest numbers born in Scotland. Less keen areas were all the ones just mentioned- Orkney and D&G voted No on 2nd question. Labour heartlands were most positive.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_devolution_referendum,_1997#Results

  31. @NORTHUMBRIANSCOT

    “It’s the difference between choosing an electoral system for fairness vs Partisan advantage.”

    There would be nothing fair about a legislative body for which the form of election varied from one geographical area to another.

  32. @ Amber

    I’m so sorry to hear of how unpleasant the campaigning has become but not surprised given the flaming that occurs online. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be threatened by such a draconian change against your wishes, without also being actually threatened, albeit only (hopefully) verbally.

  33. @ Syzygy

    Thank you, it’s much appreciated.

  34. @Amber

    I don’t think Barney’s and your experiences are connected. One constant in all of this is that Labour campaigners are uncomfortable with the referendum. Understandable, but I have seen evidence of both sides committing crimes on property and people.

    No side is innocent, and both sides have numpties.

  35. @Steve

    That evidence shows that areas with English born voters also voted by less than the national average in favour of Devolution in 1997 but of course correlation is not causation.

    One reason why I suspect that the English born Scots might have been more supportive of devolution in 1997 is that on average English born Scots are younger than the average and in 1997 the strongest correlations for No were being Old or Tory or both.

    Would be interested if anyone remembers any polling or analysis from the time that addressed English born voters?

    As an English born Edinburgh resident in 97 I didn’t perceive there to be a big split on the issue by country of birth. This is in contrast to the current campaign where I could correlate directly the Yes/No split in people I know by country of birth (not all Scottish born voting Yes, but nearly all English born voting No).

  36. I am currently researching the small countries which were absorbed into the Soviet Union; how it came to happen & how they are progressing since the Soviet Union was broken up.

    It is a fascinating study which has led me to the preliminary observation which I made regarding small countries. I am pleased to find so much interest in the topic – at least amongst we political nerds. When I publish my research, I will be sure to draw everyone here’s attention to it. :-)

  37. @ Old Nat

    Hint – Each other wouldn’t be much of an answer. :-(
    ————
    It might be, if my research becomes the seminal work on the subject after it is published. ;-)

  38. I’ll come to Amber’s support here, with examples of small and medium sized countries (in population terms) being hopeless split… only top-of-head examples; I’m sure there’s more: try Belgium, Bosnia, Moldava, Ukraine, Sudan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq…. [1][2]

    [1] Yes, I know, Nigeria is large.
    [2] Before everyone shouts Iraq & Afghanistan is our fault, I agree we made matters worse but they were already endemically split and only controlled (when they were) by military force.

    And for avoidance of doubt, before Old Gnat bites back, I won’t be acknowledging him.

  39. on

    Can you give your pompous “research” questions a miss in future when you know perfectly well that people are simply offering an opinion? One which you are, within the rules of this site, quite welcome to disagree with – and clearly do.

    It is not in the least pleasant to read and is completely unnecessary.***

    *** No, I haven’t done the research for that “assertion”, its just what I, and many others, think.

  40. Statgeek

    I haven’t followed a lot of this thread (too busy campaigning then cooking!).

    I presume something really nasty was said to Amber, which is dreadful and I presume she has reported it to the police.

    However, I’m always a little wary when people actively campaigning on a site use such incidents to imply that their side are the only “victims”.

    It’s like the “march on the polling stations” thing that I noted a little upthread. The impression being given on here was that this was a generalised phenomenon from the Yes side. That surprised me because I would have expected anything like that to show up in my social media feeds.

    So I checked back. As far as I can tell, it is based entirely on a Telegraph report about a somewhat nutty suggestion in Niddrie. Even the Yes Niddrie Facebook page only has a single entry on that, so the provenance isn’t actually very secure.

  41. @ MOG

    Thank you :-)

  42. mog – no idea why anyone does really.

  43. Amber

    That sounds interesting research. I’ll look forward to seeing it when you do publish.

    Do you think the situation in the small countries you are looking at might be influenced either by their having a relatively short experience of democracy, or having been created from former Soviet administrative boundaries that create the same kind of potential ethnic conflicts that the British and French created by drawing their imperial boundaries there, in the way that they did?

  44. Before anybody sees my mis-spelling of Moldova, and assumes I’m an ignorant old git not competent to contribute to the debate, it’s my age I’m afraid. When I learned the 15 constituent republics of the USSR (as I had to when I did Russian O-level several centuries ago) it was Moldavia, which is what I still think of it as. I corrected my error, but didn’t backspace far enough!

    I have no equivalent excuse for putting “hopeless” instead of “hopelessly”. (Unless it’s old age again!).

  45. @AmberStar

    As part of my history A-Level course (1992-4) we studied the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and the Balkans from
    1945 to the present day, including the breakup of the same. We also studied decolonisation in South Asia and Africa in particular.

    From memory it is very difficult to draw general conclusions and every country/society is different, sometimes very different. For example Russification in the forner Soviet states caused tensions within those states post independence. But the same wasn’t the case in say, the Gold Coast/Ghana, which was largely a nation state (apart from the British, who left).

    Also whereas Gorbachev accepted the succession of the Baltic States without a great deal of fuss, the Soviet Army aggressively restrained independence movements in the Southern Caucases. That therefore inevitability affected the stability of those countries when they finally did gain independence.

    Anyway, I hope to be able to read the published version once it is ready.

  46. @MOG

    I have you down as an entertaining and informative old git

  47. @ Old Nat

    Do you think the situation in the small countries you are looking at might be influenced either by their having a relatively short experience of democracy, or having been created from former Soviet administrative boundaries that create the same kind of potential ethnic conflicts that the British and French created by drawing their imperial boundaries there, in the way that they did?
    —————
    There are too many writers on this subject who have allowed their own political leanings/ opinions to get in the way of the facts. That is why I have approached it in a different way.

    It may be that the British & French drew their imperial boundaries, either accidently or deliberately, in a way which created small countries that were likely to have the characteristics which I have described. I don’t yet have the information I would need to reach such a conclusion. If it emerges from the data, then that will be an interesting outcome.

  48. Sounds good Amber, I really enjoyed studying Central Asian politics which has some fascinating political developments in the last 20 years although probably less relevant to this context due to the prevalence of authoritarian regimes in that part of the former Soviet Union.

    I guess the Baltic states, Moldova, Ukraine are more relevant to this context but I never really did them in too much detail.

    Luke March was an excellent lecturer and writer on the post Soviet world but I have to confess I haven’t really kept up with the details of the subject in recent years.

  49. Amber

    Thanks for the response.

    Of course, the reasons for the drawing of boundaries in the Middle east are contained in the archive papers of the time, so determining the reason for those boundaries is pretty easy.

    It’s a lot more difficult for the Soviet boundaries, i think. There may be good documentation as to the specifics of why the Crimea was transferred to the Ukraine SSR, but anything I’ve seen has been somewhat speculative, so if you can find documentary evidence, that will be a major service to our understanding.

  50. I must confess to having a bit of a chuckle at the large country v small country philosophising. Because, in the real world, any list of the world’s most successful countries is dominated by small northern European states.

    Shouldn’t we start with the observed phenomena and work from there?

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