The recent YouGov polls for Channel 4 and the Sunday Times and an ICM poll for the Daily Mail have had some contrasting questions on support for Scottish independence.

ICM found that 51% of Scots supported independence with 36% opposed, though I haven’t tracked down the exact wording of the question. A straight YouGov question on “Do you support or oppose Scotland becoming a country independent from the rest of the United Kingdom” found only 40% support, compared to 44% of Scots opposed.

YouGov also asked two more detailed versions of the independence question. A second question in the Channel 4 poll gave a wider range of options: asked their favoured option 37% of people opted for maintaining the Union, but giving extra powers to the Scottish Parliament, with support for outright independence dropping slightly to 31%. 12% of respondents favoured the status quo with 12% of people supporting the reduction in powers of or total abolition of the Scottish Parliament.

In the Sunday Times poll YouGov asked people to take into account the tax and spending implications of Scottish independence. From 40% in the YouGov/C4 straight support/oppose question, the percentage of people who said they would support Scottish independence if they were sure it wouldn’t lead to higher taxes or lower public spending rose to 56% (including 18% of Scots would said they would support independence regardless).

Comparing the different questions it seems that some people who say they support independence in a direct choice between independence and the implied status quo actually prefer the option of maintaining the union but having a more powerful Scottish Parliament if given the choice. Secondly, it would appear that a large proportion of people’s opinions towards independence are coloured by what they think the tax and spending consequences would be.

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