Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New YouGov poll shows increase in support for independence since the White Paper

My new favourite pastime of "spot the good #indyref poll for Yes by seeing what Blair 'Complacency' McDougall doesn't say about it on Twitter" continues to delight.  An hour or two ago he posted this tweet...

"Interesting figure on what £800,000 worth of taxpayer-funded White Paper propaganda gets you coming up."

...and it instantly became blindingly obvious that there must be a new poll about to be released in which the No lead had fallen yet again, because the narrative he was manfully trying to prepare the ground for was "Yes haven't made enough progress". The problem for him being that the poll he was hinting at was a YouGov, which is highly significant because - a) YouGov have traditionally been one of the most favourable pollsters for the anti-independence campaign, and b) the last YouGov referendum poll showed a dramatic slump in the lead for No, which was down to its lowest level in eighteen months. So any further improvement for Yes from that position represents unalloyed good news, no matter how much Mr McDougall might care to harrumph about it. Here are the full figures from tonight's poll -

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 33% (+1)
No 52% (-)

Now you'll notice that I list the real referendum question above the results, but that isn't intended to suggest that YouGov were necessarily professional enough to actually let that question speak for itself when conducting the poll. I've heard some dark whispers that they may in fact have reinstated their notorious biased preamble that unsubtly attempts to push people towards saying No. If so, it would be an astonishing retrograde step for both their own credibility as a company and for the accuracy of referendum polling more broadly, so let's fervently hope it isn't true. We should find out one way or another tomorrow, and rest assured I have my customary "YouGov's credibility in tatters" headline raring to go if it turns out that the preamble has indeed reared its ugly head yet again. The only consolation is that it would make tonight's figures look even better for Yes, because it seemed that the simple act of introducing a more neutrally-worded preamble was responsible for as much as eight of the ten percentage points by which the No lead dropped in YouGov's September poll. If Yes have closed the gap even further in spite of the reinstated handicap of the preamble, it would represent a massive "real terms" advance for them.

Either way, YouGov have now become the fourth pollster out of four to report that the No campaign's lead has fallen since the publication of the White Paper, so there can be very little remaining doubt about the general direction of travel. Indeed, it's been so long since YouGov have produced a No lead as low as this that I'm struggling to definitively put my finger on the last occasion that it happened - I think it may have been October 2011.

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And now its time for the third update of this blog's Poll of Polls - yes, these updates are coming thick and fast all of a sudden! As you probably know by now, the Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of six polls - the most recent one from each of the six referendum pollsters that adhere to the British Polling Council's rules (Panelbase, YouGov, Ipsos-Mori, ICM, Angus Reid and TNS-BMRB). So this update simply replaces the last YouGov poll from September with the new one.

MEAN AVERAGE (not excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 32.8% (+0.1)
No 49.0% (-)

MEAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 40.1% (+0.1)
No 59.9% (-0.1)

MEDIAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 39.2% (+0.3)
No 60.8% (-0.3)

Given that only one-sixth of the sample changes with each newly-published poll, the movements are inevitably glacial. But even a 0.1% change on the mean average excluding Don't Knows is sufficient for the No vote to slip below 60% on that particular measure for the first time since the Poll of Polls began.

The swing required for the pro-independence campaign to draw level is now just 8.1% if Don't Knows are taken into account, and 9.9% if Don't Knows are excluded.

* * *

UPDATE : I'm hugely relieved to say that YouGov haven't reinstated the Dodgy Preamble. The most likely explanation for the 'dark whispers' I mentioned is that YouGov have been using the preamble for internal party/campaign polls not intended for publication (ie. the No campaign are getting the comforting answers they're paying to hear), or have been doing it for testing purposes of the sort that Oldnat mentions in his comment below. If it's the latter, then I'm still immensely troubled that they're even bothering to 'test' such a self-evidently biased preamble, because it suggests that they still haven't entirely given up on the ludicrous idea of reinstating it.

The detailed results from the poll also show that the No lead (excluding Don't Knows) is slightly narrower among those who are absolutely certain to vote. It also appears that the Yes lead among SNP supporters is not only slightly higher than the No lead among Labour supporters, but also quite a bit higher than the No lead among Liberal Democrat supporters.


  1. Could the dark rumours be based on YG belatedly finding out that if you ask stupid questions you get stupid answers?

  2. It will be a lot closer when the economic figures are known.