Thursday, February 20, 2014

More from Survation and TNS-BMRB

I've been having a look through the newly-released Survation and TNS-BMRB datasets, and here are a few bullet-points -

* Survation have joined Panelbase in showing that Yes have an outright lead among male voters.  TNS-BMRB still show a narrow No lead, but even so, we now have two out of seven BPC pollsters suggesting that one gender is already backing independence.  TNS-BMRB actually show that the No vote is almost identical among men and women, suggesting that the real difference between the genders is that there are fewer women in the Yes column, and more women in the undecided column.  Although Survation suggest that the No vote is a few points higher among female voters, there is again the suggestion that women are far more likely to be undecided at this stage.

* Remember how the one caveat that was raised about the sensational ICM poll a few weeks ago concerned the radical upweighting of the responses of young voters, who happened to be the most pro-independence part of the overall sample?  Well, almost exactly the opposite has happened in the Survation poll, with the very small sample of 16-24 year old voters proving to be the least favourable to independence other than over-65s, and with that sample being massively upweighted from 59 actual people to 138 'virtual' people.  So if sampling problems have in any way distorted the results of this poll, it's more likely to have led to a slight understatement of the Yes vote than of the No vote - in other words it's conceivable that Yes should be a touch higher than 45%.

* Although Survation have broadly come into line with Panelbase and ICM in respect of the weighting procedure, they haven't done so in respect of the question, which still asks how people would vote if the referendum was held "today".  It's widely theorised that this wording has the effect of artificially increasing the No vote, although admittedly there is no hard evidence of that.

* Survation show a significant increase in the SNP lead over Labour in Holyrood voting intentions, although the apparent shift in opinion may be largely illusory due to the introduction of a new methodology.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot :

SNP 44% (+6)
Labour 31% (-5)
Conservatives 13% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-3)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot : 

SNP 41%
Labour 28%
Conservatives 13%
Liberal Democrats 8%

So a gap has opened up between ICM, Panelbase and Survation in one camp who are all showing a substantial SNP lead, and YouGov and Ipsos-Mori in the other camp who are suggesting that the race is very tight.  The question of who is getting it right is vitally important, because the first camp also happens to be showing the most Yes-friendly referendum figures at the moment.  One doubt that will be lingering in some people's minds is this - is it realistic to think that the SNP have such a commanding nationwide lead when there was a significant pro-Labour swing in the Cowdenbeath by-election last month?  Answer : Yes, it's perfectly plausible, because by-elections often exist in their own little bubbles (Glenrothes 2008 being one classic example).  But it's certainly a reasonable doubt to raise, and we may have to wait until the European elections to get a stronger clue.


  1. Great stuff again James,

    I do think the problem of question having 'if the vote was today/tomorrow, would certainly increase the No vote, because by definition, people who are undecided or uncertain because they have not looked into the details of what independence means, will usually prompt for the status quo.

    If these people were all 'Don't knows' based on them considering the issues but still not sure how they would vote, then yes I would agree there is as much likelihood that they might vote 'Yes' as vote 'No' but I don't think that's the case.

    Since the vote isn't until 18th September, then the majority of people will tend to put thoughts about voting, on the back burner until nearer the time.

    They may have the vague idea that BT is running a negative campaign, as well as the Tory's are bullying Scotland, or they may have heard that it's all about Alex Salmonds vanity, but until they look into the details they would probably fall to the default position.

    In this referendum this is a No vote.
    People need something to cause them to opt for Yes, so until they are sure they will say either No or don't know. they would surely not say Yes.

    Might be wrong though.

  2. Back with more YouGov polling fun. This one as a Co-operative logo accompanying it. The question is as follows:

    "If there was a referendum tomorrow on Scotland's future and this was the question, how would you vote?
    Should Scotland be an independent country?"

    Would not vote
    Don't know

    It also has an odd second preference question for general elections. I don't know if it always asks it but it asks you after picking who you would vote for, it asks you if you would give a second preference to one of the tree main parties or a don't know. (I had to choose don't know since I'd never give it to the big three).

  3. It's interesting this poll gives the SNP a majority for Westminster. Could that be correct?