Apologies for being a bit later than usual with this poll - I've been having the week from hell. Among many, many other calamities, I - a) fell awkwardly and twisted my knee, and because of circumstances haven't been able to rest it as much as I should, b) have had my faith in one particular type of public servant rocked to the core, and c) have just five hours ago lost my favourite woolly hat, which I've been inseparable from for months! Ah well, in the words of the theme song to a 1980s sitcom, life goes on, right or wrong...
So down to business. There was a time, not so long ago, when this kind of late night tweet from Blair McDougall...
"New #indyref poll tomorrow. More first thing."
...would have been a portent of doom. I did go to bed on Friday night wondering if I would awake to a poll showing a drop in the pro-independence vote, but I needn't have worried - instead it was the second YouGov poll in succession to show the Yes vote rising to its highest level of the campaign so far. It seems that 'bad is the new good' for McDougall. If this is the type of poll he likes to crow about these days, he must be getting a tad jittery.
Should Scotland be an independent country?*
Yes 35% (+1)
No 53% (+1)
*YouGov always add a preamble to the actual referendum question - hopefully when the datasets are published it will turn out to be the more neutrally-worded preamble that was first used in September.
Presumably the reason that the No campaign felt they could at least have a stab at spinning this as a good news poll for themselves is the fact that they've increased their own support by 1%, just as Yes have done. The snag is, though, that if the headline No lead remains the same but the number of undecided voters fall, that means by definition that the true lead is actually declining. Here is the position when undecideds are stripped out -
Yes 40% (+1)
No 60% (-1)
So Yes have broken through the psychological 40% barrier for the first time with a pollster that is traditionally extremely unfavourable to them. And that's the key point that must always be borne in mind when assessing YouGov's headline numbers - Yes don't necessarily need to be in the lead by the end of the campaign. It's quite conceivable that Yes could still be four or five (or even more) points behind with YouGov on the eve of polling day, and yet be level pegging or ahead on an average of all the pollsters. As David Halliday pointed out a few hours ago, YouGov's final poll of the 2011 Holyrood campaign had the SNP ahead by just 3% on the list ballot. The actual election result was an SNP lead of 18%.
When the datasets are published, the first thing I'll be looking out for is the gap in voting intentions between higher and lower income respondents - it's been suspiciously low in recent YouGov polls, leading me to wonder if the firm has a serious problem in its sampling process.
Probably the biggest significance of this poll is that it's the final piece in the jigsaw that proves the coordinated announcements on the currency from the three London parties failed to have the desired impact, and if anything probably led to an increase in the Yes vote. It also demonstrates beyond a scintilla of doubt that the Press & Journal regional "poll" that the No campaign and half the mainstream media embarrassed themselves by getting so excited about a few days ago was not worth the paper it was printed on.
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SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS
The pro-independence campaign's progress with YouGov means that they also rise to 34.9% support in this blog's Poll of Polls - the highest Yes figure recorded to date.
MEAN AVERAGE (not excluding Don't Knows) :
Yes 34.9% (+0.2)
No 48.9% (+0.2)
MEAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :
Yes 41.6% (n/c)
No 58.4% (n/c)
MEDIAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :
Yes 42.0% (n/c)
No 58.0% (n/c)
(The Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the pollsters that have been active in the referendum campaign, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are seven - Angus Reid, YouGov, TNS-BMRB, Survation, Panelbase, Ipsos-Mori and ICM. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample. Changes in the Poll of Polls are generally glacial in nature due to the fact that only a small portion of the sample is updated each time.
For clarity, the Poll of Polls takes no account of polls conducted by bridalwear companies.)
It's only rounding issues that prevent Yes creeping up slightly on the mean average with Don't Knows excluded. The median average is unchanged because YouGov remain firmly on the No-friendly end of the spectrum, with Angus Reid continuing to provide the mid-point.
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UPDATE : I've just posted this as a comment below, but on reflection I thought it was worth adding to the main post -
On a related topic, I've been having an exchange with a unionist Twitter troll who has a bee in his bonnet about the possibility that Yes may only have appeared to break the 40% barrier with YouGov due to their vote being rounded up. Well, we'll never know, because YouGov only publish percentages in their datasets, not raw numbers. However, ICM do provide raw numbers, and having had a look at them I'm delighted to report that their last poll was a touch better for Yes than we originally thought -
So the true lead was only 11.3%, which is hardly a million miles away from the 7% lead ICM reported in their sensational January poll. With Don't Knows excluded, it's -
So rounding certainly worked against the Yes side in the way that poll was reported. Hopefully those numbers bode well for future ICM polls, though.