Friday, August 15, 2014

Pro-independence campaign stand on brink of victory in new study after 'undecided leaners' are taken into account

A new study (as opposed to a conventional poll) conducted by the Economic and Social Research Council has been reported by the Scotsman. Supposedly the results should be available in full from today, but I've been unable to track them down, so I can only go on the very limited information the newspaper has made available. The headline results are...

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 38%
No 51%

Which would probably work out as a 43/57 split after Don't Knows are excluded. But in fact when those Don't Knows were pressed further on how they are leaning, most gave an answer, and of those that did there was a 2-1 split in favour of Yes. When those 'undecided leaners' are taken into account, the result is extraordinarily close -

Yes 47.5%
No 52.5%

No word on the fieldwork dates, and we probably have to assume that they're likely to be a little bit out of date, and that they took place over a longer period of time than would be normal for a poll (even a TNS poll!). But encouraging stuff all the same.

* * *

A Housekeeping Note

Barring unexpected hitches, I expect to be on the move over the next ten days or so. Normally in these circumstances I would just pre-schedule a couple of posts and leave it at that, but obviously that's not realistic with polling day just over a month away. So I'm going to attempt to keep blogging (emphasis on the word attempt) via my useless mobile phone. Updates will be shorter and less frequent, and if they disappear altogether you'll probably be able to surmise what has happened!


  1. If these figures are true, this is extremely encouraging. Thanks for the new post James, I always look forward to your updates.

  2. Very encouraging but how does a 2 to 1 split for Yes among undecideds account for 10 point jump in % terms for yes and yet only 1 point for No?

  3. Because the second set of figures excludes the hard-core of complete undecideds.

  4. Survey is here:

    fieldwork - 9-30 June

    ... so well out of date but sample size large, 2063.

  5. Ah, having quickly looked at that link, it appears that my answer to Dalriadan's question was wrong.

  6. I'm trying to speed-read it, which is probably not a good idea, but the impression I'm getting is that the 47.5%/52.5% split is actually based on a sliding scale, vaguely similar (but not the same) to the one that Yes Scotland use.

  7. Surely.... 38% yes, 51% no, 11% dunno


    7% leaning, 2 to 1 in favour of yes, let's call it 5% for yes, 2% for no.

    That gives 43% yes, 53% no, 4% hard-core dont knows

    when stripping out the remaining DK's that gives 45% yes (rounded up) and 55% no (rounded down)


  8. Do grow up, there's a good chap.


  10. ??? I'm confused as to your response, but continuing nevertheless...

    Of the undecided 11-12%, about 7% are “leaning” and come down two to one in favour of Yes, the research suggests. About 5% are totally undecided, while 5% refused to answer and stripping out these response places yes on 47.5%.

    7% leaning + 5% undecided + 5% refused to answer = 17%... how do those figures add up?

    Plus, there is just no mathematical way no can only move from 51% in the straight poll, to only 52.5% after adding on leaning no's and then scaled up to remove definite don't knows.

    That's just maths, not bias.

  11. Some encouragement for both sides in this survey. No will be pleased with a 13 point lead on the actual referendum question - that's solid coming from an ICM survey and the most significant number in the survey. Yes will be encouraged by the inclination to vote data, although it is a little difficult to reconcile with the headline number (some people appear to think Scotland should not be an independent country but are inclined to vote yes or at least to say they could vote either way) and obviously not generally regarded as valuable as the responses to the actual referendum question.

    The internals probably mildly favour no - very similar likelihood to vote (not the big difference in enthusiam yes activists are reporting) and no voters materially less likely to change their mind. Probably the most encouraging internal for yes is that women are not materially more inclined towards no, just more likely to be undecided than men.

    The social grade data is interesting - yes really need the D/Es to turn-out if they are to have any prospect of victory. More realistically they are going to need to make more headway with the higher social groups.

  12. the quote in italics is from the scotsman article by the way where the figures are from too, and there's others on the comments there pointing out the same error. I'm not trying to pin the error on you if that's what you're thinking. cheer up :-)

  13. Actually, what has happened is the survey has asked two questions, one the referendum question, and one asking how likely people are to vote yes/no

    the scotsman has muddled up the responses like it's just one question

    see, i'm being helpful :-)

  14. Just popped the numbers into Excel and I get 45/55 as well once you take out the 4% of hardcore undecideds.

    11 splits 5/2/4 (assuming 4% refuse to budge)
    new figures 43/53/4
    remove undecideds you get 44.8/55.2

    Either the data set is wrong or someone is messing up their calculation. Not sure why you told the poster above to 'grow up' either?

  15. SNYTYM : "see, i'm being helpful :-)"

    No, you see, what actually happened is that I corrected myself, and you pretended not to have noticed in an attempt to score yet another cheap point. Silly, silly boy.

  16. "Not sure why you told the poster above to 'grow up' either?"

    See above. Although since you're referring to a No troll who has been filling the comments section of this blog with drivel for the last two weeks, I'm not sure I really need much further excuse to tell him to grow up.

  17. Flockers : "some people appear to think Scotland should not be an independent country but are inclined to vote yes"

    Hmmm. Far more probable is that they think Scotland should be independent but are just shy about saying so when confronted with authority and a straight Yes/No question - 'Shy Yes Syndrome' in a nutshell, in fact.

    I think "solid coming from an ICM survey" is a bit misleading - if this is an ICM survey, it plainly isn't directly comparable with the Scotland on Sunday series because the number of undecideds is much, much lower.

  18. I think that's overly optimistic. You'd expect those people to say they don't know to the independence question, but then reveal an inclination to vote yes. Here we have some people definitively saying Scotland should not be independent, but indicating that they are not inclined to vote No. It;s a relatively small number, but explains some of the difference between the two polls. I guess you always get a few pople confused on these things.

    Fair point about the lower level of DKs - I had meant to mention that in my first post as a curiosity. It means the survey is not directly comparable to previous ICM polls not, but I think the previous polls still have some value by way of comparison.

  19. The scotsmans figures are wrong.

    the authors start with the 51% straight-up answer for no. Of the 12% undecided, the authors then divided those into 6% hard-core dks, and then roughly 3 for 1 of the remaning 6% who have signified a leaning to yes or no in some degree in the other question.

    That is where the extra 1.5% for no comes from to make 52.5%.

    It also supplies an extra 4.5% for yes to take yes to 42.5%.

    Then taking out hard core don't knows, we get No 55% and yes 45%.

    If someone can spot the trolling here, then you're a lost cause to reason, though I should have spotted someone had already posted the link. :-)

  20. From the actual report:

    "51% say they will vote No and 38% say they will vote Yes if we use the exact referendum question and 47% No and 42% Yes if we use all who are leaning a particular way"

    =52.8% No vs 47.2% Yes

    The missing 0.3% will be rounding.

    Women are not significantly more likely to say they are going to vote No.

    ...but the only demographic variable that continues to influence vote choice once we control for political attitudes is place of birth.

    Yes, that's correct. It's just women are more polite / less likely to wish to face the confrontations that can occur if you openly state Yes.

    They were similarly supportive of Yes in polls as men right up to 2007 when the shit hit the fan and they started being called xenophobic Nazis and stuff by the media and prominent unionists.

    Scottish national identity isn't confined to men; it is of course identical across the sexes. Same generally for political leanings and why women vote largely the same way as men every time.

  21. From various options:

    Scotland remains part of the EU and uses the British pound as
    currency. It separates constitutionally from the UK becoming
    an independent country with separate tax raising powers
    39(+1) Yes
    47(-4) No
    14(+2) DK

    Wonder what that would look like with leaners?

    Scotland remains part of the EU and uses the British pound as
    currency. It separates constitutionally from the UK becoming
    an independent country with separate tax raising powers. If
    this were to benefit you personally £500 per year how would
    you vote?

    46% Yes
    40% No
    14% DK

    Cheeky. Just £1.37 a day? Really? You'd end Britain for a cheap egg mayo sandwich at lunch time?

    You sure you're just not using that as a neat excuse for being a bit more honest?

  22. Fair enough scottish_skier, but there's some very soft yes's (and no's) in that likert-scale type question.

    It seems to me it's purpose was to fill in the blanks on the actual referendum question portion which is what people are going to be asked on the day.

    I'll slink off to deal with those infernal goats now. :-)

  23. Notice how Yes goes up and No down even though 'separate' is used twice to emphasis the clear leaving of the UK.

    That was not the case historically. Adding that in normally hurt Yes.

    Shows how solid Yes is now.

  24. Now this is very interesting.

    They did a large modelling study of support for indy based on sex, age etc, and of course national identity. They then modelled the +/- effect of various risks of indy (EU, currency etc) and remaining in the union (budget cuts, removal of powers from Holyrood, Scotland dragged out of the EU) and this was the conclusion:

    National identity matters, with those who describe themselves as Scottish not British more likely to vote Yes than those who include Britishness in their national identity.

    General attitudes to risk matter, but once we include variables about specific risks (in this case the currency, EU membership or possible spending cuts from a UK government) the general influence of risk disappears.

    Why of course, there are risks and unknowns for saying Yes or No. Interesting that these largely cancel each other out.

    This leaves 'Are you Scottish or British?' which is in the end the nature of all independence referenda for nobody can know the future.

    1997 Q1 and Q2 of course mirrored Scotland's national identity perfectly. So does support for devo max, whether you'd vote to join the union today, trust in respective governments etc.... The only poll not matching that (yet?) is straight VI. You need to add an excuse like the Tories or £1.37/day to start getting that.

    Standing in that both, if the risks of each option seem equal, what do you do? You vote on who you are.

    That is the unknown for next month. Will Scotland do the same as it did in 1997 when faced with the same thing? One side said devolution would be a disaster, the other said it would be good. As the day approached and people got nervous, the Yes vote slipped considerably with more DKs appearing in polls.

    It was in the end a landslide Yes though with 74% Scottish (in forced natID against British) saying Yes to Q1 (parliament) and 64% Scottish only saying Yes to Q2 (max powers on offer / independence).

  25. Scottish Skier

    I'm English and been here 7 years. I feel I am Scottish. My husband feels the same. When I filled out the census I was very tempted to put Scottish as my natID but pulled back as technically I'm English. All four of my family are voting yes so I think this in a small way bears out what you're saying.

    I also am a shy yes in my own south of Scotland town but I will canvas with a Common Weal t-shirt on in other area. I wear no Yes Scotland signs at all only a common weal badge on my jacket.

  26. Scottish Skier writes:
    It's just women are more polite / less likely to wish to face the confrontations that can occur if you openly state Yes.

    The confrontations that can occur! What possible confrontations can occur in the context of a private polling interview or an internet questionnaire? It is unlikely they will be challenged for their views even by the dreaded YouGov!

    So what the heck is this challenge exactly?

  27. I was very tempted to put Scottish as my natID

    You could have ticked both 'Scottish' and 'English'. Quite a few did. Guess that's an emerging natID though so maybe didn't jump to mind ;-)

    Mrs SS is 'French + Scottish'.

    Your national identity is whatever you want it to be. Governments don't decide it, people do.

  28. Expat writes: "What possible confrontations can occur in the context of a private polling interview or an internet questionnaire?"

    I've been less than honest when answering internet questionnaires plenty of times especially when asked personal questions, eg, when asked how much I drink or if I have ever smoked. If I had voted for the lib dems in 2010 I would NEVER admit to it. YouGov think I earn double what I actually do.

  29. Haartime - any doubts about whether to think of yourself as Scottish and English surely dissolve with a Yes vote. This is an occasion when English folks in Scotland have the opportunity to decide whether they are effectively expatriates, or whether they truly belong. Both options are possible. Both can be respectable. However, one carries a depth of meaning that the other lacks.

    Scottish Skier - thanks for all the brilliant commentary.

    James - run a crowd funder if you're held back by a rubbish phone - we'll buy you one - too important a time to have you going AWOL ;-)

  30. Here's me thinking voting was anonymous for a reason.

    Maybe we should change it so you need to announce to people what you are voting when you hand over your ballot paper?

    That is the one main difference that separates polling from actual voting. One is secret, one is not.

    Is it then such a surprise that they don't always match up?

  31. I'm in for a tenner, James, if you want to do the phone fundraiser.

  32. As James has pointed out before, is hard for polling folks to assess the true levels of support for indy as this referendum is like nothing we've seen before.

    But I have this strange feeling that something is bubbling away in Scottish society and that for reasons I don't totally grasp the polls are not reflecting this sea-change. Or what I hope is a sea-change.

    Anyhoo, can someone pls view my pro-indy vid and perhaps leave a pleasant comment? Go'll make me feel like I'm doing something here in far-off Sabah, Malaysian Borneo...cheers!