Friday, September 23, 2016

Survation sing a song of satisfying solidity as support for independence remains above September 2014 level

Mr George Eaton's recent musings on Scottish opinion polling are an excellent example of how certain journalists, through either laziness or malice, constantly misrepresent polls to favour their own political agenda.  The first YouGov poll on independence to be conducted after the EU referendum showed a small increase in the Yes vote, but according to our George, it actually showed a "fall".  How so?  Well, presumably he was comparing apples with oranges, and arguing that the Panelbase and Survation polls in the early summer had shown a temporary surge for Yes, which had then receded.  But there wasn't the slightest shred of proof for that.  It could just as easily have been that the different YouGov methodology had failed to pick up the mini-surge for Yes detected by Panelbase and Survation.  For the same reason, the TNS and Ipsos-Mori polls that followed, and that put Yes support just below 50%, did not provide definitive proof of a receding surge.  It was certainly plausible that the shock of the EU referendum result had led some people to briefly switch to Yes, before switching back when the complacency of the 'phony Brexit'/'Team GB' period set in.  But a plausible theory is not the same thing as evidence.  We needed a follow-up Panelbase or Survation poll before we could say anything with confidence, and that arrived earlier this week in the shape of an online poll from Survation.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 47%
No 53%

That represents a 6% swing back to No since the extraordinary Survation online poll in early summer, and takes us back to the sort of numbers that have been typical over the last couple of years.  So it does appear that the theory of a temporary Yes boost in late June was probably correct, which means that if YouGov, TNS or Ipsos-Mori polls had been conducted at that time, they might well have shown an outright Yes lead.

Crucially, though, while it's true that the early summer mini-surge has been reversed, it's absolutely NOT the case that the gains Yes have made since the 2014 independence referendum have been lost.  Survation have consistently shown Yes above 45% since the indyref, and continue to do so in this poll.  We can be very confident that the increase is real, because Survation weight by recalled indyref vote, which in this case has had a very dramatic effect - 416 No voters in the raw sample have been upweighted to count as 476.  That means that the superficial similarity to the high 40s Yes figures that Survation generally reported before the indyref is totally misleading - there has been a significant improvement since then (ie. if there was no weighting by recalled indyref vote, the reported Yes vote would now be above 47%).

Not that you'd be aware of any of this if you listened to the lazy spin that Survation themselves put on the poll.  Oh no.  According to them, we have a becalmed electorate who never change their minds about independence (the recent extreme volatility in Survation polls is a tad mysterious, then!), and who are more than happy to settle for the "compromise" (!) between independence and union represented by the half-delivered "Vow" (in which case why did the passing of the Scotland Bill not produce a boost for No?).

Back in the real world, support for Yes remains so high that we practically have a statistical tie, and Brexit hasn't even happened yet.  Free movement of peoples hasn't ended yet.  Visa-free travel to the continent hasn't stopped yet.  The economic hit hasn't been felt yet.  None of these mini-disasters are even on the horizon for most people, but they soon will be.  I used the phrase 'phony Brexit' earlier, because in a very loose sense, the current period can be compared to late 1939/early 1940 when people were still playing rounders and kidding themselves that nothing much was going to happen.  But when the realisation dawns, it will dawn with a vengeance - and we know from the early summer surge that there are enough people out there concerned about Brexit to potentially produce an outright Yes majority.  The depressing reality for the London establishment is that we can't be distracted with Olympic gold medals every month.

Although I'm abroad at the moment, I'm in close proximity to a Scottish Tory couple who reckon that Ruth Davidson is "brilliant", and that recent polls have shown that both Davidson and Theresa May are more popular than Nicola Sturgeon.  So Ms Sturgeon is "not going down well!", apparently.  Well, whichever way you cut it, this poll begs to differ.  Sturgeon has significantly better personal ratings than either Davidson or May (and every other politician asked about), and indeed May has an outright negative rating.  That honeymoon didn't last long.

Curiously, Survation have replicated the counterintuitive finding from TNS that women are now more supportive of independence than men are.  It may just be a coincidence that two polls close together are both producing a misleading finding, but who knows?  Perhaps Brexit has turned the gender divide on its head.

37 comments:

  1. The press down south,Article 50 is about timing,not,will it happen?

    Amazed about how scottish tories are calling brexit a mishap which can easily be sorted by SNP

    Amazed Scottish Labour head in sand single market ,dead quiet

    ReplyDelete
  2. Looking at the figures that are switching from no to yes and vice versa, it looks like it's still all to play for. Especially when you add on the fact that the campaign hasn't even begun. I for one cannot see many yes voters voting no because they don't like the EU.... I'm pretty sure once the Westminster lot start their fear campaign again, they'll remember what's more important.... Play our cards right and we could get close to 60% Yes (touch wood).

    ReplyDelete
  3. James, any analysis on the North Lanarkshire by election the BBC are crowing about online?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oddly enough, I heard about that from the Scottish Tory couple as well! It's yet another of those STV quirks - a nominal "Labour gain" in spite of the fact that there was a big swing from Labour to SNP (the swing is pretty typical of recent by-elections).

      Delete
    2. How can a SNP seat be lost after a massive swing to the SNP? Confused. Did they not receive enough second preferences?

      Different Anonymous from above!

      Delete
    3. Because it's a multi-councillor ward in which Labour won the popular vote (and by quite some distance) last time around. This has happened umpteen times - it's just a quirk of the electoral system (although even after all these years, the media still don't seem to understand it).

      Delete
  4. I was reading about Survation and their links to the Labour party on another blog. I can't remember where i saw it now!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here it is, Juteman, it was in the Canary, "Mainstream media polling company accused of corruption over links to Owen Smith’s campaign"

    http://www.thecanary.co/2016/09/22/mainstream-media-polling-company-accused-corruption-links-owen-smiths-campaign/

    I suspect the SNP are now ignoring the pollsters and will be hoping to get more accurate voting intention accurate from their National Survey. They should be able to weed out the phoney brit-nat data ("I voted yes but I'm now no") by comparing to previous yes/no voting intention data from previous canvassing efforts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surely all the polling companies are private, commercial organisations and as such can (and will) ask questions and select respondents that will tend to reflect whatever the agenda they are being paid to promote.

      I don't trust any of them as far as objectivity is concerned - does that make me a cynic?

      Delete
    2. You don't need to trust them. Pollsters publish the questions they ask, so if you suspect they may be loaded, just look them up and decide for yourself.

      Delete
  6. James, I doubt that the media "don't seem to understand it". Mainly, they choose to misrepresent it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. James, when are you going to get Ipsos MORI's name right? It's not hyphenated, and MORI is an acronym.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're the person who has raised that point of extreme pedantry twice before, I think I've already answered you. Ipsos-Mori is fine.

      Delete
    2. Seems the pedant doesn't own a dictionary.

      https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/grammar/acronyms

      Delete
  8. I am still waiting for the Tories in Scotland to explain the benefits to Scotland of being "separated" from the EU.
    Control over immigration....you must be joking!
    We will be even more dependent on Westminster "largess" than currently are and with austerity on steroids coming our way there will be precious little of that.
    When the reality sets in with soft No voters,esoecially in rural areas which have benefited from EU payments that there is no gain but a lot of pain,their vote will change.
    Absolutely right about the current phoney situation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I cant wait for Brexit and the Bwitish waking up to the fact that globally they are hated. Some things are going to come home to roost on the reviled arrogant warmongering Brits.

    Mind you I expect that the Bwit Tories and Kippers and all those other Yoon dunderheids rather like the idea of turning the place into a Hollywood Film Set for tourists to come spend their money and have a good laugh at the native buffoons at the same time.

    The Tories will have to press the article 50 button before the next English Council Elections or face an almighty backlash from the mad Tory and Kipper nutter brigade that is the English electorate.

    Meh so much for any Opinion Poll before that.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, both my wife and eldest (adult) daughter have both been far more likely to vote Yes post Brexit. My wife today was even showing some impatience with Nicola that we don't know when the next IndyRef will be. I nearly ran around the room whooping like a Native American in a 1950's Western starring John Wayne, but managed to restrain myself.

    The transformation from an absolute, closed minded, won't even discuss it No voter to an impatient to vote Yes person has been quite astonishing.

    On the doorsteps I sometimes seemed at least to talk some self declared Don't Knows round to Yes (at least for that evening) during the IndyRef, but this is far more seismic. Add in academic friends and lots of other anecdotes of the same that this has not resulted in the polls showing us at 55% is a bit suspicious at least.

    Your pointing out that the No voters had been significantly uprated is VERY interesting. Perhaps they need a double weighting by recalled Indy vote AND Holyrood party vote or some such is needed now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For all their flaws, polls have a better predictive track record than anecdotal evidence.

      Delete
  11. James, what's your thoughts on the opinions expressed above? Do you believe it is possible polling companies are skewing the results to suit an agenda?

    ReplyDelete
  12. So muscleguysblog, will you be signing a petition for a 60% result on a 75% turnout BEFORE this referendum, or wait til after you lose again?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Glasgow Working Class 2September 26, 2016 at 3:07 PM

    Knickerless knows that she will have to resign if she loses another referendum. She is in power now earning a fatcat salary from the taxpayer. Why throw it away. She will string you Nat sis along with little tit bits and some hope but is scared to go for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Britnat si returns! Thought you'd run away snivelling for good, Britnat si. Just you keep foaming at the mouth and doing the good work... for the independence movement.

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2September 26, 2016 at 11:24 PM

      You are foaming at the mouth and not offering an opinion. Typical Nat si control freaks. What independence movement!

      Delete
    3. Wee bittie angry there, Britnat si. Keep it up - your impotent rage is hilarious.

      Delete
    4. So gwc2, our resident Britnat si, emerges from his crypt once more. Obviously his medication has been changed and his usual 'Happy Indy pills' no longer sedate him properly.
      NURSE!!

      Delete
    5. He really is a snivelling hypocrite. He's like the kid in school who spat insults, then ran off crying to the teacher whenever he was called out for it. Difference between that and here is, no teacher to hide behind...

      Delete
    6. He really is a snivelling Britnat si hypocrite.

      There, fixed it for you!!

      Delete
    7. Much obliged :-)

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Glasgow Working Class 2September 27, 2016 at 9:13 PM

    Passed the Yes bar in Drury Street today. Billboard outside saying comedy 5 nights a week. You get 7 nights a week on here and you do not need tae buy a drink.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. You're the source of the comedy, Britnat si...

      Delete
    2. Glasgow Working Class 2September 29, 2016 at 12:20 AM

      Unionist Nat si fash bhoy. Do get it right.

      Delete
    3. You are a Britnat si, and a Britnat si you will remain. Now, run off crying to your little friends at the Dreary Heil.

      Delete
    4. Glasgow Working Class 2September 29, 2016 at 10:37 AM

      You go and listen to some Connie Francis records and cry yer eyes oot. You got gubbed in both referendums so do try and eat humble ya Nat si tosser.

      Delete
    5. Obviously hit a sore spot with the Britnat si there. Its anger and petulance have a certain entertainment value

      Delete