Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Dramatic poll boost for independence campaign as SNP open up comfortable lead - and almost HALF want a new indyref within just THREE YEARS

Do you remember, around a year ago, before anyone even suspected that Theresa May was going to call a snap election, there was an Ipsos-Mori telephone poll that showed a 50/50 split on the independence question?  We marvelled at how phone polling, which during the long indyref campaign had been much more No-friendly than online polling, was suddenly so favourable for Yes.  If you've bought into what the mainstream media have been telling you since then, you probably think a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and that everything has changed utterly in the last year.  In fact, as today's new Ipsos-Mori telephone poll demonstrates, hardly anything has changed at all.  Yes and No remain in a statistical tie - meaning that due to the standard margin of error, it's not possible to tell which side is actually in the lead.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Ipsos-Mori, telephone fieldwork, Don't Knows excluded)

Yes 48% (+1)
No 52% (-1)

The reason why the Yes vote has gone up rather than down is that there was also an Ipsos-Mori poll last May that showed a slight dip in Yes support, albeit within the margin of error.

What I find remarkable is that if Ipsos-Mori are typical, it appears that phone polling remains slightly more Yes-friendly than online polling is.  No online poll since June has had Yes higher than 47%.  I must say that's against my expectations, because there were signs in the run-up to the general election that phone and face-to-face polls were swinging sharply back towards No.  There was one particularly awful Survation phone poll in June that had Yes down to 39%, much worse than anything online polls were suggesting at the time.  Perhaps, as was also the case in the EU referendum, phone polls are more likely to be volatile and to show exaggerated swings in either direction.  Whatever the explanation, we can now for the first time say with confidence that, irrespective of data collection method, the Yes vote recovered from any brief election blip, and is back to roughly where it was in the early spring of 2017.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, I'm going to have to take the media organisation that commissioned the poll to task for misleading people about the results.  STV's online headline, which presumably will be reflected in TV reporting at 6pm, claims that the poll shows that Scots "don't want Indyref 2".  That is quite simply untrue.  The poll actually shows that 42% support a referendum within the next three years (a crucial caveat), 47% oppose a referendum by 2021, 8% "neither support nor oppose" an early referendum, and 3% don't know.  Even if the Don't Knows are stripped out, that means a slender majority of the population do not actively oppose Indyref 2 being held soon.  If Don't Knows and neutrals are removed, the result is as follows -

Do you support or oppose holding another referendum on independence within the next three years?  (Neutrals/Don't Knows excluded)

Support 47%
Oppose 53%

That's extremely close to being a statistical tie, and is strikingly reminiscent of a number of Panelbase polls that have shown a virtual dead heat on similarly-worded questions.

What's even more objectionable about STV's reporting, though, is the unjustified emphasis it's putting on a supplementary question that was asked only to respondents who are in favour of an early indyref.  Those people were asked to make a binary choice between saying that they want a referendum because of Brexit, or that they want a referendum anyway.  STV have used that to split the referendum supporters roughly in half, and to produce a fantasy figure of "only" 22% who supposedly agree with Nicola Sturgeon's stance that a referendum should be held specifically because of Brexit.  Back in the real world, the half of referendum supporters who want an indyref in any circumstances may very well feel that Brexit strengthens the case just the same - but they weren't given any opportunity to say that.  It's also quite possible that some of the respondents who on balance oppose an early referendum nevertheless feel that the arguments in favour are stronger because of Brexit, but they weren't given an opportunity to say that either.  A much more useful question would have been something like "Has Brexit made you more or less supportive of holding an independence referendum within the next three years?" - and it should have been asked to all respondents, not just some.

Scottish voting intentions for next Westminster election:

SNP 39%
Labour 26%
Conservatives 25%
Liberal Democrats 6%
Greens 4%

There have now been eight full-scale Scottish voting intention polls since the general election.  This is the sixth of those to show that the SNP's vote has slightly increased from the 37% recorded on election day.  All eight have shown that the SNP's lead over the Tories has increased, and five have shown that the SNP's lead over Labour has either increased or remained static.

No Holyrood figures from the poll have been published yet, although I would guess STV may release them tomorrow or very soon.  If so, the pattern of recent polls from other firms would suggest that Labour may be performing slightly less well at Holyrood than at Westminster, which could mean they'll still be languishing in third place.

A technical point that will only be of interest to geeks: you may remember that during the indyref campaign we assumed (but didn't know for sure) that Ipsos-Mori were only contacting telephone respondents by landline, which could have meant they were interviewing a disproportionately small 'c' conservative sample.  They now seem to be conceding that point by noting: "Our sample now includes a small proportion of mobile numbers as well as landline."  I've no idea when exactly they made that adjustment, or how much difference it's making to headline results.

49 comments:

  1. Westminster voting intentions = SNP 39% and Labour 26%

    Ha, how humiliating for the red robin site with its fantasy moonlighting poll the other day, lol lol lol :D

    And 48% is awful close for the tories to be launching a power grab on Holyrood, it will be over the 50% by next month for sure, game on folks, get yer yes stalls back up and running asap.

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  2. The independence-related figures really need to improve if we're going to get another referendum before the Holyrood elections in 2021. Hovering around 45%-50% support is all well and good (at least we're not going backwards), but it's not enough in terms of creating pressure for the UK government to grant us a referendum. The Tories need the support of the DUP, and there's absolutely no way that the DUP will agree to Scotland having an independence referendum. Theresa May can't give Scotland an indyref without bringing down the UK government -- and she has no need to do that if Scotland itself is only about 50% in favour of it anyway.

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    1. We started with just over 24 percent last time. So it's not going to take much to push us over comfortably to a win.

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    2. My point isn't about the possibility winning a referendum (I believe we can, if given the chance), it's about the possibility of getting one in the first place. As much as I desperately want there to be another independence referendum before 2021, I just don't see how it's going to happen given the current circumstances.

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    3. This isn't about Theresa May "giving" Scotland anything. A referendum before 2021 (and probably one afterwards, for that matter) will require us going ahead without a Section 30 order. I hope the SNP understand that, and I think they probably do.

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    4. So you’re suggesting Scotland follows the Catalan example? That didn’t work out too well for them — if anything, it demonstrated that the parent state can ignore the democratic wishes of the people with impunity.

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    5. The alternative being to allow Westminster an indefinite veto on Scottish self-determination? Yeah, I think I'm spotting the flaw in your plan. If we want independence, it will actually be necessary to hold a vote on it. In an ideal world Westminster will say "yes" to that vote - but the necessity will not somehow go away if they say "no".

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    6. I agree -- independence can only be achieved by holding a referendum. But the polls are still showing that, at best, only half of the population are in favour of independence (and likewise for holding a referendum before 2021). Without sufficient public pressure for another vote, the UK government can reasonably claim that there isn't enough interest in independence to justify granting a Section 30 order.

      If, on the other hand, polling consistently showed that a majority were in favour of independence, then it would be extremely difficult for the UK government to deny a Section 30 order. But on the basis of the numbers you presented in the above post, we're still a long way from that.

      I still believe that we would a referendum if given the chance... the problem is getting that chance. The polls are close enough that Theresa May knows there's a huge risk of the No campaign losing this time, and her reliance on the DUP means that she can't grant a Section 30 order without effectively bringing down her own government. She won't be worried about the Scottish Government holding a consultative referendum, either -- Spain showed that it's easy enough to muddy the waters by asking No-voters to boycott it and ignoring the result anyway (and if we look at the international reaction to Spain's disgraceful behaviour, there don't appear to be many consequences for doing this).

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    7. That's a recipe for going around in circles forever. There's only likely to be significant movement in public opinion (in either direction) once the referendum campaign is actually underway. Waiting for the perfect opinion poll to show to Theresa May is a mug's game.

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    8. You’re right, and I’m of the firm opinion that we need to have an independence referendum before the 2021 election. It’s just that I don’t see any way in which the UK government will consent to one given the present circumstances. I really hope I’m wrong (or that I’m at least missing something), but short of a dramatic shift in the opinion polls I can’t come up with a realistic scenario that will allow the Scottish Government to force the issue.

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  3. I have never taken the view that support for Independence has to reach 60% before we have another referendum. It depends on the political situation at the time. The right time is just around the corner with this Brexit.

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  4. These results are pretty good considering the voters have not even been shewn the need for another referendum. We may not have a Yes campaign yet but we can do our bit right now by pointng out just how shit the UK is after our opening gambit of "What a state Britain's in!"

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  5. With a strong yes campaign and a weak no campaign. It's easily over 50%. Time to grasp the nettle and announce it. Have it in a blizzard in January keep the old selfish gets off the streets!

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    1. It wont be a weak No campaign. They have been learning too, they have lots of loot, and the BBC is completely partisan now. So they will fight. They will not be able to lie so much, but they will be dirtier. Ruth and those imbeciles have no scruples.

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    2. Surely a Unionist boycott is the most likely outcome. Holyrood will have to take control of the referendum and avoid being detained by Westminster if it feels that the poll should go ahead by the end of March 2019. So there'll probably be those 'Yoons' who can't help themselves -- the 160,0000 who signed the anti referendum parliamentary petition -- plus maybe another 100,000 who'll actually vote No. This leaves the Indy side needing an absolute majority of possible voters, about 2.2 million, to win.
      That's one reason why it might be better to have the Holyrood election of 2021 as the Indy vote. Just need to throw the kitchen sink at it and get the various 'Indy dissidents' on board by means of list candidates.

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  6. The Scottish electorate won't be conned like last time as the Tory and Media lies are well exposed now. The support of Labour voters will continue to grow the more mr Corbyn says especially in Scotland. Independence is the only way to save Scotland within a single market and customs union. This is becoming increaaingly obvious.

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  7. Wonder if this is the poll which I did and one question was - are you British, Irish or other to which I answered it has to be other then as I am Scottish

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  10. Sorry, multiple posting error!
    So i n this sample there are more people who 'oppose a referendum within 3 years' than there are who would vote 'No'?
    I find that strange. Thats like saying there is 1% who would really oppose a referendum but when it came would vote 'Yes'.
    Margin of error? I would have expected the other way round.

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    1. I might be in that group. Will vote Yes in all circumstances, but doubtful about a referendum before 21, because I think we'd have a better change of getting, and winning, one in the 21-26 Parliamentary term, with an unqualified manifesto promise to hold a referendum. No if this happens or that happens: 'We will hold a referendum' as in the 2011 manifesto. If a S30 is refused again on the basis that Westminster is supposedly sovereign, then as Gavin says below, use the 22 GE for a direct mandate.

      That said: if there's a referendum in 2020, best foot forward and dae whit we can!

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    2. We already have a "direct mandate". You're doing the Tories' job for them by holding Holyrood manifestos to a higher standard of pedantry than Westminster manifestos. Any doubt over the meaning of the mandate was removed by the vote in the Scottish Parliament, by absolute majority, in favour of holding a referendum in this current term.

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    3. But a parliamentary mandate can only come from both parliaments.

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    4. James. The current qualified mandate for a referendum is not as strong as the 2011 one, which started that there would be a referendum, no qualifications.

      It is easier for May to stall a S30. That just seems factual to me.

      The First Minister has been clear that the decision to hold a referendum or otherwise will be made when the terms of Brexit are clear. The difficulty at present is we don't know when that will be clear! A referendum Bill this autumn, or spring next year latest, would facilitate a 2020 referendum.

      We shall see!

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    5. Are you unaware the Scots Govt. was proceeding with the Indyref in 2014
      and it was the UK Govt. that then suggested the process towards the Edinburgh agreement.
      Saying we in effect need English approval for Indyref2 is a narrative being encouraged by those against independence.
      When will we know when the time is right? It's a bit like an elephant,
      Ye'll ken it when ye see it.

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  11. Assuming things do deteriorate during/after Brexit, and Scotland has a mind for indyref2 before 2021----then May states that we cannot.
    That would be the time to invoke the "Thatcher option", namely that if Scots want independence, then they need to win a majority of Scottish MP's.
    Sturgeon should state that if we are banned from having a direct say on our constitutional future, then the GE of 2022 will be regarded as a vote for independence and a majority of Scottish MP's would be regarded as a mandate.

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    1. Couldn't agree more with this. It also removes the possibility of a Unionist boycott.

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  12. The referendum must take place before March 2019. That is the month when the UK will take away the rights of EU citizens to vote in the referendum. Without them it's game over. I don't think people realise sometimes that events and circumstances dictate decisions not plans and ideals. If the SNP miss that deadline then it's game over. May will be running riot by April 2019.

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    1. The Scottish electoral system is under the control of the Scottish Parliament (Scotland Act 2016, S4). The only way voting rights could be stripped from EU citizens would be if 2/3 of MSPs voted to do that. I can't see that happening.

      In any case, the total number of EU citizens in Scotland is less than three years of natural change in the electorate. Very roughly 50,000 come of age every year, and 50,000 leave the roll. There's what, 180,000 EU citizens at present.

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    2. You are too trusting Derick. Have you ever heard the term 'perfidious Albion'. Westminster will do what it wants. They wont respect anything passed by the Scottish Parliament. What if they scrap both Holyrood and it's Laws. That's what's on the cards. There are no depths to which they won't sink to keep of our resources.

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    3. If they scrap Holyrood (unfortunately they are not that stupid) on the basis that Westminster is sovereign, the immediate implication is that a majority of Scottish MPs is a mandate for a direct move to independence, as in Ireland 1918. Bring it on!

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  13. I am under 55 and have a landline (for ASDL broadband). Thing is though, if anyone ever phones the landline telephone (which is still active) I never answer it. Neither does my wife and I suspect a lot of people do that because most of our calls are made with mobile where you can better see who is calling you.

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    1. I'm in my 50s and shortly about to get rid of the landline entirely when the contract runs out in September, we don't use it for broadband and hardly ever for calls any more, it's a total waste of money. So, yeah, it's not just the kids who are landline free these days.

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  14. I've been having a look at the latest indepdence polls from each company and noticed something interesting.

    Around 3.6 million people voted in the 2014 independence referendum and 2.6 million in the 2016 EU referendum. So 2016 turnout was around 70% of 2014. However each polling company has different levels of 2014 and 2016 voters in their samples:

    Ipsos Mori:
    Yes at 48% and doesn't weight by past vote

    Survation:
    2016 voters 71% of 2014. Last poll has yes at 46%

    YouGov:
    2016 voters 94% of 2014. Last poll has Yes at 43%

    Panelbase:
    2016 voters 98% of 2014. Essentially poll of only people who voted in both referendums. Last poll has Yes at 43%

    It appears as if the more unrepresentative the proportion of both 2014/2016 voters a poll has, the lower support for independence is.
    But Survation that has independence support slightly higher than in 2014 has the right proportions of 2014/2016 voters and Ipsos Mori doesn't use poltical weighting at all.

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    1. I apolgoise, I misread the Survation numbers, they are similar to YouGov and Panelbase. However my point about unrepresentative samples still stand. If there has been a swing to no among those who voted in both referendums then that eould likrly underestimate yes a little.

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  15. There were polls showing results like this and closer just before the last referendum, yet we all know what happened.

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  16. Just a simple point. Because some people suggest they don't want another referendum doesn't mean they won't vote in it. A good campaign removes the hesitation.
    Another point. A significant percentage of the Labour vote will vote for independence come the day. A few flutes and Union Jacks will ensure that.

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  17. What percentage of support for Independence does there need to be before the SNP calls for a referendum?

    51%? 60%

    I’d rather know either way whether or not to expect one, I hate this limbo.

    Why has support for independence increased but support for unionist parties for Holyrood also increased?

    Now more than ever I think the UK needs to be reconstituted to allow FFA - it might be the only way to stop this limbo.

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    1. Limbo isnae the problem. We have the latest poll on indy showing the 55/45 gap in 2014 is now 52/48.
      That's a 10% lead for NO shrinking to just 4%.
      Stopping independence by talking up FFA is daft when we're fighting to hold onto the devo powers we already have.
      Maybe if you guys weren't so intent on 'taking back control' you'd have more credibility.

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  18. Since when were opinion polls used to decide whether to call a referendum. They are a snapshot of opinion not in any way a matter of fact. Circumstances should be what decides the new vote. It's fundamentally about democracy and should be called because it's necessary not thought to be winnable.We are at the stage where it's referendum or capitulation.

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  19. Is a Section 30 order, or at least the rubber stamping of one by Westminster, actually necessary?

    "
    …the Scottish Parliament’s competences do not depend on positive conferral of power to legislate on particular topics, but rather on the absence of relevant restrictions on its powers. While there is currently no express permission in the Scotland Act to hold an independence referendum neither is there any explicit prohibition.
    "
    ---Professor Aileen McHarg, expert in constitutional law.

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    1. The union is explicitly a reserved matter though. Holyrood could hold a unilateral poll, but it would be legally meaningless.

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  20. James, I see they are showing 16-24 results in the Indyref tables.
    Presumably that would have been virtually impossible if they had stuck to landline only calls.

    How likely is it that they are getting representative data by just including "some" calls to mobile numbers?

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  21. i don't know a single person my age who has a landline. I think this is a great poll for Yes if it's majority landline people.

    surely these companies need to get with the times..? A simple text message to mobiles would deliver a more accurate response.

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  22. Scotland does not need England's permission to leave the Union any more than the UK needed Europe's permission to leave the EU.

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    1. Spot on Adam. We should use that time and again.

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  23. Adam, sorry but that isn’t true. The UK joined, and will leave, an international organisation where they aren’t technically politically untied or bound by a constitution that requires consent. Scotland, and England, are part of THE SAME COUNTRY and, like Catalonia, can’t declare UDI and be recognised. That’s how it works. For the same reason, Falkirk couldn’t leave an independent Scotland straight away following a local referendum.

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  24. The Nat sis should declare UDI inspite of the majority being in favour of the Union. Then watch what happens next...Go on do it fascists, cannae wait.

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    1. If it ever does happen then it would be the perfect excuse to junk devolution. They could say 'in 20 years you've gone from an amicable devolution settlement and consensus politics to a failed independence referendum and UDI. This is a failed experiment and we're ending it now'.

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