Thursday, August 20, 2020

Some thoughts on the methodology of the ComRes poll

As I mentioned yesterday, the ComRes poll showed the SNP doing a little less well on Holyrood voting intentions than in recent polls from Panelbase and YouGov - albeit still well enough for the seats projection to give them an overall single-party majority.  I wondered if there might be a methodological reason for the difference, and now that the datasets have been released a few possibilities leap out.  

First of all, unlike Panelbase, ComRes have weighted by 2016 Holyrood vote recall, rather than 2019 Westminster vote recall.  That's not necessarily illogical in a poll of Holyrood voting intentions, but if you're asking people to cast their minds back four-and-a-half years, when they've voted in no fewer than two general elections since then, there may be a potential for faulty recollection.

Secondly, although there's no suggestion in the explanatory note that the results are weighted by 2014 indyref vote recall, there is, for whatever reason, a sharp divergence between the unweighted and weighted numbers on that point.  After weighting, the 429 respondents who recalled voting Yes in 2014 ended up counting as only 330 people.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the phrasing of the question asking for voting intentions on the list is strikingly similar to Survation's, in that it describes the list vote as a "second" vote.  We know from Survation polls that this tends to produce worse results for the SNP on the list, and better results for the Greens - probably because some respondents wrongly gain the impression they're being asked about a second preference vote.


  1. I feel it is really important James that you and others continually point out the significance and difference between the constituency FPTP ballot and the regional list PR ballot. As far as i can see one of the very few tactics left to the unionists to muddy the waters on this issue in order to split the SNP vote.

    1. If the unionists do manage to achieve that, it would be akin to shooting themselves in the foot. But nothing would surprise me.

  2. Do any of these polls break down the pro-Indy vote by Scots, EU " New Scots" etc ?

  3. Panelbase has cross breaks for country of birth (Scotland, England, Other) but think they may be the only one.

    I've been playing around with some Data viz software and broke down the results of the Panelbase independence poll that came out yesterday into the various categories (age, gender previous vote etc). You can see results here:

    1. lol Thank you :) Might need to crowd fund for some glasses...should be a law that poll tables can't be released as non machine readable PDFs that have the smallest possible font used on them!

    2. It's weird, some prominent bloggers claim they prefer to live in England because 'unlike the scots, the English are brave because they support their country's independence'.

      However, this poll shows 3/4 of English oppose English indy.

      That's hardy very brave.

      1/4 of course can hold their heads high in this respect, backing English independence from Scotland / vice versa.

    3. It would be interesting to poll the Scots living in England and Wales re Scottish Independence

    4. Interesting, Aye but irrelevant.
      This was an idea pushed by the STOP SCOTLAND (better together) mob in 2014.
      The idea was that Anglo Scots would be pro-union.
      They might try it again though.
      Nae stone unturned to stop Scotland!

    5. Quality work, Adam. Thanks.

    6. Well done Adam. Easy to read graphics.

    7. "They might try it again though."

      LOL, aye, but because unionists desire it, there is no legal way to identify a Scot outside of Scotland.

      Scottish doesn't exist as a legal nationality (requires independence) and the only way to define a Scottish citizen is legal residence (the current franchise).

      If unionists wanted to e.g. use a similar franchise as the UK used for the EU ref so 'overseas Scots' could vote, we'd need to define Scottish nationality. That would automatically exclude most English folks living here, just as EU citizens were excluded from 2016.

      As noted, this is the fault of unionists, who oppose the international legal recognition of Scottish nationals.

    8. As for the Telegraph: Micheal Gove is legally English & British now.

      He can't provide any legal documentation in support of Scottish nationality or citizenship. Birth certificates don't legally confer Scottish nationality any more than parentage as there is no such thing as Scottish nationality.

      There is only Scottish citizenship by legal residence, which allows you to vote here, pay Scottish tax rates, be called upon for jury service etc.

    9. Scottish births are registered as born in Scotland.

    10. Yes, but but that doesn't confer Scottish nationality as the latter doesn't legally exist / is legally undefined, hence you can't get a Scottish passport.

      Birth is sometimes used for this purpose, but normally it comes from parentage. My wife was born in Morocco but isn't Moroccan; she's French.

      Maybe after indy Scotland might decide that birth here alone qualifies for nationality (which would of course mean that a tourist giving birth here would have a Scottish child), but for now, that's not the case, legally.

      If Gove argued that a Scottish birth certificate was the qualifying criteria for iref2, then English / Welsh / N. Irish born who are resident in Scotland should not be voting.

      To register people to vote we need to have some sort of legal document which confirms they qualify. At present, legal residency is all we have.

      There are lots of Scots born in England who 'identify' as Scottish, but legally they are English and British citizens who previously lived / were born in Scotland.

    11. Obviously, I support 'Scottish' expats being able to get Scottish nationality / a passport, including Gove. That comes with indy; international recognition of Scottish nationality wherever you are in the world.

      However, Gove opposes this and by doing so, legally exudes himself from any possibility of voting in Scotland unless he moves back. So he cannae complain.

  4. Just waiting for some Unionist to say 'The only poll that matters etc.'
    Only works if you're prepared to accept the result of the election.
    Not a strong point for the anti-democratic Tories.
    Ditto Labour and LibDems.
    Unionists refusal to accept basic democracy has piled on support for independence.
    That's where the recent rise to 55% has come from. No question.

    1. No, the rise imho, has come from the pandemic resulting in the incompetence of the UK government being laid bare for all to see.

  5. If female civil servants were 'advised not to be alone with Salmond', how come nobody thought to warn Sturgeon? Is she not woman? Did those concerned not worry about her welfare? What if he'd attacked her because she didn't take precautions because she had not been warned?

    What about Linda Fabiani? Did she get this warning? How many other women were not warned?

    I think there are serious questions to be asked about those whose job it was to give this warning. They seemed to have failed many women, potentially putting many women in a vulnerable position.

    Of course we know Salmond isn't a risk, that has been proven in court, but that doesn't change this dereliction of duty on behalf of those who apparently had cause to believe otherwise in the past.

    It's amusing watching these people trip themselves up.

  6. Is see that Richard Leonard is having another attempt at making Labour relevant in Scotland this morning.

    No doubt will be saying nothing new and will fail like all the previous attempts.

  7. I thought there wasn't going to be any iref2?

    Why did Boris visit to bolster the union? Why has be replaced Carlaw with someone 'young and fresh faced' in the form of Douglas Ross to save the union? Why is Gove recruiting the likes of Galloway to team #BetterTogether2 and talking about franchises if Bozo can just say no?

    "The row began when former MP George Galloway claimed on social media: "I'll tell you this, if there's to be a second IndyRef, then 795,000 Scots living elsewhere in the UK must have a vote.

    "If UK expats can vote in general elections from Spain then an existential question like Separatism must be answered by all Scots."

    Gove responded: "Interesting question."

    As noted above, neither Galloway nor Gove can provide any legal documentation supporting their status as 'Scots' citizens/nationals. Only people legally living here can do that (electoral register address).

    This is their own fault for opposing such a thing back in 2014.

    1. And a reminder that if there are 800k 'Scots' in England, we need to add their taxes / their business taxes to GERS. After all, they are Scots citizens, as defined by unionists.

      We can of course, fairly, remove the ~500k English in Scotland, giving us a 300k person tax surplus currently missing from the 'Scottish' input to the union coffers.

      This would mean that English are being supported by Scots taxes in a substantial way.

  8. Remind me, did EU Nationals in the UK get to vote in the EU referendum?
    No, thought not..
    Don't do as I do, do as I say.
    So what does that leave? Change the wording of the Indyref question or muddy the waters with multi options on the ballot.
    Renew the VOW? Na, no longer credible with the divorce papers in.
    Offer Holyrood increased borrowing powers on the eve of poll next May?
    6 months too late.
    Project Fear has run its race.
    That just leaves 'something will turn up' and it won't be Douglas Ross
    and his magic flag.