Monday, August 26, 2013

Pro-independence campaign makes gains in latest Angus Reid poll

Many thanks to Marcia for alerting me to the latest Angus Reid poll on referendum voting intentions, which shows the Yes campaign closing the gap from fifteen to thirteen points -

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 34% (+2)
No 47% (-)

John Curtice's blogpost about the poll essentially bills it as a 'no change' affair. That's arguably a slightly odd analysis given that this is the second successive Angus Reid poll to show a cut in the No lead, which stood a full five points higher at the start of the year.  But give Curtice his due - his post is a hell of a lot more justifiable than the 'report' in the rag that actually commissioned the poll, which largely ignores the rather inconvenient headline figures and instead focuses on the "shock" findings that 16% of Scottish residents would "think about" leaving if Alex Salmond achieves his "dream" of "breaking up" the "United" Kingdom.  Apparently we should be particularly concerned that Tory voters are most likely to "think about" finding a new haunt, because of all the tax revenues they kindly donate to us less enlightened souls.

"The potential loss of tax revenue would be a disaster for the first government of an independent Scotland, as well triggering a crash in the housing market and leaving the nation with a catastrophic skills gap.

It would also prove a damaging blow to the confidence and credibility of the SNP."

Hmmm. If even Paul Daniels didn't keep his promise to leave these shores in the event of a Labour government, consider me a tad sceptical that one-sixth of the population of Scotland would up and leave in the event of a Yes vote. Even so, it would have been interesting just for balance to discover what percentage of the population of the rest of the UK would "think about" moving to Scotland after independence, to become refugees from London's austerity politics.

Another supplementary finding that the Express seem to consider more important than the headline figures is that "a sovereign Holyrood would be left in charge of around three million people who wish to remain citizens of a foreign nation". Well now, this is odd, because I'm already a citizen of a foreign nation (the United States), and I've no wish to give that citizenship up in the event of independence. In unionist-speak, I suppose this is "a catastrophic blow to the confidence and credibility of the SNP, as a pro-independence daft wee laddie (© Duncan Hothersall) declares that he would want to be a foreigner in a separate Scotland".

To move away from the Express for a moment and back to sanity, what strikes me most about this poll is that it is no longer really the case that Panelbase are the exotic outliers of independence polling. Although Angus Reid are still showing a slightly higher No lead than Panelbase, they're now much closer to Panelbase than to Ipsos-Mori or YouGov (admittedly we haven't had an official YouGov independence poll for almost a year, but it's probably safe to assume their methodology will continue to flatter the No campaign).

Now, a couple of quick questions for Blair McDougall, if he can take a moment away from his firefighting efforts in the wake of the disturbing #pounds4mcdougallgate revelations -

1) When the recent Panelbase poll on referendum voting intentions was released, you claimed in a tweet that the undecideds were "breaking for No", on the grounds that the No vote was up 2% and the Yes vote was up only 1%. Would it be fair to say, therefore, that this Angus Reid poll clearly shows that the undecideds are breaking for Yes, given that the Yes vote is up 2% and the No vote is static?

2) In your Sunday Times piece last week, you claimed that only one pollster - Panelbase - showed an increase in the Yes vote. In future #pounds4mcdougallgate articles, will you be equally keen to update that observation, and note that both pollsters who have reported most recently agree that the Yes vote has increased?


  1. This poll had a sample of 500 or so. I believe that means all figures are ±10%. Hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from a sample that small.

    1. AllyPally : Is that the latest myth being spun by the No camp? The margin of error for a sample size of 500 is nowhere near 10% - it's more like 4% or 5%, only slightly higher than you'd get with a full-scale sample of 1000. If you want to work out the exact number, I believe ComRes have a margin of error calculator on their website. From memory, the sample size would have to be as low as 100 befote you'd get to a margin of error of 10%.

      The idea that you can't take a sample of 500 seriously is ludicrous - it's an absolutely standard number in many countries, including some US polling.

  2. And yet another poll which shows that less than half of Scots support The Union.
    Disaster for UKok/voteNo/BT/mcdougallisalyingtoad!

  3. Update : And from the horse's mouth at Angus Reid - "From August 14 to August 16, 2013, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 549 randomly selected adults in Scotland who are Springboard UK panelists. The margin of error — which measures sampling variability — is +/- 4.2%"