Monday, December 16, 2013

Clues from YouGov about undecided voters

Just one final (probably!) dip into the details of last week's YouGov referendum poll. Unlike the recent Ipsos-Mori poll or the second Panelbase poll commissioned by Wings over Scotland, there doesn't seem to have been any direct attempt made to discover how the Don't Knows are more inclined to vote.  However, there was one question on the economy which produced responses that correlated extraordinarily closely to actual voting intentions - just 2% of Yes voters thought that an independent Scotland would be economically worse off, while 0% of No voters thought it would be economically better off.  So it struck me that the responses of undecided voters to that question might furnish us with a very useful indirect way of detecting which way those people may be leaning. Irritatingly, YouGov haven't provided that particular cross-break, but it's still possible to get a rough idea by extrapolating from the percentages elsewhere in the datasets.  These numbers won't be absolutely dead-on accurate, but they'll be reasonably close.


14% think an independent Scotland would be economically better off.
9% think an independent Scotland would be economically worse off.
12% think independence would make no difference to Scotland's economic prospects.
65% don't know how independence would affect Scotland's economic prospects.

(Note : Technically the above numbers include 'won't votes' as well, but they're a relatively small percentage.)

Now I'm not pretending for a moment that these numbers represent some kind of slam-dunk for the Yes campaign.  But one thing that is self-evident is that this section of the electorate bears very little resemblance to the No camp's current constituency of support.  (For comparison, the figures for No supporters are : Better off - 0%, Worse off - 88%, No difference - 7%, Don't Know - 5%.)  So at the very least it would appear that the undecideds are wide open to persuasion by either campaign.  And interestingly, it may not be quite enough for the No campaign to fight their opponents to a stalemate on the economic arguments, because the poll also seems to suggest that people who think that independence would make no difference to our economic prospects are at the moment breaking disproportionately for Yes.  Again, this is based on an extrapolation, because the relevant raw numbers haven't been provided.


Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 55%
No 30%

So it's just possible that the bar is slightly higher for the No campaign on the economy - to win new converts, they may need to persuade undecided voters that Scotland's economic prospects would actually be worse under independence, rather than merely no better.

Either way, it's worth bearing in mind that if YouGov's headline figures are accurate (admittedly a big if), it wouldn't be sufficient for the Yes campaign to win over a lion's share of the Don't Knows - they would also need a chunk of the No camp's current support.  But it wouldn't necessarily have to be that big a chunk.


  1. Don't forget than YouGov's question might lead people to say no by asking how they would vote tomorrow. As TNS show, when a more neutral question is asked there are a lot more undecided voters (and both yes and no votes drop).

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  3. Hmm so the no camp all share economic pessimism. I wonder what they're views of the UK economy are in the future?

  4. And over on PB a thread to rival their "orange order loving, rule britannia singing Britnat institution being liquidated is bad news for the SNP".

    Smithson must be sharing some of seant's finest.

  5. Ah, so Andy Murray's SPOTY victory is "good news for the No campaign" - that'll be why Nicola Sturgeon was using Twitter to urge people to vote for him last night, will it?!

    Smithson just doesn't 'get' Scotland and never will, so all we can do is just shake our heads wearily at this kind of thing (and that's certainly all I can do after my Kafkaesque banning from the site!). I'll never forget the time that two or three of us patiently tried to explain to him the meaning of the term "ninety-minute nationalist" - he'd completely misunderstood it based on some garbled explanation he'd once heard. His response was to try to 'correct' us!