Friday, April 11, 2014

Poll commissioned by anti-independence campaign backfires catastrophically, with almost as many people backing independence even when confronted with a leading question

One day, very very soon, we're going to start calling a brass neck a 'McDougall'. Just 24 hours after mocking the Yes campaign for using a supposedly leading question in their Panelbase poll (which, incidentally, was merely a supplementary question that was asked AFTER the real referendum question), the anti-independence camp's embarrassment of a campaign chief has brazenly published a poll in which the real referendum question was replaced lock, stock and barrel by a leading and entirely hypothetical one asking whether people would prefer independence or a devolved parliament with enhanced powers (as opposed to the status quo that is actually on offer in exchange for a No vote). It's always been assumed that such a question would produce an entirely different result, given that a number of Yes voters are really Devo Max supporters who are plumping for their second preference. So there must have been profound shock over at McDougall Central when the numbers from YouGov came back looking like this -

If you had to choose one or the other, which of the following would you prefer for Scotland?

Scotland becoming an independent country : 35%

Scotland remaining part of the UK with increased powers for the Scottish Parliament : 57%

The support for independence is just TWO PER CENT lower than when YouGov posed the actual referendum question a couple of weeks ago, and the support for more devolution is just FIVE PER CENT higher than the No vote in that poll (although of course opposition to independence and support for enhanced devolution are far from being the same thing). This suggests that underlying support for independence has considerably deepened.

Why on Earth have they willingly published such catastrophic findings? It seems that after a run of polling setbacks, bad really is the new good for the No campaign.

(PS.  Can we now look forward to John Curtice referring to YouGov as "the No campaign's favourite pollster"?  Fair's fair.)


  1. Aye.

    Thought exactly the same on seeing this earlier.

    Great poll analyses on this site BTW. Very conservative which is ideal. As a fellow poll geek I tip my hat.

  2. Let's compare this with Better Together's Jan poll:

    Jan YouGov/BT
    Independence: 30%
    More Powers/Status Quo: 61%
    Don't Know: 9%

    April YouGov/BT
    Independence: 35%
    More Powers: 57%
    Don't Know: 8%

    They obviously removed the "status quo" option second time around to try and pretend they are the "Pro devolution" campaign.

  3. SS: Thanks very much. I always look forward to reading your insights at Wings.

    Calum : I'd forgotten all about that January poll. That demonstrates the recent shift in opinion rather nicely.

  4. It does indeed. The "No lead" has dropped 9% in 3 months, although according to BT's blog "This poll confirms the drop in support for separation". Between this attempt at a push poll and their excitement about the Survation one, they are obviously getting very very rattled.

  5. Jings that is terrible for them. In a straight run-off between what many people would assume was devo-max, independence is at 38% when you take out the don't knows. Using the most No-friendly pollster.

    Why would they ask that question anyway? Just for a cheap headline? Or in the hope that they can pretend the No option is really offering more powers? I think that ship sailed some time ago.

  6. "Using the most No-friendly pollster."

    To be fair, after their most recent poll that showed Yes at a record high, YouGov are now only the third-most No-friendly pollster (after Ipsos-Mori and TNS-BMRB). But until September of last year, they tended to take turns with Ipsos-Mori as the outright most No-friendly.

    As for the No campaign's motivations, judging by the way they're spinning this poll the intention seemed to be to pretend that they'd asked something approximating to the real referendum question, so that they could artifically claim a drop in support for "separation". The mind boggles.

    1. I wonder what John Curtice, the world's only polling expert, will say about this one?

  7. We have not seen an Ipsos-Mori Independence question poll for some time. They must be one soon?

  8. @Calum

    Do you mean this one with fieldwork done in mid to late December?

    Maybe reported in January.

  9. Yes it's that one, I was confused because it was reported in January.

  10. YG fieldwork 20-24 March

    "Imagine that, instead of the proposed two-option referendum on independence there was a three-
    option referendum, offering people the choice of full Scottish independence, increased devolution
    to the Scottish Parliament or maintaining the Scottish Parliament's existing powers. How
    would you then vote?"

    Indy 31% : More Powers 36% : Status quo 22%

    So in a couple of weeks indy rises by 4% according to this style of question.