Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pro-independence campaign cut the gap to yet another record low in dramatic new YouGov poll

A new referendum poll has just been released on the Channel 4 News website. It was conducted by YouGov, traditionally one of the most No-friendly pollsters, and shows the No lead falling to a new record low for the campaign so far -

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 37% (n/c)
No 51% (-1)

Due to rounding, the position is unchanged when Don't Knows are excluded (although of course the numbers still replicate the record high for Yes recorded in the last survey) -

Yes 42% (n/c)
No 58% (n/c)

For the avoidance of doubt, Channel 4's reporting of this poll is utterly and absurdly misleading, and doubtless we can "look forward" to more of the same in televisual form at 7pm tonight. They are comparing apples with oranges (or apples with tractors, more like) by suggesting that this poll is somehow reasonably OK for the No campaign because it shows the lead as being higher than in "other recent results", which is presumably a reference to ICM, Survation and Panelbase polls. The reality is, of course, that different polling organisations have been producing wildly different numbers in this campaign, and the only way of making sense of any new poll is to compare it with previous polls from the same company.

YouGov suggested that the No camp reached their high watermark in August of last year, with a 59% share of the vote and a seemingly impregnable 30% lead over Yes. The lead dipped sharply to 20% the following month, which some commentators dismissed as an illusion caused by methodological changes. The figures then seemed to stabilise somewhat, and until a few weeks ago the lead had still not fallen below 18%, allowing YouGov's unionist-oriented chief Peter Kellner to claim a "no change" position - even though almost every other pollster was showing a statistically significant drop in the No lead since the publication of the White Paper. Kellner's fantasy finally went out of the window in late March when YouGov showed the No lead slumping to 15% - easily its lowest of the campaign so far, and just half of the August lead. Now it has slipped even further to 14%.

Professor John Curtice will doubtless issue a caution that a one-point drop in the No lead is well within the margin of error and is not necessarily significant in statistical terms, and that is perfectly true. But the same could initially have been said about the 3% drop in the No lead in the previous YouGov poll. This new poll does two things - it makes it dramatically less likely that the No lead only fell outside its normal range in the last poll due to normal sampling variation, and it opens up at least the possibility that there has been even further slippage in the No lead since March.

Some Yes supporters may be encouraged by the trend, but still wonder if it's possible to achieve an outright victory when any pollster is showing a 14% lead for our opponents with four-and-a-half months to go until polling day. There are two answers to that. Firstly, it depends on whether YouGov are actually getting their methodology right. If ICM and Panelbase are closer to the truth, then YouGov are probably overstating the No lead by about 10%, which means that Yes only require an extremely modest 2-3% swing to win (in YouGov terms that would still leave the No campaign with a 'phantom' lead in the region of 9-11%). The second answer, of course, is that even if YouGov are right, Yes would still only require a swing that is smaller than the one the SNP achieved over a shorter timescale in the run-up to the 2011 election.

YouGov also asked a series of supplementary questions on a range of standard scare stories about independence, and the results are nothing short of a horror show for the No campaign. By a margin of 45% to 38%, respondents think that an independent Scotland would be able to use the pound as part of a formal currency union. (Surely that doesn't mean we think that all three London parties are fibbing?) By a comfortable margin of 46% to 34%, voters think that an independent Scotland would be able to remain a member of the EU. (Andrew Marr thinks they're wrong, he has to say.) By a margin of 41% to 38%, they think an independent Scotland would be able to maintain state pensions at the current level, and by a margin of 43% to 40% they do not anticipate that major businesses and employers would leave Scotland after independence.

But look on the bright side, Mr McDougall - we still have no idea whether voters bought the scare story about the pandas being whisked away. Maybe that should be the subject of your next internal poll?

As usual, YouGov have indulged in their eccentric practice of splitting people who recall voting SNP in 2011 into two groups, and weighting them separately. One of the groups is not upweighted at all, while the other group is upweighted massively. It's very troubling that YouGov never reveal the breakdown of voting intentions for those two groups, because until and unless they do the suspicion is bound to linger that this procedure is largely the explanation for the sharp divergence with the more Yes-friendly results produced by all of the other online polling companies. However, that's only speculation.

* * *


As you'd expect, the latest update of this blog's Poll of Polls shows the No lead slipping to another all-time low.  It now stands at just 11.2%.

MEAN AVERAGE (not excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 35.8% (n/c)
No 47.0% (-0.2)

MEAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 43.2% (+0.1)
No 56.8% (-0.1)

MEDIAN AVERAGE (excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 43.6% (+0.2)
No 56.4% (-0.2)

(The Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the pollsters that have been active in the referendum campaign since September 2013, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are six - YouGov, TNS-BMRB, Survation, Panelbase, Ipsos-Mori and ICM. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample. Changes in the Poll of Polls are generally glacial in nature due to the fact that only a small portion of the sample is updated each time.)

Here are the long-term trend figures, with the previous numbers recalculated to exclude the inactive pollster Angus Reid...

The No campaign's lead in the Poll of Polls headline figures :

Sep 2013 - 21.6%
Sep 2013 - 21.4%
Sep 2013 - 19.4%
Oct 2013 - 18.8%
Oct 2013 - 18.4%
Oct 2013 - 18.2%
Nov 2013 - 18.4%
Nov 2013 - 18.0%
Dec 2013 - 17.0%
Dec 2013 - 16.8%
Dec 2013 - 16.4%
Jan 2014 - 14.4%
Jan 2014 - 14.2%
Jan 2014 - 14.2%
Jan 2014 - 15.2%
Feb 2014 - 15.0%
Feb 2014 - 15.5%
Feb 2014 - 15.5%
Feb 2014 - 13.7%
Feb 2014 - 13.3%
Feb 2014 - 14.2%
Mar 2014 - 14.2%
Mar 2014 - 14.5%
Mar 2014 - 14.5%
Mar 2014 - 14.7%
Mar 2014 - 13.8%
Mar 2014 - 13.0%
Mar 2014 - 12.5%
Apr 2014 - 12.5%
Apr 2014 - 12.7%
Apr 2014 - 12.7%
Apr 2014 - 12.3%
Apr 2014 - 11.4%
May 2014 - 11.2%

And finally, an update of the averages for the four online pollsters that have reported so far this year (YouGov, ICM, Survation and Panelbase) -

MEAN AVERAGE OF ONLINE POLLSTERS (not excluding Don't Knows) :

Yes 38.5% (n/c)
No 46.0% (-0.3)


Yes 45.6% (+0.2)
No 54.4% (-0.2)


Yes 46.1% (n/c)
No 53.9% (n/c)


  1. Interesting question in the tables for the recent Euro poll.

    Which of these parties do you think best stands up for the interests of Scotland?

    SNP: 47%
    Labour: 17%
    Conservative: 6%
    Lib Dems: 2%
    Green Party: 1%
    UKIP: 1%

  2. Interesting that on the "scare stories" questions, The No side is in the minority on all of them.

  3. I love the way they are spinning this on twitter as brilliant news for the no campaign. LOL.

  4. Yougov of course 11-13% too 'British'. As we saw when they asked CoB of their panel previously, they were well off with too many people from England. In this poll they've asked natID and of course are well away from reality based on the census and long-running academic SSAS surveys. This is before we have the silly 2010 weighting.

    In brackets shows error compared to the SSAS.

    We are interested to know how people living in Scotland see themselves in terms of their nationality. Which of the statements best describes how you regard yourself?

    24(-5) Scottish, not British
    25 (-8) More Scottish than British
    30 (+5) Equally Scottish and British
    5 (+1) More British than Scottish
    9 (+5) British, not Scottish
    5 (corr) Other
    1 Don't know

  5. I should note that the CoB/natID can have a drastic effect on results. You are handing up to 10 points to No and lopping off up to 5 from Yes.

    Correct this and well, you have results more like ICM and panelbase.

  6. Yougov make it very difficult to re-weight as they only give %'s in cross-tabs rather than absolute numbers of total respondent base.

    Do my best to re-weight to natID and it looks more like Yes low 40's with no only a point ahead, i.e. like panelbase or ICM (if the latter is also corrected for natID; it being slightly off too).


  7. When I saw this post on Facebook I clicked on the link and FB warned me that it was a "spam" link. I pressed "Not Spam" and arrived here. There is something about the link that FB dislikes. Independent thought perhaps.

  8. I notice that the voting intentions for ABC1 and C2DE are almost identical again - that's definitely a suspicion.

  9. Calum : It's a weird one, that. To get to rough parity the Yes vote has supposedly increased sharply among ABC1s and decreased sharply among C2DEs. It may just be a very weird sample that has magically balanced itself out, although it does make it harder to have confidence in the representativeness of YouGov's panel when they keep producing such implausible findings.

    I see that one of our main two quality newspapers is reporting this poll, which shows a drop in the No lead to a new record low, in the following manner -

    "The campaign to keep Scotland in the UK appears to have gained support, with a new poll showing more than half of voters could reject independence."

    It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry. The Herald is turning into a parody of itself.

  10. The Herald does seem to be getting desperate the last few days. What a shame.

  11. Telephone surveys. How many young and people in rented accommodation voters don't have a landline? How many older voters don't have access to the Internet? The only poll that counts is the one in September. Roll on a YES vote, despite the media propaganda.

  12. Good solid poll considering just how long there is till the vote and the likely impact of debates and even more intense grass roots campaigning. Nothing surprising about the direction the papers are taking though. They're going to be lying through their teeth ever more blatantly and loudly the more desperate the No campaign gets.

    Off-Topic - Sorry to bother Theuniondivvie again but if has time could he please point out on that I am still being completely blocked from posting on politicalbetting. I would have asked him myself through PB long ago but completely blocked from posting means exactly that. The ability to use PB's messaging system has been blocked for me too. It won't work.

  13. Hi Mick,

    pm-ed the PB moderator with your situation this am, but no reply so far. I'll post here if I hear anything.


  14. Thanks Theuniondivvie.

    To be perfectly frank I'll be surprised if you do get a reply as the only reason Richard Tyndall was allowed to post again was because it was pointed out on the site repeatedly that he had been 'mysteriously' prevented from posting so the same will almost certainly apply for me.

    We all know the tory PB moderators are spineless cowards so if they can get away with banning those who disagree with them secretly and with nobody noticing then they will.

  15. Just saw your post on PB Theunoindivvie. Thank you very much for making it and standing up for mo on there mate. It takes a bit of guts considering how nasty the moderators can be.

    One thing though, I can log in to vanilla, I am just prevented from doing anything on PB while I am there which includes posting or messaging. A rather telling "YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO DO THAT" comes up whenever I try to post anything which obviously points to it being the Moderators who have sneakily and cowardly changed my access parameters since self-evidently nobody else can do that on PB.

  16. Thanks again for having the guts to stick up for me theuniondivve as I just saw your post as well as AlanBrooke making a complete twat of himself trying to excuse the pathetic PB mods.

    Apparently it's my computers fault the mods and Smithson are so pointedly ignoring you and this is a "consistent" 'fault' despite it never happening before and me posting for months without any such trouble.

    Bit much to expect any of the right-wing cowards on PB to care about posters being blocked for no reason and with nothing even close to a plausible excuse.

    The herd also don't seem to have noticed that BobaFette is also strangely absent from posting of late as well as compouter. Though that might just be because PB is such a far-right zoo at the mo to be fair.

    Can you imagine the volume of the shrieking if it was one of the PB tories being prevented from posting on PB?


    I also don't see the mockney sex tourist SeanT being prevented from posting despite his death threats on PB and posting of Tim's families personal details, tellingly enough.

  17. Mick, I finally got a response from the mods last night. Apparently some kind soul has been trawling the internet looking for comments from you re. PB & OGH, and has scampered back to PB to grass you up (I'm sure we could both make a list of likely candidates):

    'We haven't fixed Mick's problem yet, it was brought to our attention Mick's been saying some inaccurate and insulting comments about Mike Smithson elsewhere.
    So we're looking into that before we restore his posting privileges.'

    Still, it indicates that the PB Tories are monitoring James's site on a regular basis, if there was any doubt!

  18. Sorry?? So the tory moderators on PB are now SERIOUSLY claiming that they are in charge of moderating OTHER internet sites to see if the comments there meet with their approval as well?? That's absolutely fucking incredible!!

    I notice this supposed mod didn't even have the balls to say what comments and on where lest they look even more ridiculous.

    If I actually wanted to spread stuff about Smithson or the PB moderators elsewhere then I could do it on the biggest scottish political sites like newsnet or Wings but I could go wall to wall on the Telegraph, Mail and plenty of other media outlets. For that matter I could do it on ANY of those websites and change my name or go anonymously just as I could easily have gone anonymously on James site.

    The reason I didn't is not only that I couldn't care less about the fragile ego of PB's mods and I wouldn't waste my fucking time, but that only a deranged power mad lunatic would think they can police the ENTIRE internet for comments from everyone as they moderate one particular site as this mod on PB jaw-droppingly thinks.

    What's to stop someone posting under the name of anyone else on PB and using that as cover while they smear other posters elsewhere? Didn't that occur to the mod who you were talking to?

    Are you certain it was a mod posting to you theuniondivvie? As what you've told us sounds about as reasonable and sane as SeanT posting on PB when he's pissed.

    You've not only had it confirmed that you and the site were lied to with "the few hours to fix the problem" bullshit but you've also had it confirmed that somebody posting to you as a moderator on PB now wants to police the entire internet just in case someone who posts on PB also posts something they don't like on any other site.

    And they ACTUALLY GENUINELY want those who post on PB to know that is their new moderating stance and that mod told you that?? Whoever wrote that to you has flipped their lid TUD. It's the only possible explanation.

    If they keep trying to ban me for no reason (because this new insanity isn't even fucking CLOSE to being one) then by all means feel free to point that staggering fact out. Even the herd and the PB tories would be hard pushed to justify that lunacy considering how many of them post elsewhere and with even less inhibition than they do on PB.

    The fact is I was prevented from posting on PB long BEFORE this moderator started to desperately look for other (frankly crazy) reasons to justify it. You know it, I know it and he knows it.

  19. Mick Pork - or is AlanBrooke or Carlotta in disguise? LOLMay 6, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    It gets even better!

    So you DID point out that was the reason this supposed mod gave you and the PB tories apperently couldn't care less that anything they say on another site can be taken down and used against them by this eccentric mod.

    Even Shadsy joined in with the hilarity.


    Do the mods even realise how utterly insane this new moderating policy makes them look??

    You now have the PERFECT comeback to any PB tory by simply asking if they have said anything more unpleasant on another site and whether that meets with PB's mods approval.

    You can even turn up the laughter by positing if Carlotta (or anyone else) was posting as someone on Paul Staines (or any other) site and whether that meets with PoliticalBetting's new moderating rules.

    Imagine the fun as everyone starts to look for aliases for everyone else on other sites and whether what is said elsewhere meets with this mods approval. Pure Comedy Gold.

    It's not even as if this mod has left any wiggle room as he has told you I'm not allowed to post, not because not because of what *I* said, but because of what someone ELSE has told him I supposedly said on another site. Completely and utterly bonkers.

    Thank god the mod didn't just allow me back on like he did with Richard Tyndall or PoliticalBetting and TSE could have ended up a complete laughing stock by now.

  20. Mick,

    Interesting to read of your PB experiences. A similar thing happened to me.

    I was banned without warning or explanation. Needless to say, attempts to find out what the heck happened have met with silence, so I remain genuinely mystified as to what exactly my "offence" was.

    This happened during a period when TSE was "guest editing" in Mike Smithson's absence.

    I know for a fact similar has happened to many other non-Rightwing posters. Bannings and moderation for minor breaches of the (increasingly bizarre) "Site rules". Or in my case no breach of any rule.

    Meanwhile, Rightwing posters get away with serious and repeated breaches of those same rules. I have even seen clear libels go unmoderated and unpunished.

    I don't know if Mike Smithson is aware of what some of his Moderators are up to. Or whether it's deliberate on the part of mods, or they're simply unable to put their political biases to one side.

    Either way, it's clear that PB's Rightwing moderators are discouraging or (in my case) actively preventing left of centre / non-Tory posters.

    As a result PB is now nothing more than a sterile Rightwing talking shop.

  21. Oh and James, apologies for the hijack!

    This is one of the sites on both sides I've been reading more often as the big date gets closer. Keep up the good work.

    While I'm at it I should declare, I suppose, that I'm marginally in the No camp.

    This is where "cybernats" go crazy on me, I know what happens, I read it on PB :-)

  22. Thanks Hugh. Your support is much appreciated mate. Your experience on PB is utterly unsurprising sadly.

    As for the Indy vote, just keep reading up on various sites and if you can manage it go to one of the many meetings and debates being organised on the ground. You'll find that more persuasive than 1000 posts on a blog. As long as people find out for themselves and don't treat the scottish or westminster media as the only arbiter of opinion then you will have the satisfaction of voting on Independence as informed on the matter as possible. Be it Yes or No.