Thanks to Marcia on the previous thread for pointing out that the SNP's Twitter feed is reporting that a new Populus poll in the morning will show the following figures once Don't Knows are excluded -
Should Scotland be an independent country?
We apparently won't be given any more details until the morning. A number of questions have already formed in my mind about the poll, and until we know the answers it'll be impossible to assess just how big a breakthrough this is for the Yes campaign -
1) Was this an SNP internal poll? The only reason for thinking it might be is that it was the SNP who broke the news. There isn't necessarily any problem if it was, as long as the referendum question was asked first and without any leading preambles. Certainly the last SNP-commissioned Panelbase poll was given a clean bill of health by Professor Curtice, but we'd have to wait and see.
2) Was this a telephone or online poll? It could be either, because Populus regularly conduct polls by both methods. If it was a telephone poll, this would be the biggest moment of the campaign so far, suggesting that the Yes campaign are on the brink of victory. Even if it was an online poll (which is probably the more likely scenario), it would mean that Populus are very much slotting in at the Yes-friendly end of the spectrum, and would replicate the last Panelbase poll which also put Yes at 46%.
3) Is the fieldwork bang up to date? If so, it might be another straw in the wind suggesting that the impact of the European elections was positive for Yes (although we can't possibly know that for sure until one of the more regular pollsters put in another appearance).
As long as there was no funny business with this poll, and assuming it is a genuine referendum poll (ie. not a proxy question that actually asks about something slightly different, or a hypothetical question about how people would vote in certain circumstances), then I'll be adding it to the Poll of Polls, because Populus are members of the British Polling Council. However, I won't be able to do it until we get the headline numbers in the morning.
UPDATE : Alas, it appears this was merely the results from the Scottish subsample of a GB-wide poll - the one obvious possibility I didn't consider. Looks like a false alarm, although it'll still be interesting to see what the sample size in Scotland was, what the exact question was, and whether the fieldwork was online or conducted by telephone.
UPDATE 2 : It's just been pointed out to me that the GB-wide sample for the poll is an unusually high 6000, which means that the Scottish sample is likely to be big enough to be statistically credible - as long as it was properly weighted. We'll probably have to wait a while to find out whether it was. Sorry for the confusion, but this is as clear as mud at the moment!
UPDATE 3 : The No camp's embarrassment of a campaign chief Blair McDougall is doing his customary trolling routine on Twitter -
"Interesting to see which populus poll the SNP talking about. The one I've seen doesn't actually ask voting intention."
Which is highly likely in a GB-wide poll, because English and Welsh respondents can hardly be asked for their voting intention. However, it's perfectly clear from the report in the Financial Times that some kind of question approximating to yes/no for independence (or for "staying in the union") was asked, which means that it's a hell of a lot closer to being a voting intention poll than the absurd poll about youth finances a week or two back (which may even have been conducted via Survey Monkey!) which McDougall was happy to claim indicated opposition to independence.
It looks like I won't be able to add this poll to the Poll of Polls, but if by any chance it turns out to be a weighted sample of about 500 people in Scotland, it's still a pretty significant result.