Thursday, September 25, 2014

Whichever exit poll you look at, the message is the same - under-55s voted Yes

I've been asked by a number of people to have a look at the YouGov exit poll, in the light of the Herald's provocatively-worded claim that it shows "the elderly did not rob the young of an independent Scotland".  In fact, it shows no such thing, and instead bears out Alex Salmond's claim that under-55s voted Yes.  It's not possible to make a direct comparison with the Ashcroft exit poll, because YouGov use different age categories, but here is the nearest comparison possible -

How under-55s voted, according to the Ashcroft exit poll :

Yes 54%
No 46%

How under-60s voted, according to the YouGov exit poll :

Yes 50%
No 50%

So in order to believe that Yes did not also enjoy a lead among under-55s in the YouGov poll, you'd have to argue that 55-59 year olds broke for Yes, which seems highly improbable.

Of course the two polls show very different pictures in individual age groups, but you'd expect that due to normal sampling variation.  By extension that means we'll never be 100% certain that under-55s voted Yes, but whether the Herald (and the increasingly deranged Huffington Post) like it or not, the limited evidence we have suggests that they probably did.

What that means in practical terms is harder to say.  We've had a couple of No supporters on this blog comforting themselves with the mantra that people become more conservative as they get older, and that the Yes-voting under-55 of today is the No-voting over-55 of tomorrow.  The snag is that there's no real evidence that the No-leaning tendencies of older people are driven by conservatism - the real culprits seem to be the groundless fears over pensions, and national identity (older people are more likely to have a lingering attachment to Britishness).  There may be some evidence that advancing age makes people more conservative, but I know of no evidence that it makes them feel less Scottish.


  1. Media consumption is the biggest driver. Old people don't use social media. They trust the traditional media, the newspapers and the BBC.

  2. Hi Anonymous, I think that older people will shortly be disabused of their trust in the MSM but whether that will be in time for the GE is another matter.

  3. People in their 40s and even 50s regularly use Social Media today, the idea that as they age they will mirror the current older generation is not based on particularly solid foundations. The internet has been pervasive for 15 years now, it is a mature platform.

    This generaiton moving in to replace the reduction in 65+s will also lack decent pensions having missed out on the gilt-edged guarantees the Boomers had and will be less vulnerable to the main threat of the unionist campaigns.

    Remember that the swing required is only 200k. That may well be easily achievable in a time scale of just 5 years.

  4. Over 55s you are talking about someone born before 1960.
    Over 65s you are talking about someone born before 1950.

    When do you reckon that most people form their political opinions?

    I would suspect that is the period from 18 to 23 so the majority of both these groups formed both these groups before Thatcher. How did Scotland vote in those days?

    The problem is that the world has changed and political parties have changed, but most people do not easily change their voting habits.

    I don't think enough will have changed unless we can get through to these elderly that the political parties of their youth are long gone.

    1. I'm 52 and have supported indepence since 1979, when I didnt have a vote. Im not about to change my mind suddenly when I retire. Anyone who thinks that is in cloud cookoo land.

  5. Many of those in the older age group (I'm almost 60) than me, were also among those who saw National Service, and this could be a factor too.

  6. These discussions can only be good for the people. I believe that when the public have debated the biased media coverage which took place they will awaken to the real threat which looms over us all. The 3rd Gulf War is about to start if there is anyone out there who believes this can be solved without boots on the ground they are not aware of history.

  7. Many of those in the older age group (I'm almost 60) than me, were also among those who saw National Service, and this could be a factor too.

    And there's still a substantial number who grew up in WW2. This as much as social media is a very strong reason to believe that the intransigent attitude against Independence will not be sustained in the older age groups.

    No pensions, no WW2, no National Services, no real idea of Britishness, no memories of Empire, no absence of social media.

  8. The colossal political earthquake rumbles on.

    Yes Monifieth ‏@YesMonifieth 1h

    Wow Scottish Green membership up 375% in a week #the45plus

    Peter Murrell ‏@PeterMurrell 1h

    It's now 37,228 new @theSNP members. Total 62,870. Join in:


  9. You know, when the campaign started the majority of our activists were over sixty. The younger people appeared later.

  10. how come everyone who voted no in 1979 hasnt died off to be replaced by yessers then?

    I think its the yessers looking for comfort here, no supporters don't need any. We won.

  11. Saynotoyesmen : Because in 1979, the vote was on an incredibly timid form of devolution. Last week 45% of the electorate voted for full sovereign independence. If you can't spot the sea-change, you should have gone to Specsavers.

    By the way, isn't it time you changed your name, or do you still hate 45% of your fellow countrymen and women even though the vote is over?

  12. In 1979, the Scottish public was split 52/48 (on a low-ish turnout) on whether there should be a weak form of devolution.

    In 1997, support for a mild form of devolution was 74/26. With support for very limited economic powers running quite a bit lower, at 64/36.

    Now, support for independence is at 45/55. According to John Curtice, support for more powers (above and beyond those already implemented) is over 80%.

    Only someone in complete denial could not see this movement in opinion. Peter Oborne in the Torygraph gets it today: WM has to implement some sort of federalism on a non-partisan basis, or the 2014 referendum will be a staging post in the demise of the union, rather than its salvation.

    Vernon Bogdanor, writing in the Guardian, makes a similar point: if the Tories act politically, they will encourage further separation.

  13. @Saynotoyesmen

    You didn't 'win'.

    We all lost...some of us just don't realise this yet.

  14. I am over 60, and I know nothing about social media. I think it refers to facebook and twitter, but I am not sure what they are. I have heard that they are for youngsters to keep in touch with friends. I am also gey swiert to put personal information on a public channel.

    I got all the information I needed to vote Yes from the net, specifically from blogs such as WOS, WGD and this one. I suppose I must be a sort of intermediate generation between those who rely entirely on the MSM and the social media users.

    As has been pointed out, the older generation will pass on, but I think their replacements will be very different.

    My wife tells me that Marks and Spencer ended up in the sticky, smelly stuff because they expected women to switch to boring old ladies' clothes when they reach a certain age. She says that modern women in their 50s are no longer doing this. Unlike their mothers and grannies, they are demanding stylish clothes, and M&S was not supplying them, so they voted with their money.

    The media, especially the BBC (and the scumbag Labour Party) have emerged from the referendum with their reputations trashed among the majority of the under 55s. They are living on borrowed time.

    Except for the Sunday Herald, of course - the only paper I will ever buy again. I have not switched on the BBC since 17/9.

    P.S. I have started wearing a saltire badge on my jacket. Just a reminder that Scotland hasn't died.

  15. It depends how you break down the age groups. In the YouGov poll, 25-39 were clearly YES; 40-59 and 60-64 were NO in the same proportion as the electorate as a whole; 65+ heavily NO; under 25 broadly even - although that result is particularly open to doubt due to a very high upweighting. So it's not simply a question of getting more YES as you get younger. The YES dominant ageband seems narrow.

    All this is up for grabs if there's another referendum, of course. If we find it difficult enough to work out what people think for a result that has already happened,it's impossible to predict how the public will collectively think in ten or twenty years' time.

  16. FF : It's not a good idea to look at the YouGov poll on its own. Gerry Hassan made the opposite mistake in his Scottish Review piece by looking at the Ashcroft poll alone, leading him to make definite statements on how different age groups voted, even though in the case of 16 and 17 year olds that was based on a subsample of just fourteen people!

    Age group subsamples will have wide margins of error, so to get the truest picture possible it's important to look at all the information available, which in this case consists of two polls. YouGov and Ashcroft agree that 25-35 year olds voted Yes, there is disagreement about under-25s and 35-55 year olds, but in both cases the middle position between the two polls would be a roughly 50/50 split.

  17. I agree there's an age-related thing going on. The question is whether voters are more likely to become NO as they get older, or whether YESness spreads as the older generation dies out. The evidence, to the extent I can interpret it, suggests both those things are happening.

    I also suspect there are age-related cohorts of supporters. Independence comes in and out of fashion. The age group that was young at a point when independence was fashionable will retain support for independence in higher numbers, even though a proportion will drift to NO as they get older.

    Another data source:

  18. Yes, that sounds reasonable enough. In any case, neither camp owns their voters - who knows, if Westminster gives a raw deal to pensioners over the next few years, the biggest swing demographic in favour of independence could be the one we're currently talking about as if they were unpersuadable.

  19. If you look at the on the doorstep when talking to no voting pensioners, it was a hell of a lot of work to show them that they were being lied to.

    They trust the british state too much. Maybe it's why Yes didn't really bother with them too much, we were on course to win remember.

    This all boils down to how people access information, the bbc is a declining resource, to coin a phrase.

  20. Well, this 58 yr old (going on 59) has been voting YES since 1979, and I'm not about to change now.

    If anything, I'm more determined than ever to continue to push for independence, as I've always believed that it's the right thing to do and is in the best interests of Scotland.

  21. I think the haves voted NO and the havenots voted YES. Voters thought about what they might lose rather than what they might gain from independence. That includes the pensioners, who if the rumour is correct were told that they would lose their pensions if they voted yes. In some cases, that someone would be round to collect their pension books after September 18th!

  22. "This all boils down to how people access information, the bbc is a declining resource, to coin a phrase. "


    Very 'helpful' of the BBC to go straight back into full propaganda mode for the westminster government to cheer on attacking Iraq, yet again.

    They are going to regret that enormously soon enough. They and those who do not understand the nature of the civil wars raging in Iraq and Syria will soon be disabused of their quaint notions of a cost free easy and quick 'solution' to middle east violence through air attacks and missiles.

    The evidence for bombing civil wars into peace is not good, to say the least.