Tuesday, November 6, 2018

That Survation poll: a brief autopsy

In the end there was very little point in fleshing out last night's blogpost about the Survation mega-poll, because a lot of what had been reported about it on social media (and even in one or two newspaper articles) turned out to be fictional.  There was no direct independence question in the poll at all - the reported numbers of Yes 51.4%, No 48.6% were a silly confection, justified with logic of the "two plus two equals twenty-two" variety.  The irony is that we've seen in recent weeks that if you ask poll respondents how they would vote in an independence referendum if they assume that a hard Brexit is going ahead, you get a Yes vote in the low 50s anyway.  So I'm not entirely sure what the point of inventing fantasy results was.

The Westminster voting intention numbers that were mentioned on Twitter also turn out not to be what they first appeared - according to Survation, they are from a Scottish subsample that was not separately weighted.  So the apparent significant uptick in SNP support since the last full-scale Scottish poll from Survation cannot be regarded as meaningful.  The next proper poll may well show a boost of that sort, but we'll just have to wait and see.

The one and only piece of Scottish data in the poll that did turn out to be authentic is that 38% of respondents say that Brexit would make them more likely to support independence, and only 25% say that it would make them less likely to support independence.  And that, I would suggest, is plenty enough to be getting on with for now.

As far as the UK-wide figures from the poll are concerned, I have to say the People's Vote brigade are getting a bit carried away.  They've been pointing to maps showing there has been a swing to Remain almost everywhere, and saying it's "astonishing" and "extraordinary".  Hmmm.  Up to a point, Lord Copper.  If Survation are right, there has been a 6% swing from Leave to Remain since the 2016 referendum, which is not insignificant, but the Leave vote has scarcely fallen through the floor.  A mere 4% swing back in the opposite direction would see Leave draw level - and that sort of shift can happen in the blink of an eye in the heat of a referendum campaign.  And it's scarcely unprecedented in British politics for a national swing to be replicated to varying degrees in most localities (even assuming that localised figures from the poll based on very small subsamples can be regarded as remotely reliable).

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Unionist chuntering heard all the way from Chichester after chipper Channel 4 poll gives massive boost to independence

I've been out enjoying Bonfire Night, so I wasn't watching Channel 4's big Brexit show, and I'm trying to make sense of the Scottish figures from their Survation mega-poll, based on the limited information available on Twitter.  Supposedly there are independence figures showing...

Yes 51.4%
No 48.6%

...but I have a sneaking suspicion that'll turn out to be a non-standard question asking respondents to take Brexit into account.  If so, that wouldn't be out of line with similar polls we've seen in recent months, although I certainly wouldn't diminish the significance of it in any way.

I've managed to track down the exact wording of another question in the poll...

From what you have seen and heard so far do you think that Brexit makes it more or less likely that you would vote to support an independent Scotland?

More likely: 38%
Less likely: 25%
Neither more nor less likely: 31%

Which bolsters the impression that Brexit has the potential to secure the small net swing that would be required to produce a Yes majority.

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UPDATE: It has been suggested to me by several people that the 51.4% and 48.6% figures are not from a specific poll question at all, but are just extrapolations of what would happen if you adjusted the 2014 referendum result on the assumption that No voters who say Brexit makes them "more likely" to support independence have in fact switched to Yes, and vice versa.  If so, what we're being treated to this evening is the most ludicrous misreporting of a poll that you could ever wish to see.  I can only admire the impudence of whoever came up with the idea.

There are Westminster voting intention figures being quoted from the poll as well, but I think I'll wait to see whether those turn out to be genuine.  On the face of it they show a boost for the SNP.

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New podcast

Just a quick note to let you know that myself and Peter A Bell are the guests on this week's edition of the Through a Scottish Prism podcast. Topics under discussion are the Budget, the prospects for a Brexit deal, the "anti-semitism" row concerning the Grouse Beater blog, and the timing of the second independence referendum. You can listen to the podcast HERE.