Saturday, February 1, 2020

Scot Goes Pop poll update

Just another quick update for the people who contributed to the crowdfunder for this blog's forthcoming poll on independence.  The fieldwork has now been completed, and I've been given a tentative indication of the likely result on the main question.  But I'm not going to drop any hints at all, because it's provisional and may change.  I should have the full results by Monday at the latest, and then I'll probably drip-feed them to you over a few days.

Meanwhile, I have an article in today's edition of The National expressing my scepticism about the ultra-cautious approach set out by Nicola Sturgeon yesterday.  You can read it HERE.

Friday, January 31, 2020

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but a major strategic error has just been made

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I have more analysis of yesterday's sensational YouGov poll in an article at The National - you can read it HERE.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Drama as YouGov poll shows a pro-independence majority

The first post-election poll on independence has been published, and it suggests that the long-anticipated (but highly elusive) swing to Yes by Remainers who voted No in 2014 may have finally taken place on a really telling scale.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (YouGov, 22nd-27th January 2020):

Yes 51% (+7)
No 49% (-7)

Bear in mind that YouGov have in recent years been one of the most No-friendly firms, so it shouldn't be assumed that 51% is as good as it's going to get for Yes - it's conceivable that other firms will show something a little better, but we'll have to wait and see.  On the other hand, the 7% swing to Yes may be a touch exaggerated, because the previous YouGov poll looks very much like an outlier in retrospect - it showed a sharp dip in the Yes vote that wasn't picked up by other pollsters.  But it seems highly probable that YouGov's new numbers are reflecting some sort of genuine swing on the ground - 49% was the highest Yes vote they reported last year, and they haven't shown an outright Yes lead since 2015.

An intriguing supplementary question attempts to measure the depth of both support for and opposition to independence, and finds that absolutely definite Yes and No voters are tied on 35% apiece.  For my money that's a highly encouraging finding, because there's always a danger that a sudden swing might be based on rather shaky foundations.  That doesn't appear to be the case here - there's no longer any underlying 'natural majority' for No.

The unionist parties will of course ignore the headline result on independence and point to the finding that a majority are opposed to holding an independence referendum this year.  But the snag is that 44% are in favour of holding a referendum within the next five years (ie. within the next Holyrood parliamentary term) and only 39% are opposed.  With Don't Knows excluded, that's a pro-referendum majority of around 53% to 47%.  Given that the Tory government take the extremist and ludicrous line that no referendum can be held until after Nicola Sturgeon's death (which could potentially mean another fifty years of delay!), it's safe to say that the public are a lot, lot closer to the SNP's view on referendum timing than they are to the Tories' view.

Thoughtful Scottish Tory MSPs (if such a thing exists) will be deeply concerned that this poll shows they are about to make an error of historic proportions by confirming Jackson Carlaw as their official leader.  It looks like he can't be absolved of blame for the election disaster last month - he has a dismal net personal rating of -29, which is 29 points worse than Nicola Sturgeon's and almost as bad as Richard Leonard's.  (Yes, it's that bad.)

From a personal point of view, I breathed a sign of relief when I read through the list of questions that YouGov asked.  As you know, this blog will be publishing a poll in the very near future, and I was slightly concerned that there might be a significant amount of overlap between YouGov's questions and the ones that I asked.  But as it turns out, there's no real duplication at all, except on the independence question itself.  (Unless of course YouGov have a second batch of questions that they haven't released yet, but time will tell.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

First post-election YouGov subsample has the SNP at a heady 50% of the vote

The first post-election YouGov poll of GB-wide voting intentions has been published, which is significant for us because YouGov appear to be the only firm that structure and weight their Scottish subsamples separately.  The figures are therefore the first proper clue about what a full-scale Scottish poll will show - although they can only be a very vague clue, because the small sample size means there's a large margin of error.

SNP 50%, Conservatives 27%, Labour 13%, Liberal Democrats 6%, Greens 2%, Brexit Party 1%

If those figures turn out to be in the right ball-park (and that's still a big "if"), it would bear out my theory of the other day that both the SNP and the Scottish Tories will enjoy a post-election honeymoon, with the Tories deriving their boost from the election result south of the border, and with their extra support taken from other unionist parties.

And if full-scale polls show a similar increase in support for the SNP, there may be two distinct factors behind it.  One would be a genuine change in public opinion on the ground, but the other will be methodological changes that correct for the underestimation of the SNP in the run-up to the election.  YouGov have attached a methodological note explaining that 2017 past vote weighting has been replaced with 2019 past vote weighting, and that demographic weighting has been updated as well.

71% of the Scottish subsample think that Britain was wrong to leave the EU, and only 26% think Brexit is right.  That's a bigger majority than usual, which may indicate that the subsample is a bit too "Remainy", and that may in turn cast a little doubt on the voting intention numbers.  But at the same time it's encouraging, because the Yes movement desperately needs to ensure that the public don't "move on" from Brexit (whereas the British establishment, from Boris Johnson all the way through to the BBC and the Sun, will be trying to achieve the opposite effect and get us to accept Brexit as an unchangeable historical fact as soon as humanly possible).

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Mid-Galloway and Wigtown West by-election

No polls overnight as far as I can see, but I realised I had completely overlooked the first Scottish local by-election to be held since the general election.

Mid-Galloway and Wigtown West by-election:

Conservatives 61.8% (+22.3) 
SNP 25.5% (+1.9) 
Greens 6.4% (+4.2) 
Labour 6.3% (-0.6)

At first glance that looks like an absolutely terrifying result, but it makes much more sense once you realise that independent candidates took 28% of the vote in the ward last time around, and those votes had to go somewhere because there weren't any independents standing this time.  In Dumfries and Galloway, people who vote for independent candidates are often Tory voters in other circumstances, so that will account for most or all of the huge boost in the Tory vote.

A 2% increase in the SNP vote can at best be described as "OK", given that the change is measured from 2017, when the SNP were doing significantly less well than at last month's general election.  But perhaps they were hampered in this by-election by the modest success of the Greens.

The result is an indication that the Tory honeymoon effect isn't necessarily stopping at the border, and given the reach of the London media in Scotland, we shouldn't really have expected it to.  It may seem ironic in the wake of the Scottish Tories losing half their seats, but it's quite possible that the next Scottish poll will see an increase in the Tory vote - although if that does happen I would expect it to be largely at the expense of other unionist parties.