Friday, August 21, 2020

Unionist propaganda poll throws up a blatant contradiction

As you may have seen, there was a unionist propaganda poll yesterday, commissioned by the "Scottish Fabians", in an attempt to deflect attention from the consistently large pro-independence majority.  It amusingly produced two completely contradictory results.  On one question it purported to show that, by a 52-36 majority, respondents think independence is a "distraction" from more important issues.  But on another question it showed that by a vast margin of 63-9, respondents would be unlikely to vote for a party that disagreed with their own view on independence.  Why would people who don't regard independence as important be so unwilling to cross-vote on the issue?  Exactly.  People do regard it as hugely important, and it's probably the number one driver of people's party political preferences at the moment.

Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of those who said that independence is a "distraction" are No voters.  Down the ages, "this is boring", "this is a distraction" has always been a convenient mask for those who are opposed to radical change - what it really means is "we desperately don't want this to happen".  If you were to say to them that we should become independent tomorrow so that we can put an end to the "distraction" and the "boredom" once and for all, you'd suddenly find that nothing matters to them more than resisting that.

As for the minority of independence supporters who agreed on the "distraction" point, I suspect some of them would have been virtue-signallers.  Many people feel that they 'ought' to say that health and education are more important than the constitution (the problem with that being, of course, that independence is essential for protecting the NHS in particular).  In fairness, it was a clever wheeze on the Fabians' part to devise a question that could artificially cobble together a majority by combining hardline unionists and Yes virtue-signallers, but as the other question demonstrates it really is pretty meaningless.

Chris McCall of the Record played along with the little stunt by breathlessly describing the poll as "another independence poll".  Well, no.  Another independence poll would have asked the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?"  And we can all hazard a confident guess of what the result of that would have been, and why the Fabians very carefully didn't ask it.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Some thoughts on the methodology of the ComRes poll

As I mentioned yesterday, the ComRes poll showed the SNP doing a little less well on Holyrood voting intentions than in recent polls from Panelbase and YouGov - albeit still well enough for the seats projection to give them an overall single-party majority.  I wondered if there might be a methodological reason for the difference, and now that the datasets have been released a few possibilities leap out.  

First of all, unlike Panelbase, ComRes have weighted by 2016 Holyrood vote recall, rather than 2019 Westminster vote recall.  That's not necessarily illogical in a poll of Holyrood voting intentions, but if you're asking people to cast their minds back four-and-a-half years, when they've voted in no fewer than two general elections since then, there may be a potential for faulty recollection.

Secondly, although there's no suggestion in the explanatory note that the results are weighted by 2014 indyref vote recall, there is, for whatever reason, a sharp divergence between the unweighted and weighted numbers on that point.  After weighting, the 429 respondents who recalled voting Yes in 2014 ended up counting as only 330 people.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the phrasing of the question asking for voting intentions on the list is strikingly similar to Survation's, in that it describes the list vote as a "second" vote.  We know from Survation polls that this tends to produce worse results for the SNP on the list, and better results for the Greens - probably because some respondents wrongly gain the impression they're being asked about a second preference vote.

More about the record-breaking 55% support for independence

Just a quick note to let you know I have a piece in The National with more analysis of the Yes vote hitting 55% with Panelbase - you can read it HERE.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Unionists in utter disarray as second poll of the day shows a sizeable pro-independence majority

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Savanta ComRes)

Yes 54%
No 46%

I haven't listed any percentage changes this time, because as far as I can see this is the very first ComRes poll on independence since 2014.  Indeed, I'm not totally sure that they've ever done an independence poll before.  I do recall that the abomination that is "ITV Border" commissioned them during the indyref to poll voting intentions in "the South of Scotland", basically meaning Dumfries & Galloway and the Borders only - approximately 5% of the Scottish population.  That produced predictable results.  But off the top of my head I can't think of any full-scale ComRes indyref poll, and there's no sign of one on the Wikipedia list.

This is a particularly useful poll because it broadens the number of polling firms that have recently tested support on independence and found similar results.  The Brit Nat denial on social media in recent months has been rather comical, and one of the most common refrains has been that Yes only appear to be ahead because pro-indy clients have been "spamming Panelbase".  (Apparently our friends are unaware that Panelbase adhere strictly to British Polling Council rules, and that the identity of the client makes literally no difference to the results they report on the headline voting intention question.)  Well, there have now been three firms (Panelbase, YouGov and ComRes) that have shown a Yes vote of 53% or higher over the course of the summer, and four firms (Panelbase, YouGov, ComRes and Survation) that have shown a Yes vote of 50% or higher over the course of the year.

It also now looks nigh-on inevitable that we'll reach the end of 2020 with Yes ahead on the yearly polling average.  From January until now, the average stands at Yes 51.9%, No 48.1%.  That includes one YouGov poll from February that used a non-standard (albeit non-leading) question - if that's taken out, the figures are Yes 52.2%, No 47.8%.  And perhaps more to the point, over the summer (ie. from early June until now), the average is Yes 53.7%, No 46.3%.

The ComRes poll has Holyrood voting intention numbers as well...

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions:

SNP 51%
Conservatives 24%
Labour 17%
Liberal Democrats 6%

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions:

SNP 43%
Conservatives 21%
Labour 16%
Greens 10%
Liberal Democrats 8%

Again, there are no percentage changes listed, because there's no previous ComRes poll to compare the results to.  The SNP aren't doing quite as well as in recent Panelbase and YouGov polls (that's probably due to methodology), but it's still enough for them to be on course for a small overall single-party majority - the seats projection is SNP 66 (+3), Conservatives 26 (-5), Labour 19 (-5), Greens 10 (+4), Liberal Democrats 8 (+3).  And that translates into an extremely comfortable 76-53 pro-independence majority.

Independence is backed by unprecedented 55-45 margin in new Panelbase poll - and that's "decisive", if every BBC report in 2014 is to be believed

As I pointed out last week, the 53% Yes vote in the YouGov poll couldn't be directly compared with the 54% in the two most recent Panelbase polls, because each firm has its own methods. And the thought did cross my mind that the 57% SNP vote found by YouGov - higher than any other firm has reported since the 2016 election - might be a clue that things have actually improved further, rather than stayed steady or gone slightly backwards. Today's latest Panelbase poll for Business for Scotland, showing Yes reaching a new high watermark, might well support that theory.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 55% (+1)
No 45% (-1)

"Decisive margin" said every BBC report in 2014.  (There was such consistent usage of the word "decisive" by the BBC in 2014 that obviously an edict had gone out from on high.)  "The settled will of the Scottish people" said David Cameron in 2014.  It's happened, folks: Yes now lead by exactly the same margin that No won the 2014 indyref by - and judging from the British establishment's own past words, they should be regarding this development as game over.

To put it in perspective, before this calendar year, only a small handful of Panelbase polls had ever shown a Yes lead, and no Panelbase poll had ever shown a Yes vote higher than 52%.  The last three have now shown Yes on either 54% or 55%.  By any standards, the evidence of a major breakthrough is overwhelming.  Of course the further 1% increase since the last poll is well within the margin of error - if Yes was holding steady at around 54%, you'd expect some polls to show the figure at 53% or 55% (or indeed 52% or 56%), so we'll have to wait for more information before concluding that the upward trend is continuing.  But that should certainly be regarded as a real possibility.

Monday, August 17, 2020

A few miscellaneous points

First of all, congratulations to the poster 'Unknown' who has stolen away Tam the Bam's title of Scot Goes Pop Precious Union Contemplation Diviner after just one day.  He/she correctly spotted that I was contemplating the value of Our Precious Union at the Ness of Duncansby, midway between John O'Groats and Duncansby Head lighthouse.  That's the first time I've been up that way since the age of 10, and one thing that surprised me is that you don't really get the same sense of being at the 'end of the world' that you do in a place like Cape St Vincent in Portugal, because there's land immediately beyond John O'Groats in the form of Stroma, and there's also land not far beyond Stroma which I presume must be Orkney.

Just as I did when I was 10, I went on to walk the coastal path to see the Duncansby Stacks.  I thought it might not be as impressive as I remembered from childhood, but quite the reverse.  Why that walk isn't better known, better advertised, better signposted is beyond me.  You often hear of people going to John O'Groats and being underwhelmed by what they find there, but most of them are probably oblivious to the fact that Scotland's equivalent of the Cliffs of Moher is just a stone's throw away.

Anyway, as you'll have gathered from the last few posts, I've been away for a little while, and one consequence of that is there's been a backlog of emails I haven't got round to responding to.  A couple of people asked about the possibility of making recurring (monthly or quarterly) donations to help support the blog.  I don't have any facility set up for that, but the good thing about the GoFundMe crowdfunders is that they remain open for donations indefinitely, so if you have a sudden random urge to make a contribution you can do so at any time HERE.  However, bear in mind that I'll probably run a proper 2020 fundraiser at some point over the coming months.  (I know I've run two crowdfunders this year, but those were specifically to pay for our exclusive opinion polls.)

There was also a well-meaning email trying to organise a reconciliation between myself and Stuart Campbell, on the basis that we're all on the same side and we need to be pulling together.  What I would say to that is there wouldn't have been any dispute in the first place if we really felt that we're still on the same side.  Stuart's attitude to independence seems much more ambivalent now - it might be useful to ask him whether he'd still want independence if, for example, it meant not getting his way on self-ID and other related issues.  He'd probably evade the question by saying the cause of independence is doomed anyway unless the SNP drop self-ID - but I suspect if he was being honest, his answer would be "no".  (And, by the same token, there are now prominent figures in the SNP who regard their support for self-ID as far more important than independence - it's a really unfortunate situation on both sides.) 

Stuart also has an unrealistically hostile attitude to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, which can only be harmful in the long run.  And yes, I know the SNP is not the independence movement, but that's really not the point.  Look at it this way - even if a credible new pro-indy party is set up, and even if it's successful (two very big "ifs"), the most it will be able to do is gain leverage over the SNP by holding the balance of power at Holyrood.  That will still leave the SNP as by far the predominant pro-indy party, which means that whoever is SNP leader will effectively lead the Yes campaign in any referendum that occurs over the next couple of years - and that probably means Nicola Sturgeon, unless she voluntarily opts to stand aside.  If we get to that point, Wings will self-evidently be damaging the cause unless he at least massively tones down his antipathy towards the First Minister.  Is he capable of doing that, or has it all gone too far?  Again, he would probably argue that it's not a valid question because there isn't going to be a referendum if Nicola Sturgeon remains leader.  But that kind of black-and-white thinking is somewhat divorced from the nuances and complexities of the real world.

*  *  *

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Our Precious Second Readers' Contest

Congratulations to Tam the Bam, who I can officially crown Scot Goes Pop Precious Union Contemplation Diviner after he was the first to correctly state that I was contemplating the value of Our Precious Union at the Corran ferry.  (Stravaiger later came in with more detail, but I think in fairness Tam was specific enough, and he was first.)

But can YOU steal Tam's crown straight away?  This one is from a few days ago - where was I channelling Matt Hancock?  It's in Scotland, obviously. People only ever contemplate the value of Our Precious Union in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.  In England they just get on with being English or Johnny Foreigner.

Our Precious Readers' Contest

A quick readers' contest (and I may have one or two more of these): where was I contemplating the value of Our Precious Union last night?  There's no tangible prize, but the winner takes the coveted title of Scot Goes Pop Precious Union Contemplation Diviner.

21% of the electorate is more than enough to win seats in a proportional system

Just to deal briefly with the Herald piece from the other day suggesting that Alex Salmond's hopes of regaining control of the SNP were "forlorn" in the wake of a poll showing that 21% of respondents have a favourable view of him, and 63% have an unfavourable view.  There are two obvious points: firstly, I'm not aware of any suggestion that Alex Salmond actually wants to become SNP leader again, so as far as any leadership change is concerned, he'd be more interested in the personal ratings of whoever the alternative leader might be.  Secondly, there's also the option of a new Salmond-led party, and under a proportional representation system 21% approval is plenty enough to win seats, as long as enough of those people are enthusiastic enough.  I haven't changed my view that a Salmond party would probably gain some representation in Holyrood.