Saturday, October 10, 2020

New poll from Savanta ComRes is EIGHTH in a row to report a clear pro-independence majority

Thanks to Marcia for alerting me to the fact that there appears to be a new independence poll out tonight, from Savanta ComRes.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 53% (-1)
No 47% (+1)

If those figures are confirmed, it's a disaster for unionism.  Clearly the anti-independence parties felt that a fightback was on, and that a combination of Margaret Ferrier, the Alex Salmond inquiry, a new Scottish Tory leader, and constant chipping away at Nicola Sturgeon's decisions on coronavirus, would have turned things around.  Instead there has been no statistically significant change in a seemingly bang-up-to-date poll, and Yes still have a very handy lead.  This is now the eighth poll in succession to report a pro-indy majority.  If this is where we are after a relatively torrid spell, we can probably afford to be optimistic about what polling will show when unionism is once again on the back foot - as it surely will be as the end of the Brexit transition period approaches.

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intention:

SNP 50% (-1) 
Conservatives 23% (-1) 
Labour 18% (+1) 
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c) 

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intention:

SNP 41% (-2) 
Conservatives 21% (n/c) 
Labour 18% (+2) 
Greens 11% (+1) 
Liberal Democrats 7% (-1)

Seats projection (with changes from 2016): SNP 65 (+2), Conservatives 25 (-6), Labour 21 (-3), Greens 11 (+5), Liberal Democrats 7 (+2)

So an SNP overall majority, but only just.  This again illustrates the folly of wasting list votes on fringe parties.  I know a pro-independence majority should be all that matters, but in practice the UK government would be bound to use the SNP falling short as an excuse not to recognise the mandate for a referendum.  That said, it may well be that the ComRes methodology is underestimating the SNP on the list - unless there's been a change since the firm's last poll, respondents are asked a question that may lead to the false impression that the list vote is a second preference vote.

Labour will be bitterly disappointed to still be firmly in third place after a Survation poll last month putting them in second place for Westminster voting intentions, and joint second in the Holyrood list vote.

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NEW CROWDFUNDER: Earlier today I launched a fundraiser for the next Scot Goes Pop poll on independence, which I intend to commission at some point between now and Christmas.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

CROWDFUNDER: A third Scot Goes Pop poll on independence as No Deal looms

Click here to go straight to the fundraising page. 

Hi, I'm James Kelly, and I write the pro-independence blog Scot Goes Pop, which has a particular emphasis on opinion poll analysis. Earlier this year I crowdfunded two exclusive Panelbase polls on independence, and although they both showed exactly the same result (Yes 52%, No 48%), they were both landmarks in their own ways. The poll in January showed Yes at the highest level of support since the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum in 2016, suggesting that the general election result had been a gamechanger. And the poll in June was the first to show that, entirely against the initial expectations, the events of the pandemic had pushed Yes back into the lead after a slight dip. It turned out to be the first in an unprecedented string of seven polls showing a pro-indy majority. 

With your help, I'd like to commission a third poll before the year is out. Once again, we're in a new environment, and public opinion may have moved on as a result. The Internal Market Bill has trashed both international law and the devolution settlement that was so overwhelmingly endorsed by the Scottish public in the 1997 referendum. A No Deal Brexit appears to be moving closer. On the other hand, there have also been recent high-profile events that may have worked against the Yes side. So there are no guarantees of what a poll will show, but I firmly believe that polls on independence are good things in themselves. At this stage our opponents would dearly love the issue to be forgotten about, which perhaps explains why around half of the indy polls this year have been commissioned by Yes-supporting alternative media clients. If we weren't doing the job ourselves, it's almost true to say that it wouldn't be done at all. The mainstream media have all but given up on indy polling. 

To be clear about what you'll get for your donations: if the target is reached (or close), I'll commission a poll from a firm affiliated to the British Polling Council at some point between now and Christmas. It will ask the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?", a party political voting intention question, and a number of supplementary questions of interest to the Yes movement. Bear in mind, as always, that there's no way of knowing whether there'll be a Yes lead or a No lead. It's always a bit of a gamble, but with the right result and the right timing, the impact can be considerable. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

I'm the world's least enthusiastic Joe Biden voter

So I've just voted by post in the American presidential election - or I should really say attempted to vote, because I discovered that my vote for the congressional primary a couple of months ago arrived late, presumably due to delays caused by coronavirus.  However, there's still the best part of a month for this one to get there, so fingers crossed.

In the end, I gave in to the inevitability of voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, although I don't think I've ever cast such an important vote with so little enthusiasm.  I wouldn't quite say that Biden was my last choice among the Democratic primary candidates (utterly impossible for as long as the insufferable Pete Buttigieg was there), but I always thought he was unsuitable, and his failure to pick a progressive as his running mate was the final straw.  The return to a Clintonesque centre-right Democratic ascendancy is a pretty dismal prospect, and it could last twelve years - assuming that Biden has already succeeded in stitching up the 2024 nomination for Harris.

When I look at the polls showing Biden miles ahead of Trump, my heart doesn't exactly leap in the way it ought to - in fact, in a 'gut' sense I can't totally convince myself that I even want Biden to win.  My main concern when Trump took office was that he might literally bring about the end of human civilisation by losing his rag and starting a nuclear war, but after four years I've begun to realise that he wouldn't do anything that might lead to the destruction of Trump Tower or his golf courses.  And there are actually distinct upsides to the US having a rogue leader, because it's led to a long-overdue draining away of American soft power.  However, from a rational point of view I know that considerations of that sort are vastly outweighed by the exacerbation of the climate emergency that four more years of Trump could bring about, and indeed by the damage that might be done by more lifetime conservative appointments to the Supreme Court.

I've always had a personal rule of trying not to vote for supporters of the death penalty if I could help it, which meant voting for fringe candidates in some presidential elections.  But I really wanted to vote for Trump's main opponent in 2016, and I decided that Hillary Clinton had made that just about possible by indicating that she would be happy enough if the Supreme Court eradicated capital punishment.  I assumed that Biden would present a major problem for me, because I knew he was a long-standing supporter of the death penalty, but it turns out he did a casual U-turn on the subject last year to court progressive voters in the primaries.  Which in a way is great, and it's enabled me to vote for him, but it also demonstrates that he's what Tony Benn would have called a "weathercock", rather than a "signpost".  Ideally we'd want a signpost as the leader of the free world.

Incidentally, it might amuse you to know that there were 21 candidates on the ballot paper (about twice as many as I can ever remember in the past) - Biden was listed first, and Trump was twentieth!

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No consensus emerged on the timing of the next Scot Goes Pop poll - some people said go ahead now, some said wait until Christmas, and some said do both (or even one in December and one in January).  I'm thinking what I might do is run the crowdfunder now, and then make a decision about dates if the target is reached - although it would definitely be some time over the next two months or so.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Your thoughts on the possible timing of the third Scot Goes Pop poll

As I've mentioned a few times, I think it would be a good idea to crowdfund a third poll on independence at some point in this calendar year, which obviously means within the next three months.  So now would be a good moment to hear your thoughts on the exact timing.  The argument for doing it now is that it could explore attitudes to the assault on devolution and international law contained in the Internal Market Bill.  Unfortunately the mainstream media has utterly failed in its duty to keep the public informed (at least on the devolution aspects), so the issue may not have cut through - but even if it hasn't, a poll could in itself help to raise awareness.  The other way of looking at it is that the Margaret Ferrier episode, and perhaps aspects of the Alex Salmond inquiry, may have undermined support for the SNP and independence, in which case an early poll could backfire.  (Although if Yes support has held up, we could say "nothing that is chucked at us is making any difference".)

Another possibility would be an end-of-year poll, maybe published just before Christmas.  Let me know what you think.