Monday, January 18, 2021

Exclusive Scot Goes Pop / Survation poll is the NINETEENTH IN A ROW to show a pro-independence majority

So as I mentioned a couple of times here and on Twitter, I ran into a slight hitch with the new Scot Goes Pop poll - I had initially been hoping to stick with Panelbase, who conducted all three of our polls last year, but for contractual reasons they weren't able to do it on the timescale I was hoping for. After mulling it over a bit, I decided to contact other firms in the hope of getting a quick result, and I ended up going with Survation - a pollster with a fantastic pedigree, most notably because they were pretty much the only firm to call the 2017 general election correctly. 

However, after the poll was commissioned, I started to become a bit nervous, for two reasons. Firstly, Survation were somewhat less favourable for Yes than Panelbase were last year, and their final poll of 2020 was particularly tight - with Don't Knows included it was practically a dead heat (Yes 44%, No 42%), which means that just the slightest of swings could have brought to an end the long sequence of eighteen Yes-majority polls in a row.  And a small drop is something that can very easily happen simply due to random sampling variation. Secondly, by unfortunate coincidence the fieldwork got underway just after the Alex Salmond / Nicola Sturgeon controversy broke. So I genuinely thought there was a risk of ending up with a narrow No lead or a 50 / 50 split. 

I'm thrilled to say that hasn't happened. Welcome to the nineteenth poll in a row that says Scotland wants to be an independent country. 

Should Scotland be an independent country? 

Yes 51% (-1) 
No 49% (+1)

(Survation poll for Scot Goes Pop, conducted 11th-13th January 2021.  Fieldwork was online, with 1020 respondents interviewed.  Before Don't Knows are excluded, the figures are Yes 45% (+1), No 43% (+1), Don't Know 12% (-2).)

In the overall scheme of things I'm not concerned about the narrowness of the result - the likelihood is that it's simply a case of different firms producing slightly different results due to methodological factors.  Panelbase, ComRes and Ipsos-Mori seem to be the Yes-friendly firms these days, with Survation and YouGov a touch more favourable for No.  But the bottom line is that all firms, whether Yes-friendly or No-friendly, are as of this moment united in saying that Yes are ahead.  And with a very recent Savanta ComRes poll putting Yes on a heady 57%, there's no reason to assume that the lead is necessarily a narrow one.  

As for the 1% drop in Yes support in today's poll, that's not statistically significant, so it's wrong to jump to the conclusion that the Salmond/Sturgeon episode has had an impact - the change may well just be meaningless margin of error "noise".  Indeed, with Don't Knows included there's no swing to No at all - a 2% Yes lead from December remains intact, and there's even been a 1% increase in the Yes vote.  However, I believe there are two more polls in the field at the moment, so when we have those we'll have a better idea of the trend.  My own guess is that public opinion has remained pretty static recently.

A few nuggets from the datasets:

* The traditional gender gap has been completely reversed.  There's a big Yes lead among women of 55% to 45%, while men break 53% to 47% for No.  I would imagine the Sturgeon factor has played a big part in turning the female vote around.

* The best age group for Yes is 25-34 year olds, who break in favour of independence by the astonishing margin of 78-22.  The anti-indy campaign had better hope the old adage about people becoming more conservative as they get older is true.  If it isn't, independence is virtually inevitable sooner or later.

* Survation provide a regional breakdown in their datasets, and unsurprisingly the most pro-indy region is Glasgow (59% to 41%).  Next best are the Highlands & Islands (56% to 44%).  The best region for No is, of course, the South, with figures of 43% Yes, 57% No.

* Here's a factor that may go a long way towards explaining why Survation are less favourable to Yes than Panelbase - they've found that only 24% of Labour voters are pro-Yes.  Panelbase typically find a much higher figure than that.

* 54% of Remain voters would back independence, along with a surprisingly healthy 38% of Leave voters.

There's a lot more to come from the poll - Holyrood voting intentions, Westminster voting intentions, and no fewer than seven supplementary questions, some with pretty sensational results.  (A lot of them are Brexit-themed, as you'd expect.) If you'd like to be the first to know, you can follow me on Twitter HERE.  


  1. #settledwill

    Two politicians falling out with each other really isn't up there with reasons why people would vote for/against independence.

    Apparent Scottish indy supporters condemning people as guilty without trial might put one or two folk off, if at least the former were a bit more convincing in pretending to support independence.

    Meanwhile, in London...

    'Brexit carnage: shellfish trucks protest in London over export delays

    Classic English Tory describing ruining people's business / livelihoods as mere 'teething problems'.

  2. Thanks for sharing.

    Genuine question:

    Obviously you will probably be pro independence forever. I just wonder in response to your point:

    As you get older, do you ‘accept’ more the arguments in favour of the Union? You’re clearly right about if the young generation don’t get more ‘conservative’ as they get older, independence is inevitable.

    Also, does this poll include 16 & 17 year olds?


  3. The anti-indy campaign had better hope the old adage about people becoming more conservative as they get older is true

    This isn't really true as studies have shown; peoples left/right/liberal/authoritarian attitudes tend to be very stable over time once formed.

    In Scotland, the higher no in elderly people is just because they tend to identify as more British; this identity peaks in the post war consensus baby boomer generation, specifically those born in 1945 based on the 2011 census. Those born either side of this are progressively more Scottish / less British, with the children of devolution overwhelming 'Scottish not British'.

    So in fact the very oldest in Scotland, if you could separate out e.g. the over 80s say, might in fact be stronger backers of indy than those closer to 65.

    Anyway, Britishness has died with the death of the empire and particularly, the destruction of the post war consensus. Similar forces have eaten away at Northern Irish unionism too; it use to be over 3/4 No but now the unionist parties don't win majorities any more and we are seeing polls backing reunification.

    1. Yes - it was the same with the Brexit result. Majority of 80+ voted against, but they were a kind of lost within this huge 65-75 boomer generation that voted for it (I'm talking about GB-wide result here)
      GB-wide the boomer generation also generally follow the Tories. Thatcher was winning with 18-24s and 24-30s when she won for the first time in the 1979 and lost with 65+.

    2. In England, the elderly are English and favour brexit.

      The British voted Remain in England.

      It's the opposite way around in Scotland; the Scots mainly voted Remain while the British voted leave.

      The Brits in Scotland are starting to wake up to this now, i.e. that their fellow brexiters in England are not British, but English nationalists, hence destroying Britishness (e.g. devolution), selling out Scots fisheries for a better deal for England etc.

  4. Essentially no change from Survation.

    Perhaps no surprise since it's only 4/5 weeks since the last survey from this firm ... and the effects of BREXIT haven't hit home yet.

    In addition their last 5 polls since the beginning of 2020 have a weighted average of just under 52% so this latest result is pretty much on the average over the last 12 months.

    However, all the publicity/controversy around fishing over the last few days (and especially today) might have an impact that is favourable to Yes going forward as people start to realise how badly this (primarily Scottish) sector has been shafted.

  5. James - any idea how Survation did in predicting the Brexit Ref result compared to the other main polling cos? I ask only because they were the best at predicting the GE and wonder how well they did in predicting a binary ref?

  6. Just took the poll you mentioned on here the other day, James. One question that you didn't mention stood out. It talked about how the SNP and Greens refer to Scotland going HOME to the EU (home was capitalised for no apparent reason), then asked whether in this context, Scotland's heritage was "Scottish/British in the English-speaking world", or "European".

    It seemed to me an awfully clumsy way to try and force an answer that Scotland isn't European.

    1. Most of the English speaking world doesn't want to be British and don't see their heritage as that, but as brutal colonial occupation.

    2. Given how long Scotland has held out, you could probably argue we're one of the few peoples globally that don't hate the English.

      Certainly if unionist are right and wanting independence from London rule means 'hating the English', then the English must be one of most hated peoples in the world, if not the most disliked of all. I think unionist are wrong on this, but it's what many argue.

  7. So what's the word on the Slab leadership? Monica Lennon seems so obviously the better choice that I wouldn't have thought the result could be in any doubt, but I guess international factional stuff is probably going to be the main decider, and the Corbynites are out of favour these days. Anyone got an ear to the ground?

    1. I'd be amazed if Sarwar doesn't win. You're right that Lennon is objectively the far better candidate (as virtually any other human being would be if standing against Anas Sarwar in a two-way race), but that sort of minor detail rarely has much bearing on the outcome of a Scottish Labour leadership election.

    2. Sarwar comes from a millionaire background and sends his weans to private schools.
      If, (big if) Labour is really a socialist party then Monica Lennon should skoosh it.
      Unless of course their Unionism trumps their socialism.
      London will definitely have a view on this.
      There will be blood on the walls.

  8. Another poll showing Indy lead slipping. Taxi for Sturgeon!!!

  9. Wings have not mentioned this as they are commenting on some scary stuff if true.

    1. Is this the SE English blog that says the SNP should make election about indy while at the same time saying there's not enough support for independence to be sure of this being a success?

    2. 'Jings', I just had a look. Apparently Peter Murrell controls police Scotland, the UK civil service / Whitehall and the Scottish courts personally. He must have ordered them them to find Mark Hirst had 'no case to answer' in the same way he ordered that Salmond be allowed to win both his cases against the UK civil service then.

      Scary stuff. Now where'd I put my tinfoil see you jimmy hat.

      I think I left it in a somerset warm beer garden. Somerset is of course where people say 'jings' in Scotland.

    3. What is this SE English blog you mention?

    4. No worries found it:

      Your right he does have a lot to say about Scottish politics for someone living in England (although Cambridge were his business is based and Norfolk were he lives are considered Eastern not South East England)

    5. I'm not sure of your point.

      Surely you'd agree that the residents of a country are best placed to decide how it should be governed and that people living elsewhere are not really in a good position to judge?

      This is after the fundamental basis of democracy, not something controversial.

    6. My main point was what blog were you referring to when you mentioned a 'SE England blog' obviously it was not Wings as he's not based in SE England, so I did a quick search, if it was the Tax research blog then maybe you can highlight the one it is.

      Obviously only people registered on the Scottish electoral roll can vote in Scottish Elections, ie the residents of the country, so people living 'else were' don't get to have a say. As you say this is completely correct.

      Of course commenting / reporting on another countries politics is completely normal and has been going on for years. I'm sure governments don't like it but they understand that is the price that has to be paid for a free and open democracy. Its only places like China and North Korea that think that their citizens should not read what people write from other countries about their Government - that's why they block the internet etc

    7. You posted all this in response to a typo? Heavens. S/SW England.

      English voters / bloggers are free to attack scots / the Scottish government all they like from England.

      It's only if they try to interfere in the Scottish democratic process is this wrong morally.

      I don't make such a complaint above.

    8. Incidentally, I checked the electoral commission website and it says you need to 'live in Scotland' to vote here.

      This doesn't apply to either blogger discussed.

      Of course if they took advantage of great British unionism and they were lucky enough to have say family in Scotland they could register with, they could lie and say they lived here, registering themselves to vote temporarily.

      They would be a liar though, knowing that in their heart.

    9. Voters /bloggers from any part of the world are free to comment on Scottish politics / Scotland yes glad we agree on this.

      I agree with your last sentence, but know of no blogger who has tried to interfere in the democratic process then that's just a hypothetical statement.

    10. You mean they took advantage of the rules set out by the Scot Gov/ SNP. If you have an issue with it then you need to take it up with them. The Scot Gov SNP could easily say that, for example, you have to be lived permanently in Scotland for say 3 months, prior to the election to be able to vote, they chose not to. As you feel so strongly about this I'm assuming you have raised this issue with your MSP

    11. "Voters /bloggers from any part of the world are free to comment on Scottish politics / Scotland yes glad we agree on this."

      I've never said this isn't the case. I've just said e.g. people living in England can't know what's better for Scotland than Scottish people. Also that they should not interfere in Scottish politics by actively seeking out Scots voters to try and influence these, such as by commenting to that effect on Scottish forums, blogs, advertising there website on public transport... Also that it's very rude to imagine you know what's better for a country than its residents, with visiting these to call them c**ts etc is particularly so.

      Maybe a rule change on voting is needed, but it would need careful thought; Students for example are not necessarily here for 3 months in a row, yet do live here for extended periods and use public services. Anyway, that's not the point.

      The point is that Campbell knows he doesn't 'live in Scotland'. He even tells the unionist press he doesn't want to live in a country of cowardly Scots, preferring to live with the brave brexit voting English.

      It's legal, but it definitely makes him an external influence on Scottish politics and not a democrat.

    12. I don't agree with you on this point, but agree with a point that you made a while back that we should treat everyone the same. Therefore if Campbell living in England and voting in Scotland is wrong and makes him undemocratic then James living in Scotland and voting is the US elections is also undemocratic. I have yet to see you call out James for his undemocratic voting?

    13. I don't agree with you on this point, but agree with a point that you made a while back that we should treat everyone the same. Therefore if Campbell living in England and voting in Scotland is wrong and makes him undemocratic then James living in Scotland and voting is the US elections is also undemocratic. I have yet to see you call out James for his undemocratic voting?

    14. Smearer Skier back to referring to Britnat media as a reliable source. Only unionists think that is the case but Smearer keeps doing it.

  10. I hear Sturgeon is stating that she will hold another referendum by 2023? Is that when she, Pension Pete and bobbing John can cash in their pensions.

    1. Are you arguing that pensions will be worse in an independent scotland?

      Sounds rather unionist.

  11. 51% is a disappointing figure both compared with earleier Survation polls, and also with figures ranging up near 60% from other pollsters. I wonder what gems you may have to offer for those who want independence now, not in 2099?
    Tonight I filled in a poll from Opinium. It too was obviously about Independence. Well the first half was about attitudes to parties and leaders and given it included Sarwar, Baillie, Lennon I wonder if it might have come from Labour, or someone wanting to gaze in a Labour crystal ball.
    The second half asked some nuanced questions intended (I think) to work out which factors I thought more important: e.g. a liking for Brexit, v an acceptance it had happened but wanting it reversed somehow. A party that was strong on 'constitution' or strong on managing the economy on behalf of people's wellbeing. Or strong on the union v independence: I can't remember the wording of the last of these, but that's what it came down to. Oh and there was strong leadership, versus weaker but more sympathetic leadership.
    Now I know your own poll is complete, I'm left wondering who this poll is for.

    1. That poll would tend to be either a political party internal poll or it would be for the Observer. I doubt it is for the Observer as they haven't so far done an exclusively Scottish poll.

  12. Can someone please list all the prospective SNP MSPs that 'conspired' against Salmond?

    Apparently it's all of them, all the councilors too, which is fruitcake stuff. So we are back to none of them.

    Unless a list of opposing factions can be produced - with roles in the grand conspiracy - which I keep asking for but unionists can't produce...

    Thought not.

    1. Smearer Skier

      Does nobody talk to you in the SNP or wider independence movement.

      Thought not.