After the shocking events of the #Matchettgate fake poll scandal in the early part of last year, it's entirely rational for us to treat any Scotsman poll written up by Conor Matchett with a due amount of scepticism until the full facts become clear. Matchett's piece on the new poll yesterday is hidden behind a paywall, but it certainly looks to me like his claim that voters are opposed to Nicola Sturgeon's date for the independence referendum is not quite what it appears - because the only Scotsman poll mentioned on the ComRes website was conducted before Nicola Sturgeon announced the referendum date. I can't find the relevant question in the data tables, so I suppose it's possible Matchett is referring to a second poll conducted immediately afterwards, but that seems highly unlikely. So presumably this was just the typical generic question about whether voters want a referendum within a couple of years.
The whole point about the setting of the date is that it changes the dynamic - for the first time the Scottish Government is attempting to lead public opinion on referendum timing rather than being a slave to it. Instead of hypotheticals, any future polling on timing is likely to be a binary choice on whether voters want the referendum on 19th October next year as announced. It's perfectly possible there might still be a degree of public opposition even with the greater clarity we now have - but it looks like Matchett's poll can't tell us that one way or the other.
What it can tell us, though, is that the Yes vote is holding up nicely on the main independence question.
Should Scotland be an independent country? (Savanta ComRes / Scotsman, 23rd - 28th June 2022)
Yes 49% (-)
No 51% (-)
Remember that ComRes tended to be on the No-friendly end of the spectrum last year, so a virtual dead heat is very creditable for Yes at this stage.
There were also Holyrood numbers in the poll...
Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:
SNP 46% (-)
Labour 25% (-)
Conservatives 18% (-)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)
Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:
SNP 33% (+2)
Labour 24% (+1)
Conservatives 20% (+2)
Greens 13% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-2)
Alba 2% (-1)
So barely any change at all on the constituency ballot, and nothing hugely significant on the list either. Of note is the fact that Alba are still very much registering, even though they're down one percentage point on the previous ComRes poll. In the briefing SNP sources gave to the press on Nicola Sturgeon's new strategy, there was a thinly-coded signal that part of the motivation was to get Alba voters back on board with the SNP. Even though Alba haven't won any seats in the two elections they've fought so far, the SNP will probably feel they need to have those 2% of voters back in the fold, especially in a Westminster election - and making it a plebiscitary election is an elegant way of achieving that. If that has been part of the thinking, we in Alba should be patting ourselves on the back - it means we've played a crucial role in dragging the SNP to where they need to be on independence strategy. Our role now is not to impede the SNP as they pursue the new strategy, but to support them - unless of course they start backtracking, in which case we'll need to hold their feet to the fire. (They may not think they want our support, but they certainly need it whether they realise that or not - many of the most experienced pro-indy activists are in Alba's ranks.)
Last but by no means least, we have Scottish voting intentions for Westminster, which show us how close the SNP are to achieving a mandate for independence in a plebiscitary election.
Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:
Liberal Democrats 8%
Another party 3%
I wouldn't normally bother including the "another party" figure, but in this case it's absolutely crucial, because if those people are basically Greens, the combined SNP-Green vote share (ie. the pro-indy vote share) could be just 1% or 2% shy of the magical 50% threshold.
We also have a snap independence poll from a firm I've never previously heard of called Techne (it looks like the offshoot of an Italian firm), and this one was carried out after the First Minister's announcement. It has Yes 46% and No on 54%. I'd treat this with caution, because the sample size was only around 500 - which is high enough to be credible, but is only about half of what is normal. There's also a degree of uncertainty due to the firm's lack of any track record in Scotland, although it is a member of the British Polling Council.
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We've already seen in the three days since Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that the overwhelmingly unionist mainstream media are attempting a 'shock and awe' campaign to try to kill off independence - and the misuse of polling is playing a key part in that. If you'd like to balance things out with polling commissioned by a pro-independence outlet and which asks the questions we want to see asked, one way of doing that would be to help Scot Goes Pop's fundraising drive - see details below.
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