By Dave Taylor
The latest Ipsos-MORI poll for the Times shows a 4% rise since October 2012 in the Yes vote, now at 34%, while the No vote is down 3% to 55%, and Undecideds down 1% to 11%.
Given the consistency of the Unionist attack upon the SNP, and Alex Salmond in particular, the voting intention and trust in political leaders are highly illustrative of whether that campaign has worked or not.
Since October, the SNP has increased its lead over Labour in Holyrood voting intentions to eight points. Among those certain to vote, 43% would back the SNP on the Holyrood constituency vote - an increase of 3%, while Labour remains on 35% (no change). The Tories remain on 13%, with the LDs dropping a point to 7%.
That would deliver 39 constituencies to the SNP, 29 to Labour, 3 to the Tories, with the LDs keeping the Northern Isles.
Salmond continues to have a strong positive rating among voters. 50% of Scots are satisfied with his performance and the satisfaction with the First Minister has remained at or above 50% for the last eighteen months. However, there has been some increase in those dissatisfied with him – and his net satisfaction rating is now +7%, down from +35% in December 2011.
While Johann Lamont’s net satisfaction rating is now 1% higher than Salmond’s at +8%, that still represents only 39% being satisfied with her performance (and that number may well include many SNP supporters!) while 31% don’t know anything about her. In the interests of good taste, I will pass over the figures for Davidson and Rennie.
Passing the lead party role in the independence campaign to Nicola Sturgeon seems to have been an inspired move.
MORI also asked about the satisfaction with the performances of Sturgeon and Alistair Darling, as the political faces of the Yes and No campaigns.
50% are satisfied with her performance while 33% are dissatisfied, giving her a net satisfaction score of +17%. Only 17% felt that they had no view. This is considerably higher than the rating for Alistair Darling, of the No campaign. Only 33% of Scots are satisfied with his performance, while 32% are dissatisfied, giving the former Chancellor a net satisfaction rating of +1% with a huge 35% on whom Darling has made no impact.
As usual, the Ipsos-MORI poll has a wealth of detail which allows analysis of the attitude of different voter groups.
Mark Diffley of Ipsos-MORI commented, “The campaigns are entering new phases with a greater emphasis on the issues of substance that will be key in deciding the outcome of next year’s vote. With this in mind, this poll provides detail on where the two campaigns are strongest and weakest, allowing them to see where they need to concentrate their efforts.”
Those planning local campaigning might do well to study the detailed tables. For example, polling has consistently shown that the weakest level of support for independence is in the “second lowest quintile of areas of multiple deprivation”. Such statistical geek speak is of little use to most activists unfortunately.
A handier explanation might be to use the 1950s pejorative phrase “fur coat an nae knickers.” The richest 20% can afford both. The poorest 20% cannae afford either, while the 20% above them have a “guid jaicket”, and the middle 20%, a “guid cloath coat”. It’s the ones who have stretched themselves to buy the fur coat and can afford nothing else that are often problems for indy campaigners.
Now that I have offended my entire readership, let me hasten to say that those were 1950s stereotypes. In the 21st century there is no need to survey the undergarments in your branch area. The Scottish Government has done it for you!
One of the handiest sources is the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website. Simply select “Quintiles” in the Classification section and the map will helpfully show you every datazone (a group of neighbouring postcodes) in the country, colour coded as to where it lies in the spectrum of rich/poor. Click on the map for your own area and navigate around in the usual way.