By Dave Taylor

So, are 44% (Panelbase for the SNP), 34% (Angus Reid for the Express) or 29% (YouGov for the Devo-Plus campaign) of Scots going to vote for independence?

What many people do, of course, is just to pick the result they prefer, but this column is going to attempt to dig a bit deeper than that.

What the 3 polls recently published certainly tell us (as if we didn’t know) is that it depends on what thoughts are uppermost in people’s minds as they enter the polling booth. Then they will be faced with a simple question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

However, different people will have different thoughts in their head, and their decision will often depend on what those thoughts are – and which campaign has been most successful in planting the critical one.

The way in which the question is put, or its position in a series of questions, can influence responses.

One of the reasons for the high Yes response in the Panelbase/SNP poll is that the referendum question was asked after people had been asked to think about two things before they answered Yes or No.

“Scotland could be a successful, independent country” – Agree 52% : No 37% : DK 11%.

“Who do you trust to take the best decisions for Scotland: the Scottish Government or the

Westminster Government?” – Scottish 60% : Westminster 16% : Neither 19% : DK 5%.

The answers to both questions are unsurprising, as they replicate previous polling. If these thoughts are in peoples’ minds then most readers will be partying just over a year from now.

The YouGov/Devo Plus poll asked the voting intention first – but planted the thought that they wanted to dominate in the question – “If there was a referendum tomorrow on Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and becoming an Independent Country and this was the question, how would you vote? Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The No side were desperate to plant the “leave the United Kingdom” idea into the question from the beginning. If they can persuade people that independence will also mean leaving the Queen and the “social union” then many here will be drowning their sorrows!

Technically, the Angus Reid/Express poll was better in terms of asking the voting intention question first, and not building in assumptions – “The referendum question proposed by the Scottish Government reads as follows: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ If this referendum were held today, how would you vote?” Unfortunately, it was a really poorly constructed poll otherwise. With a sample of only 549, the margin of error is a third higher than in a normally sized poll.

However, it is the poll most in line with other polling over the last year. If voters only have their current level of thinking about the referendum then the default position of a No vote (or not bothering to vote) will kick in, and we’ll see a 3:2 margin in favour of the Union.

So why are you sitting there reading this article? Get out there and help to plant positive or negative (according to choice) thoughts about independence.

Data tables are available here – Panelbase/SNP, YouGov/Devo Plus, Angus Reid/Express


2013-09-02 21:38

Panelbase usually ask the straight referendum question and get Yes: 33% No: 45%. They are the only pollster that actually ask the referendum question straight.

My best guess is the “How do you intend to vote” phrase encouraged undecideds to answer what they think they will end up voting for. And it looks like most want more reassurance before they commit themselves to voting yes. The SNP poll doesn’t tells us how things currently stand, however I think it gives a good indication what the eventual result will be. Few will vote no if their heart isn’t in it.
Jamie Black
2013-09-02 21:40

‘the thought they wanted to dominate’.

That thoughts being…that Scotland would leave the UK and become Independent? Surely that is the thought that the Yes group WANT to dominate? No?

Completely confused by what your tying to grasp at here. Because the Yougov poll added some completely correct context to the question, that somehow makes it invalid? are you trying to say that after a Yes vote, Scotland would NOT leave the UK and become Independent? That’s what it sounds like here!

This clutching at straws suggests that you know you are losing. .Big time.
2013-09-02 23:02

“Completely confused” Mmm I doubt that. I actually referred to you (and some on the Yes side) at the top of the article – “What many people do, of course, is just to pick the result they prefer”
Leader of the Pack
2013-09-02 23:06

The correct context as you put it is not the fact that Scotland is leaving the UK its the fact that Scotland is ENDING the UK by ENDING the Act of Union 1707 which is all the UK has ever been. The re-establishment of the separate Parliaments sees the END of the UNIFIED UK PARLIAMENT. Therefore the Yougov poll was way off the mark with their loaded INVALID question. AGAIN! There is far too much manipulation of the polling in this country to make them valid or reliable which begs the question why does the Negative campaign rely on them more than the Yes campaign does? Because they are unreliable and easily manipulated is the obvious answer.
2013-09-03 05:11

Indeed so.

The mechanism by which independence will be restored to both Scotland AND England is DISSOLUTION of the Union of 1707, its associated enabling acts of parliaments, and any subsequent agreements or INTRA-treaties derived therefrom.

To concede the UK can survive its own dissolution, is to accept that England is a continuing state and that Scotland would be a new state.

The truth is of course, that both Scotland and England would be SUCCESSOR states.

2013-09-03 00:13

When young coples mature an get mairried they find a hoose o thair ain tae stert a faimly raither nor bidin thegither wi thair parents. This disnae mean that they’re separatin fae thair mithers an faithers.

2013-09-02 22:18

I’m reading this article as it is 10 pm, and I’m presently planning YES street canvassing and stalls – bloody cheek of it!! 🙂
The Fly Fifer
2013-09-03 00:23

@Jamie Black. You have been gripping my allsorts lately with you unattractive position on Scottish Independence. What is your point? Do you have one or are you just waiting for a reason to vote YES? Are you undecided? OK. Defend these Westminster policies: ATOS, Bedroom Tax, Austerity in the face of global condemnation by the independent ‘experts’. The growing NHS crisis, illegal wars, Trident on the Clyde…

You want to join the debate? Well go on then, give me a reason to remain part of the UK as it stands. I am currently voting YES but I’m an open mind type of fella and would love to see your reasoning behind your argument… which is?….
2013-09-03 12:57

The rUK is slowly but surely heading down the tubes and we need to get the hell out before it happens. I can’t think of one good reason for staying in the Union but I can think of many reasons why Scotland should be Independent: getting the Government we vote for, making our own economic decisions, ensuring social justice for all our citizens, getting control of our oil, getting rid of nuclear weapons, having a written Constitution guaranteeing citizens’ rights, etc . . .
Jamie Black
2013-09-03 18:57

Quite simply the Fly Fifer – the Union works for me. I do okay because of it, or in spite of it. My life is not defined by politics, maybe yours is?

I would ask you to look at your own life and work out how Indy would improve it. That is how people should judge whether they vote Yes or No, not on some trumped up politicians political ideals, never mind the lies and half truths to support them.
Too many of the Yes group fails to acknowledge the very real risks with Indy, constantly scoffing and ‘debunking myths’.

Put it this way – it’s can’t all be sunshine and roses with Indy, but listen to the SNP and you’d think that was the case.

It’s being over sold like a used car.  
Colonel Kurtz
2013-09-03 21:37

[quote name=”Jamie Black”]Quite simply the Fly Fifer – the Union works for me. I do okay because of it, or in spite of it. My life is not defined by politics, maybe yours is?

So your all right jack and sod those who are feeling the effects of the unjust welfare policies applied by Westminster?

What is your answer to Bedroom Tax which labour have no intention of rolling back?

To me the only solution is Independence and the ability to get the government that listens to what the people of Scotland want.
Jamie Black
2013-09-04 07:51

You are right Colonel, in this instance. I will vote for what I, as an individual want. I want Scotland to continue within the Union, having powers for the things that matter most, and sharing control of those where it’s best shared. It works pretty well – unless you think that the world can be and will be perfect. Sorry to burst your balloon, but if you think all the problems of the world wil be solved with Indy, you are deluded. They will be replaced with others.

Response to ‘bedroom tax’? Quite simply – why should I has a hard working tax payer subsidise someone else to have a spare from when I can’t even afford one for myself? I completely accept there are exceptional and special circumstances, and I’m pleased the SNP have put plans in place to mitigate those situations. Two sides to every story, but not according to you maybe.

2013-09-04 00:04

So whats wrong about wanting a government we actually vote for? Its called democracy!

2013-09-03 16:50

I have been on the YouGov panel for several years and have answered dozens of polls in that time.

Early on in my membership I was asked to contribute to a couple of polls regarding Independence which means that YouGov are well aware where my political sympathies lie. Anybody who thinks that they don’t store such information is very naive.

It is ages since I have been included in the panel for an Independence Poll which suggests to me that when they are making up the respective panels it is the easiest thing in the world to rig the panel membership to reflect the desires of those commissioning the Poll.

This week’s 59% NO Poll stinks and I would suggest it is not entirely unconnected with my remarks above.
2013-09-03 19:18

All panel based pollsters send out invitations to people based on their profile, and how that matches the pollster’s internal description of the population. Uniquely (I think) YouGov uses “political identity” – based on Westminster politics, as a key weighting factor.

It’s not that YouGov are wicked or biased, just that their model is so GB centric, that their methodology is misleading when applied to Scotland.

It’s a bit like Angus Reid using Canadian assumptions when they entered the UK polling market. Pollsters don’t set out to get things wrong – but some of them don’t understand that their core assumptions don’t apply in different political systems.

If you are an 18 year old unemployed female, then I’d be amazed if you don’t get lots of invites (they don’t have many of them in the panel). If you are an older male ….

2013-09-03 23:58…/1104

“The only question that consistently produces a plurality in favour of Scottish independence is in response to the straightforward question of whether respondents are in favour of Scotland becoming a country independent of the UK. Responses vary over time, but more often than not the balance is in favour of independence”

Well well well….. shock horror!

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