By Dave Taylor 
Inevitably, there is “churn” in any measure of public opinion on the independence referendum.  Some people will move from No or Yes to Undecided, and vice-versa.  It’s even possible that some will move directly between Yes and No – though that seems less likely.
Elections/referendums are decided by where people end up, so the trend in opinion polls is what helps us to understand the public mood, and the sections of the population who are shifting their voting intention.

The net effect of these changes is what matters, and the trend within each individual pollster.  Yet again, another pollster shows the same pattern.  The Yes vote is rising, the No vote is dropping.

The data allows us to see within which groups, the changes are happening.

Overall, in Newsnet Scotland’s Panelbase survey the Yes vote has increased by 3%, the No vote has dropped by 2% and those undecided has dropped by 1% since Panelbase last measured Scottish opinion towards the end of February.

However, such changes aren’t a constant across every demographic group.

Unlike almost every other demographic, those intending to vote No increased among the traditionally conservative 55+ age group – where they are up 4.5% (equally from Yes and undecideds).

Numerically, they were outweighed by the 8% of 16-34 year olds who moved to Yes, from No (5%) or from Undecided (3%) and the 12% of 35-54 year olds who moved to Yes (1% from No and 11% from Undecided).

No also rose by more than 3% among those who “didnae vote/cannae remember if they did or no/couldnae vote in 2011”.  Equally from Yes and Undecided – assuming that these folk remember what they said last time!

Among males, 6% more moved to the No camp – almost all of them from Undecided.  They were more than compensated for by the 8% of females who left the No camp – a net 5% now voting Yes, while the others moved from No to Undecided.

The recent Survation poll indicated that more than a quarter of those who voted Labour in 2011 were now yes supporters, and the Panelbase poll confirms that finding.

Among Labour voters, Yes gained 9% (from 17% to 26%) – 3% from No and 6% from Undecideds. 

Even among Tory voters some indecision has crept in.  Tory No voters are down by 9% (from 93% to 84%) Yes gained 2%, while Undecideds gained 7%

Among the minority parties (Lib-Dem, Green, UKIP, SSP etc) [1] there has been a similar shift.  Yes gained 13% (from 13% to 26%) – 1% from No and 12% from Undecideds.

Confirming the shift of opinion among groups considered to be natural status quo supporters, support for Yes among the ABC1 socio-economic group rose by 5% (from 32% to 37%).

The Panelbase survey caused a bit of a media ripple, and to be honest caught the team at Newsnet Scotland by surprise.  As Professor John Curtice remarked, Panelbase had seemingly resisted the rise in support for Yes picked up by other pollsters at the turn of the year, so perhaps we shoudln’t have been surprised at the increase for Yes.

Now though, it too has ‘fallen into line’ and we can say with a degree of certainty that there is some momentum with the Yes campaign.  Whether that momentum persists in the weeks and months to come, no-one can say, and the next round of surveys will no doubt already be in the pipeline in an attempt at determining if there is ‘Devo bounce’ for the No campaign as the pro-Union parties present their menu of more powers.

[1] Party affiliation is categorised by how they cast their constituency votes in 2011. As only the LDs of the minority parties ran candidates at constituency level in any significant numbers, the largest number of recorded minority party voters vote.


2014-03-21 10:42

Being well into the 55+ group myself, I can understand why wrinklies may be concerned about pensions &c;, especially those who have not taken advantage of the internet. The vast majority will care about their offspring, of course, but in a less focused way.

From my own experience as an expat, I find that most families I know who live apart from their families have come to terms with technology pretty well and use Skype and email to keep in touch with the stay-at-homes. They should be able to persuade older generations to look beyond the BBC fairly easily.

For those who are physically closer to their (grand-)parents, could the Yes campaign not enlist the younger generation in an attempt to “sell” the proposition to their elders, with the emphasis on the future? In any event they would be doing a public service in educating wrinklies in new technology.

Needs a snappy slogan! Updated tables:…/…
2014-03-21 19:45

The pension changes announced in the budget have got to be a concern. The ability to access funds from your pension at any time sounds, on the face of it, like a good thing but if it means that your pension fund would now count towards means testing, people approaching retirement age could see their pensions wiped out during a bout of unemployment.

Marga B
2014-03-21 15:35

Funny, in Catalonia the older generation is more likely to be independentist, not less, and they all say they want it for their grandchildren.

Of course, older Scots lived in the shadow of the World War and British solidarity, while older Catalans experienced Franco and cultural repression.

It would be great though if the “legacy for my grandchildren” idea could find its way into the Scottish mindset too.
2014-03-21 17:29

Quoting Marga B:

they all say they want it for their grandchildren

Spot on, Marga. That’s where I think younger generations could help their elders to become savvy of the internet and to become aware that there is an alternative view to that of the MSM and the BBC.

My first trip to Catalonia was as a young teenager in the ’60s when I was taken by family friends to see the then still banned Sardana being performed just off the Ramblas. The Catalan referendum and its outcome will be no surprise to me. Lucky that these (…/…) weren’t around then!

I don’t think Grandparents in Scotland voting No will tip the balance, but I do wonder what their offspring will think of them.


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