At Last! A Scottish Poll

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  By Dave Taylor
 
It now looks increasingly clear that there will be a single question in the referendum – though it won’t be the one that TNS_BMRB ask, which is still the contorted question that the SNP originally suggested in 2007 [1].
 
Their latest poll continues to ask questions based on both that likelihood, and the possibility of a “Devo Max” third option.

By Dave Taylor
 
It now looks increasingly clear that there will be a single question in the referendum – though it won’t be the one that TNS_BMRB ask, which is still the contorted question that the SNP originally suggested in 2007 [1].
 
Their latest poll continues to ask questions based on both that likelihood, and the possibility of a “Devo Max” third option.

That’s useful, given the distinct possibility that the middle-ground/unsure group whose ambition as yet falls short of outright independence, may decide the outcome.  Thus, the size of the Devo-Maxers and how they may vote in a single question referendum, is critical.

The single question shows a 3% rise in support for the status quo to 53% since July – and a full 9% higher than the January level, while support for independence has fallen by a further 2% since July to 28% – 7% below the January figure.  Don’t Knows are 1% down since July, 2% down since January.

If Devo Max was on the agenda then the status quo at 35% is up 6% on July, but only 3% up since January.  Devo Max with 34% support is down 3% since July, but 3% up on January.  Independence support at 22% is unchanged – 1% less than July, 1% more than January.

On a poll of this size, the margin of error[2] is around 3%.

As I wrote about the TNS_BMRB July poll “not everyone responding to the poll is consistent.”

56% of the sample had consistent views, regardless of whether one or two questions were being asked.  31% wanted no change at all, 19% were for independence, regardless and 6% hadn’t a clue.

2% opted for exact opposites, dependent on the questions – independence on one, status quo on the other!

5%, who had definite views for either independence or the status quo in a multi-option question, became strangely confused when the option they hadn’t selected was removed, and became “Don’t Knows” on a simple question.

The split of the 34% who wanted Devo Max but, when that option disappeared had to make a straight choice, is the most important data.

59% of Devo Max supporters opted for the status quo, 17% for independence, while the remaining 23% were unsure.

Will supporters of independence be depressed by this poll?  Probably.

Should they be?  Probably not.

The regularly used phrase “two years to go” is more than just a vague hope that things will get better.  Anyone who has studied institutional change (and few changes are more important than constitutional ones) knows that emotions and opinions follow a quite normal and expected pattern

When change isn’t on the near horizon, people don’t greatly worry about it.  When asked, they can be supportive.

When change becomes a realistic possibility, people become concerned about possible negatives, and opinion becomes equally negative about change.  The temptation for the advocates of change is to rush in and try to answer every question.  That’s why the No Campaign are demanding answers and the Yes side are wisely avoiding playing their game.

It’s a necessary phase for people to go through doubt and concerns.  When those have been fully explored is the point when reassurances are given, and facts deployed.

Finally; Have some people been influenced by the flag waving summer that we have been through? That seems likely.

It seems equally likely that such people will be influenced in the other direction by the flag waving in 2014 – when the flag will be a different one.

 

[1] “I AGREE/DISAGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state“.
Using the same question over a long period of time allows us to see changes of opinion, which are masked if different questions are asked each time.  Whether the actual wording of the question matters at all remains to be seen.

[2] Margin of error.  Polling isn’t an exact science! Statisticians calculate the range within which any figure is likely to fall.  An MoE of 3% means that “35%” is likely to be in the range of 32% to 38%, but probably near the middle of that range.