Bizarre polling ushers in the New Year


By Dave Taylor
Three independence polls have appeared recently – all of them peculiar in their own way.  First prize goes to British Future whose polling was conducted by Ipsos-MORI in November 2012.

They asked “all Scottish adults” if they agreed that – “If Scotland becomes independent of the United Kingdom, I will still feel British because of our geography, history and culture”, and 61% did indeed agree.

However, “all Scottish adults” isn’t the same as “all adults in Scotland”.

Respondents had been asked for their primary national identity, and only those who answered “Scottish” were asked the question, even if they lived in England.  Since 11% of those living in Scotland saw themselves as “English” this suggests a rather skewed sample.

It’s interesting however, that as Scotland moves further away from “identity politics”, ‘Britain’ seems to embrace it more tightly.

TNS-BMRB have a poll strangely headlined by both the Scotsman and the Herald as “Poll blow for Yes campaign as independence support stalls”.

In fact, the poll shows identical figures to those in December – Yes 28%, No 48%, Unsure, 24%.

The strange practice of TNS, in using the 2007 question format, continues.  It’ll be interesting to see whether they are still using it in October 2014.

A more accurate headline would have been “Naebody bothers wi politics at Hogmanay.”

Angus Reid polled on independence, but we have little to compare this poll with except wee sub-samples in GB polls

They found fewer “unsure” respondents at 16%, with 51% saying No, and 32% Yes.  This is only a small sample of 572, so the margin of error is around 5.4%.

Alistair Darling has outlined the No Campaign belief that, “since the Yes campaign only has to win once, and win by only one vote”, that ensuring that people concentrate on seeing more uncertainties under independence than in the Union will remain the cornerstone of their strategy.

The Yes campaign remains convinced that positivity will outweigh negativity, at the end of the day.

While Yes Scotland are being a little disingenuous in portraying the Curtice/Ormiston bulletin for ScotCen as being current opinion (it’s based on the prestigious Scottish Social Attitude Survey of 2011), that research was clear that “people in Scotland are clearly more inclined to have a positive rather than a pessimistic view of the likely consequences of becoming independent.”

The No strategy is to change that inclination, the Yes strategy to maintain it.

With 21 months to go, and lots of private polling being conducted, both campaigns will be ready to shift tactics as time goes on.  Published polls give the rest of us some insight into what might be influencing their thinking.