Independence poll: generations, gender, geographies and groups

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by Dave Taylor

“Just a poll” said EphemeralDeception yesterday in the comments to the news report of the Herald’s recent poll showing more Scots favour independence than oppose it, and s/he* was dead right!

S/he* was also dead right in saying that “overall the trend is good.”

Proper polls are the best evidence we have for the current mood of the nation, and the best guide to future strategy.  Hence any politician who claims to have paid no attention to polls (step forward G Brown Esq!) is being economical with the truth (aka as lying through yer wallies).

While the sub-samples that are published by reliable pollsters don’t accurately represent the balance of people within that sample (only the poll as a whole does that) they shouldn’t be dismissed either.  As Anthony Wells, (online polling guru) says –

“They can still give you something useful – if 70% of people approve of something in Scotland and 40% do in England, you can take that as showing there is a difference!”

So what can we glean from this TNS-BMRB poll?

Generations

FOR AGAINST DON’T KNOW
18-34 year olds 44% 27% 29%
35-54 year olds 42% 36% 22%
over 55 years old 34% 48% 19%

Indeed the only age group with over half the respondents against independence are the over 65s.

That suggests that an important point to be clarified, as soon as possible, is the payment of pensions.  Not just the State Pension, that’s easily done.  More importantly reassurance needs to be clearly given that occupational pensions from businesses in England or from the rump UK Government to ex-employees living in Scotland will continue to be paid.

Gender

(* In an article including gender analysis, I didn’t want to arbitrarily allocate a gender to EphemeralDeception without knowing which was accurate. Ascertaining which went well beyond the bounds of what is acceptable journalistic practice).

FOR AGAINST DON’T KNOW
Female 36% 36% 28%
Male 43% 40% 17%

The higher number of “Don’t Know’s” among females is absolutely normal in polling, on all kinds of issues.  There doesn’t seem to have been any conclusive research as to why this is the case, but I am assured by my wife that it is simply down to women being less opinionated, arrogant, pompous asses than men.  I don’t know.

More significantly, however, there is often a political assumption that women are less willing to “take risks” with their families’ futures than are men.

This poll would tend to suggest that women are not significantly more threatened by the prospect of independence than are men.

Geographies

Not surprisingly, support for independence appears stronger in areas with large SNP representation than elsewhere.

FOR AGAINST DON’T KNOW
West 41% 41% 19%
South & East 35% 39% 26%
North 44% 30% 26%

In the Electoral Regions, support is highest in the Highlands & Islands and the North East (45%) while support is lowest in the South and Lothians (30%).

Groups

Groups such as “AB” or “C1” are often referred to, but seldom explained. They are

A High managerial, administrative or professional
B Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
C1 Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2 Skilled manual workers
D Semi and unskilled manual workers
E State pensioners, casual or lowest grade workers, unemployed with state benefits only

“A” and “E” are both small groups in comparison with the others, so they are usually lumped in with the neighbouring group, and these were the group attitudes to independence:

FOR AGAINST DON’T KNOW
AB 37% 49% 14%
C1 37% 42% 21%
C2 38% 38% 24%
DE 44% 27% 29%

Does this suggest that those who have done best out of the British state are more likely to want to continue with it? Is that why Eastwood still votes Labour? Would a strategy that appeals to their self-interest succeed?

Happy speculating!