Ipsos MORI – Low Yes Vote But Little Change

The latest Ipsos MORI poll for STV of referendum vote intentions was released this afternoon. For the most part it represents disappointing news for the Yes side, though it upholds the suggestion that the currency intervention has had little impact on the balance of public opinion.

Amongst those certain to vote (the opinions of whom Ipsos MORI prefer to headline and which in any event account for over three-quarters of the sample), Yes are on 32%, down two points on the company’s previous poll conducted shortly after the unveiling in late November of the independence White Paper. No are unchanged on 57%. Once the Don’t Knows are excluded the figures equate to a 36% Yes vote, down one point on the last poll.

These differences are too small to be statistically significant. The poll is thus best read as further evidence that the currency announcement has – so far at least – not had much impact on the state of the referendum race.  All in all we have now had five post-currency announcement polls.  On average they show a one point increase in the Yes vote (after Don’t Knows are excluded), and that one point can probably be accounted for by the change made by Survation to their weighting scheme. The average Yes vote in these five polls has been 42%.

True, today’s Ipsos MORI poll does find that only 13% say the intervention has made them more likely to vote Yes, while as many as 30% reckon it has made them more likely to vote No. Much of that should of course be discounted. As Survation found, much of it represents a partisan response with Yes voters saying they are more likely to vote Yes, and No voters the opposite.  More intriguing is the fact that only 16% of undecided voters – the true target of the currency announcement – say they are more likely to vote Yes, while 34% say the opposite.

At the same time, however, when the undecided voters were asked by Ipsos MORI  to say which way they were more likely to vote in the referendum, as many as 39% said Yes and only 29% No – a more favourable tilt to the Yes side than in either of Ipsos MORI’s two previous polls! Maybe this is potential Yes support that is now at risk of being eroded – but if so it is not obviously being won over by the No side very easily.

The 36% Yes vote in this latest poll is the lowest to be recorded by any pollster since two polls that were conducted in the days immediately after the publication of the independence White Paper. Ipsos MORI’s polls now look like a bit of an outlier, much as Panelbase’s polls did (in the opposite direction) for much of last year. But that of course does not mean they are wrong. Meanwhile the Yes side certainly needs to remember that successfully neutralising their opponents’ attacks will not bring it victory. It is still quite a way behind and needs to make progress, not simply tread water.

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About the author

John Curtice is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, Senior Research Fellow at ScotCen and at 'UK in a Changing Europe', and Chief Commentator on the What Scotland Thinks website.