Has The Yes Side’s Progress Stalled?

The first installment of the latest monthly poll to be conducted by Survation for the Daily Record is published today. It gives the Yes side reason to pause for thought, while the No side’s recent apparent nervousness should be steadied a little.

The poll puts Yes on 37%, down two points on a month ago, though on 47% the No tally has eased a point too. Rather more respondents (16%, +3) said they were undecided than did four weeks ago.

Once the Don’t Knows are excluded the poll points to a 44% Yes vote, down a point on both last month’s poll and on Survation’s previous poll in February too.

In themselves the changes are statistically insignificant. They certainly do not justify any ‘major poll reverse for the Nats’ style headlines.

However, this is the second poll in a row – following Panelbase’s poll for Wings over Scotland published on Sunday – to show that the winter’s increase in Yes support may have come to a halt now that spring finally seems to be with us.

That is not the impression the Yes side would like to see created. They would prefer to see their support increase month on month – a movement with apparent sufficient momentum to take them past the winning post by September. They must fear that while the winter’s gains may have been consolidated, their further progress is now stalled.

Equally, the Better Together campaign will be hoping that the erosion of its lead has indeed come to an end – though at the same time today’s poll still leaves it without any firm evidence that its recent pronouncements on the pound and the economic consequences of independence have brought it any beneficial effect.

Interestingly, as Panelbase also found, this poll too suggests the gender gap may have widened in recent weeks. No less than 52% of men say they will vote Yes (after Don’t Knows are excluded), up one point on both last month and February. In contrast, just 35% of women say they will vote Yes, down four points on last month and three on February. The independence White Paper’s offer of free childcare does not seem to be doing the trick.

The SNP gather in Aberdeen this weekend for their spring conference. Activists will be hoping that Mr Salmond gives the speech of his life. It is certainly not an opportunity he can afford to waste.

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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.