There is further evidence today from Survation (for the Daily Record) that after the gains made by Yes during the winter, the referendum race has once again become something of a stalemate.
The poll puts Yes on 37%, No on 47%, with 17% saying Don’t Know. The Yes and No tallies are identical to those recorded by Survation for the Daily Record a month ago, though Yes are down a point and No up a point as compared with a slightly more recent poll Survation conducted for The Sunday Post.
Once the Don’t Knows are excluded, Yes are on 44% and No on 56%. That again is unchanged from Survation’s previous poll from the Record, though Yes are down a point on the poll for the Post.
Survation have now conducted five polls since the currency intervention. All five have put Yes on 44% or 45% (once Don’t Knows are excluded). Meanwhile of the nine most recent polls to have been conducted by a company that has been polling regularly during the last thee months, no less than eight have either shown no change at all or no more than an insignificant one point change. There can now be little doubt that the progress made by the Yes side during the winter came to a halt during the spring – though equally there is no sign of that progress being reversed.
Although today’s poll shows little change, it is sufficient to see the Yes tally in our Poll of Polls figure slip from 44% to 43%. Not much should be made of this; as we have warned, given the continuing diversity between the polls in their estimate of exactly how close the race is, the Poll of Polls figure is potentially sensitive to which mix of polling companies happened to have published most recently. Looking over the slightly longer term the Yes tally in the Poll of Polls has been running at 43-44% for most of the time since the end of March, and this is probably the best estimate of where the race has been for quite a while.
The Daily Record’s report of the poll headlines another finding that no less than 36% say that the thought of having Alex Salmond as the first Prime Minister of an independent Scotland makes them more likely to vote No, while just 12% say that it makes them more likely to vote Yes.
There are various ways this finding can be interpreted. It could indeed reflect dislike of Mr Salmond. But it could also reflect horror amongst No voters (no less than 63% of whom say it would make them more likely to vote No) at the prospect of anyone being Prime Minister of an independent Scotland. Or again it might simply reflect disdain for politicians in general (and the Yes side certainly might want to note that even amongst the Don’t Knows and Won’t Votes, 24% say the thought of Mr Salmond as Prime Minister makes them more likely to vote No and only 5% that it makes them more likely to vote Yes).
We might have been better able to distinguish between these possibilities if the poll had also asked how people reacted to the thought of David Cameron, up in Scotland today to do his bit for the Better Together campaign, still being Prime Minister in 2016. Or even, perhaps, how they would feel if Ed Miliband were in charge of the country. For now, we can but guess!
Today’s poll also contains the quite remarkable information that over one on five of Survation’s respondents claim to have read the Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence. If they are indeed typical of Scots in general that means some 800,000 Scots have read the document. Must surely be some kind of record?
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.