A Step Backwards for Yes? Latest YouGov Poll

It has long been apparent that YouGov are amongst the companies that tend to paint a relatively pessimistic picture of the Yes side’s prospects. But even by the standards of its previous polls, the company’s latest poll, conducted for The Times, must be regarded as a considerable disappointment for those working in the Yes side’s offices in Glasgow’s Hope St.

The poll puts Yes on 35%, No on 54% while 12% said either Don’t Know or they would not vote. Once the Don’t Knows are excluded, Yes are on 39%, No on 61%.

The result is only slightly different from YouGov’s previous poll, conducted for The Sun a fortnight ago – however the figures are tallied, Yes are down just a point and No up one. (The same is also true of our latest poll of polls which now puts Yes on 43%.) In itself such a movement is of little import. However, YouGov’s last reading itself represented a disappointing result for the Yes side; its vote was down two points (after Don’t Knows were excluded) on two previous YouGov polls, one conducted at the end of March and one at the end of April.

Like a number of others conducted at around the same time, those two earlier polls had suggested that the Yes side had made some further progress in the wake of the Chancellor’s currency intervention. Now YouGov have served up two polls that suggest that gain may have been reversed.

Even if we are disinclined to draw that conclusion, the Yes side cannot afford to be spending weeks doing no more than treading water.  They need to make further progress, and of that there is certainly no sign in this poll.

Central to the Yes side’s difficulties would appear to be a continuing failure to persuade voters of the economic benefits of independence. The proportion that think that Scotland would be economically better off is down three points (from 30% to 27%) on when the question was last asked in March. Economic pessimists now outnumber optimists (by 22 points) to the same extent as they did as long ago as December.

Meanwhile, just 17% say they would personally be better off as a result of independence, down two points on both March and December. As many as 43% believe they would be worse off.

In short, it appears that on the issue that above all seems to be central to voters’ decisions as to whether to vote Yes or No, the Yes side has made very little progress indeed. It is difficult to see how a majority will vote for independence in September unless the economic case for leaving the UK is made more persuasively than it apparently has been so far.

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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.