Sometimes there genuinely is more than one way to look at the result of an opinion poll. Apply one criterion and it can look good for one side. Judge it by another criterion and a different picture is painted. Today’s poll of referendum vote intentions by Survation for the Daily Record is a case in point.
On the one hand the poll can be regarded as good news for the Yes side. Once the Don’t Knows are excluded, it puts Yes on 47% (with No on 53%). That means last month’s record high 47% Yes vote from Survation has now been replicated. So it would seem that last month’s poll was not necessarily an aberration, that the Yes side did indeed make some further progress between May and June, and that as a result the supporters of independence are now tantalizingly close to the 50% mark.
On the other hand, it may be asked whether the Yes side can afford at this stage to have spent a month apparently simply standing still. With little more than two months to go to polling day, even a pollster such as Survation that paints a relatively optimistic picture for the Yes side still puts No ahead. That suggests Yes need to make more progress soon if victory is to look at all like a realistic prospect.
Indeed, no further progress has been achieved by the Yes side even though the proportion of Don’t Knows has slipped from 17% to 13%, perhaps another straw in the wind following last weekend’s TNS BMRB poll that suggested the undecided are beginning to make up their minds. Nevertheless, as in that weekend poll, there is no sign that the decisions of the previously undecided are helping Yes to reduce the No side’s lead. At 46% the No vote (including Don’t Knows) is up by just as much on last month – two points – as the Yes vote.
Overall, today’s poll leaves our poll of polls unchanged, with Yes on 43% and No on 57%. This is the position around which it has been oscillating ever since the end of March.
Meanwhile, today’s poll gives us further confirmation of the intensity with which some voters are getting involved in the referendum campaign. No less than 21% say that they have fallen out with a family member, friend or work colleague over the referendum debate, a finding that closely replicates a result ICM reported last month. Yes voters (28%) are more likely than No voters (19%) to report such a falling out, seemingly a further indication that Yes supporters are more involved in the campaign than their No counterparts (either that or they have more likely to have disputatious friends!). At the same time, men and the under 45s are (stereotypically) more likely than women and the over 45s to report having fallen out with someone; hopefully they will be able to repair their broken relationships once the referendum is over.
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.