TNS BMRB Confirms No-Post Games Boost for Yes

TNS BMRB’s monthly poll is published today. As ever its face to face polling is done over a longer fieldwork period than other polls. In this instance polling started the day the Commonwealth Games were opened on 23 July and ended on 7 August, two days after the leaders’ debate. It thus gives us a further reasonable indication of the impact of the Games on referendum voting intentions, but does not really add to our understanding of the impact of the debate.

The poll puts Yes on 32%, No on 45%, while 23% say they are still undecided. This represents no change in the Yes vote as compared with the company’s last monthly poll, while the No tally is up four points. The proportion saying Don’t Know has dropped by four points – an indication perhaps that voters are finally beginning to make up their minds. Once the Don’t Knows are excluded Yes are on 42%, down two points on TNS’s previous poll.

We should though bear in mind that TNS’s previous poll was an usually good result for the Yes side – a record high of 44%. The company’s three previous polls put the Yes vote at 41%, a finding that today’s poll more or less mimics. Meanwhile, TNS themselves point out that amongst those certain to vote the No lead over Yes is actually down a point as compared with the previous poll. So while today’s poll clearly confirms the message of previous Survation and YouGov polls  that the Games did not generate a boost for the Yes side, we should be more careful in suggesting that it represents a reverse to the prospects of the pro-independence movement. Certainly it leaves our poll of polls (still dated 7 August because that is the day on which interviewing for this poll ended) unchanged.

Today’s poll also asks people whether they think they have enough information about what would happen in the event of a Yes vote and (separately) a No one. Voters seem to be unclear about what will happen under either eventuality, they are even less clear about what would happen following a Yes vote than a No one.  In the case of a Yes vote just 29% agree that they have enough information about what would happen, while 51% disagree. The equivalent figures for a No vote are 36% and 42%.

We might anticipate that, viewing the referendum through a partisan lens, Yes voters would be more likely to feel that they know what will happen follow a Yes vote, while No voters would feel more better informed about the implications of a No vote.  This, however, is not the case. Yes voters are more likely than No voters to feel better informed in both cases, albeit more so in the case of a Yes vote. As many as 52% of Yes voters agree they have enough information about what would happen in the event of a Yes vote, while just 21% of No voters do so. Meanwhile, 43% of Yes voters feel they know what would follow on from a No vote, compared with 39% of No supporters.

What the answers to this question do not tell us, however, is what it is that people think would actually happen following a Yes or a No vote. Perhaps some Yes voters are convinced that a Yes vote would be followed by positive benefits and a No one by developments they would not like. In contrast maybe No voters are inclined to regard the implications of the vote on 18 September in less stark terms. If so, then perhaps TNS’s questions tell more about the differing perceptions of Yes and No voters than they do the perceived effectiveness of the two campaigns.

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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.