YouGov: Yes Vote Remains Steady But Low

There is a new poll from YouGov published in today’s Sun newspaper.  Curiously, perhaps, the fieldwork was conducted between 4 and 7 August, that is partly before the leaders’ debate on 5 August, and partly afterwards. Thus unlike Saturday’s poll by Survation, it does not provide us with a clear measure of whether support for Yes has changed in the wake of the debate. The poll also does not contain any questions about what respondents made of the debate.

The poll puts Yes on 35%, unchanged on YouGov’s previous poll towards the end of June, while No are on 55%, up one. Once the Don’t Knows are excluded this equates to a Yes tally of 39%, No 61%, unchanged from YouGov’s last poll.  We should though note that YouGov have made a couple of tweaks to their methodology – the company has included16 and 17 year olds for the first time, while the sample has been weighted by respondent’s place of birth. The former change has apparently made little difference, while the latter helped to push the Yes tally up a point.

After the media pounding that the Yes side has taken in the wake of Saturday’s Survation poll, it might be relieved that a poll that was at least partially conducted after the leaders’ debate more or less shows (tweaks aside) no change. However, YouGov are of course one of those pollsters that generally report a relatively low Yes vote, while the 39% Yes vote in their previous poll was the lowest the company had recorded since January. There was, perhaps, less far for the Yes vote to fall in the first place, while a 39% tally is hardly cause for Yes rejoicing. (Indeed, it helps to reduce the Yes vote in our poll of polls from 44% to 43%.) In any event we will need further polling evidence before we can conclude that the leaders’ debate was not as damaging to the Yes side as Survation’s poll suggested.

Meanwhile today’s poll shows that voters have noticed the leaflets from the two governments and from the two campaigns dropping through their letterbox in recent weeks. Now 55% say they have received a leaflet from the Yes side, up from 39% June, while 47% reckon they have received something from the No side (up from 29%). The Yes side continue to outgun Better Together in the extent of its campaign activity; 68% reckon they have had some kind of contact from the Yes Scotland campaign, whereas only 57% recall contact with Better Together. Even so, only 9% of voters say that the Yes Scotland campaign has knocked on their door, which perhaps cast some doubt on the extent of that campaign’s much mentioned focus on person to person contact. although the figure still beats the 5% achieved by Better Together.

The asymmetry of campaigning effort by the two sides is matched by an asymmetry of enthusiasm for the referendum itself. While 80% of Yes voters think the referendum has been ‘interesting’ only 34% of No voters do so. Equally 73% of Yes voters believe the referendum has been ‘good for Scotland’, but just 10% of No voters share their view.  Meanwhile, only 34% of Yes voters believe the campaign has gone on too long, whereas 71% of No voters do.  Unsurprisingly, perhaps, there appears to be widely held feeling amongst No voters that they should not have had to go through the whole process in the first place, and that – so long as their side wins – they will be glad when it is all over.

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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.