ICM Put Yes Ahead – Perhaps

ICM returns today to using the internet for its polling, this time for the Sunday Telegraph. Much of the interviewing for this latest poll in fact happened on the same days as that for the company’s poll in Saturday’s Guardian. However, this poll is a smaller exercise than those the company has been undertaking regularly during the course of the last twelve months for Scotsman Newspapers, and indeed has a smaller sample size (705) than is common in any poll. That smaller sample size means that it is more vulnerable to the possibility that its results deviate from the true picture as a result of chance.

So the fact that this poll has the Yes side well ahead comes with a substantial health warning. Yes are on 49% (up 11 points on the equivalent figure in its last internet poll for Scotland on Sunday) while No are on 42%,(down five). Once the Don’t Knows (just 9% of the sample) are removed, Yes are on 54%, up 9 points. This is the highest vote for Yes ever recorded by ICM in one of its internet polls; its previous high was 48% as long ago as April. But given the methodological caveats, the finding, while not wholly disregarded, should clearly be viewed with caution. So far as our poll of polls is concerned, the poll will be included but, exceptionally, given a weight of 0.7 to reflect its smaller sample size.

The poll covers now very familiar ground on currency. A clear majority (69%) feel that ‘Scotland should be able to keep the pound sterling(£) if the country votes to leave the UK in the referendum’, though worded in this way the proposition only secures 36% support amongst No supporters, a finding not replicated some other recent polls.

More interesting perhaps is that in response to a rather complicated question about the economic impact that independence might have on both sides of the border, the proportion who reckoned Scotland’s economy would be damaged (37%) was almost matched by an equal proportion who think it would benefit (36%). Here perhaps is further evidence that the Yes side can only win if it does not lose on the issue of the economy. What we need, however, is further evidence that this is indeed what it is managing to achieve.

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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.