Scottish indepence polls: All to play for as result comes down to the don’t-knows

Between them the last half dozen polls point to an average of Yes 49 per cent, No 51 per cent

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The Independent Online

The Scottish independence referendum is set to go to the wire, albeit with the No side still a short head in front. That appeared to be the message of no fewer than four new polls published on Sunday.

One of those polls, from ICM, actually put the Yes side well ahead by 54 per cent to 46 per cent, by far the best poll result for Yes yet. However, this poll interviewed just over 700 people – rather than the 1,000 for which pollsters usually aim. That meant it was at a greater than usual risk recording an usually high Yes or No vote simply as a result of chance.

The three others all put No ahead – but not by much. None gave it more than 54 per cent, while one suggested it stood at no more than 51 per cent. Those figures were very much in line with the message of most other polls published in the past week, only one of which had Yes (narrowly) ahead, but none of which gave No more than 53 per cent.

Between them the last half dozen polls point to an average of Yes 49 per cent, No 51 per cent. If that is correct this means that the race is incredibly tight, and we should not be surprised that some polls put Yes slightly ahead, while others say the opposite. Random fluctuation will see to that.


Still, if the race is now proving a much less comfortable affair for the pro-Union campaign than it looked to be little more than three short weeks ago, it is probably the Yes side that will feel the more anxious about the most recent poll results.

It had hoped that the remarkable swing in its favour picked up by some polls constituted a bandwagon on to which more and more voters would want to jump. However, it does look as though the Yes bandwagon has, for the time being at least, come to a halt – short of its intended destination.

Most recent polls have suggested that one in 10 Scots have yet to come to a decision. But there are probably as many again who might yet be willing to change their minds. It is in their hands that Scotland’s future now rests.

John Curtice is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University