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Daily catch-up: polls in Scotland closing slowly, then fast and now what?

The state of the race in Scotland and a few other things that caught our political columnist's eye

John Rentoul
Friday 12 September 2014 08:48 BST

1. Thanks to numbers whizz Ben Stanley for putting together this graph, with trend lines and 95 per cent confidence ranges, for Yes vote (blue) and No vote (red) in Scottish opinion polls since February last year.

2. The graph includes the new YouGov poll last night, which put Yes on 48 per cent. This has been greeted widely as a swing back to No, after YouGov on Sunday put Yes on 51 per cent. Lots of speculation about how the great panic-driven rush of leaders to Scotland has checked the nationalists' advance and prompted Scottish voters to think again.

This is over-interpreting. A three-point change is indistinguishable from random error. The new YouGov poll is right in between the 47 per cent Yes from Survation on Wednesday and the 49 per cent Yes from TNS (if you include the squeeze question) on Tuesday.

The Yes vote has gained ground in recent weeks, as you can see, but it is not yet clear whether that is continuing. As I said yesterday, it is easy to read "momentum" into numbers that just isn't there. What is clear is that the pollsters are now producing results that are similar to each other, which they were not earlier in the campaign (the dots were more widely spread). If the recent polls are right, the result could go either way. For those of us who want Scotland to stay in the UK, it is worrying, but at least there is hope.

3. And at least one Twitter commentator is rueful. Rupert Murdoch said:

"New poll disappointing for Salmond, but not a big deal. Still all to play for. But AS had a bad day, promising membership of the EU."

4. Cashless payments encourage people to spend more, says Cass Sunstein, Professor Nudge. Apple's plan to move payments from cards to phones may have the same effect.

5. This is no compensation for me: apparently we have all got a free U2 album on our iTunes. Simon Mayo commented on the radio yesterday (thanks to Charles Arthur):

"This U2 track's so old, people had to pay for it."

6. Finally, thanks to Damien Owens for this:

‏"‘Take plenty of fluids and get some rest’ is the doctor equivalent of ‘Switch it off and switch it back on again’."

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