Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

A note on Scottish independence

September 12th, 2014, 4:06pm by Sam Wang


Next Thursday, the people of Scotland will vote on an independence referendum. What’s going to happen?

There was some excitement over a YouGov/Sunday Times survey showing the “yes” vote leading by 2%. However, that now appears to be an outlier. The most recent five surveys, all completed in the last 10 days, show a lead for No by 4.0 ± 1.3%. As of today, that means a 95% probability that the referendum would fail in an election held today.

If the decided voters hold steady, a remaining issue is how undecided voters will split. In those same five surveys, a median of 8% of voters are undecided. However, there’s no correlation between undecideds and the yes-no margin, suggesting that there isn’t a hidden pool of pro-independence voters. At present, the data point toward Scotland staying in the United Kingdom.

Tags: Politics

14 Comments so far ↓

  • Matt McIrvin

    The British media seem to be just as capable of getting unreasonably excited about single outliers as the US media. Also, of course, there’s the more or less opposite error of calling any situation within the sample-size MOE of a single poll a statistical dead heat.

  • Zathras

    “There was some excitement over a YouGov/Sunday Times survey showing the “yes” vote leading by 2%. However, that now appears to be an outlier”

    So, in other words, like the YouGov polls in the U.S.?

  • فروشگاه اینترنتی

    Thanks for this post! Scotland stays in the United Kingdom!

    • Sam Wang

      Naively, more accurate…though on the other hand, to my thinking there had better be some more polls. Those new voters seem likely to want to vote Yes.

  • Nathanael

    It was always a long shot. But it’s awfully close now, which means something in and of itself.

  • Elithrion

    Thanks for this post! I was always hoping you’d comment on more international events.

  • bks

    Fun reading about the campaign from notorious linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum:
    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=14528
    –bks

    • pechmerle

      To say that Pullum is being pedantic would be a gross understatement. Everyone easily understood that the “Better Together” campaign slogan implied “Scotland and the rest of the UK would be better off together than either would be separately.” It was deliberately general, to encompass economic, cultural, and traditional ties. This is no different than “better together” as an answer to the question, “would Elizabeth and James do better to divorce?” (To choose a couple of arbitrary names – ;-) )

      On the other hand, back in the real world, there is the striking ineptitude with which the major Westminster parties have handled the whole referendum. They seem to have assumed that No would be a no-brainer for the Scots, which has led many Scots to feel patronized, probably accounting for a significant share of the Yes sentiment this summer.

      I happened to visit Scotland and N.E. England last summer, and was struck by some individual reactions. (It was very early on then, of course, and few people were actively exercised about the issue then.) A Scot householder I met was adamant that Westminster exploits Scotland. But then an upper middle-class Londoner I met at a B&B in Yorkshire was equally adamant that the Scots were beneficiaries of massive subsidies from the center, and by all means let the spongers try it on their own.

      The various leaderships are certainly right about one thing now. Whichever way the vote goes, there will be changes in the relationship between the Scots and the parliament at Westminster.

  • borderpeaks

    I’m a member of the Cameron Clan but not allowed to vote being born in the USA. I only can hope the polls are wrong.

  • ArcticStones

    Thanks for weighing in on this, Sam.
    I’ve been meaning to ask your opinion.

  • AThornton

    ICM on-line poll released tonight has Yes 54% (+9)
    No 46% (-9), 705, MOE 3.7.

    All I can find is the normal Fluff-n-Stuff, nothing about the internals, procedure, etc.