A Caledonian Prediction

The eve-of-voting polls are remarkably consistent pointing to 48-52, with 5-10% undecided, in favour of no, so this is going to be the baseline of my prediction prediction. But the pollsters are not at all confident of their weighting methodology.

  • ‘Don’t knows’ typically break for the status quo in such referendums. 
  • There are an unusually large number of people refusing to talk to pollsters. If these break one way or the other, this can make a mockery of polling.
  • One side is much noisier and more enthused than the other and there has been intimidation. This can lead to an under-reporting of one side
  • There are a lot of people who’re voting for the first time and for whom no previous elections can be used to compare.
So, as a keen amateur psephologist, I thought I’d have a go at a prediction taking into account the factors above.
  1. Baseline 48-52 for ‘No’.
  2. Don’t knows at 5% breaking 2-1 for ‘No’ gives 47 1/4% to 52 3/4% for no.
  3. It’s simply impossible to know how the Silent voters will vote, but in my experience as a teller, they tend to be older, male, and well educated. Older lean ‘no’, male leans ‘yes’ and education is a weak predictor of ‘no’.
  4. I suspect ‘No’ voters are less likely to take part in online surveys, and be keener to avoid letting on they vote no, for fear of Nationalist flash mobs. I suspect there is a shy ‘no’ vote nudging it a couple of percent, or possibly more.
  5. First time voters, and newly registered voters are likely to be under weighted in pollsters methodology, especially if the turnout is very high. It may be this is sufficient to outweigh the ‘shy nos’.
Given the above my SWAG (scientific wild-arsed guess) is No 53% Yes 47%. I’d be more surprised by a ‘Yes’ than I would by a bigger ‘No’ win. I think most Scots, even some who voted ‘Yes’ will be relieved by a ‘No’ vote.
4 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Ah polls…..
    I did a telephone poll on Tuesday on the GE 2015.
    It was from one of the main pollsters.

    Roughly from memory.
    Which party will you be most likely to vote for at the 2015 GE.

    Which one would make the best prime minister.

    Get it?

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Well, we got there, but there is a lot of work to do before the Yes campaign are finished.

    At the GE, assuming the 45% vote SNP – which they will – we will end up with a lot of SNP MPs. They can probably do limited damage: Northern Ireland has returned Sinn Fein MPs for decades, to zero constitutional effect.

    At the Scottish elections, 45% is pretty much what the SNP got last time round, but it was a fluke that got them a majority. If they repeat that, and they'll certainly try to leverage their undoubted GE momentum in the cause, they'll say it's a mandate for another referendum. And lo, it's groundhog day, except they start with 45%, not the high thirties like they had in 2011.

    As much as it pains me to say it, only Labour – and perhaps more specifically only Jim Murphy or Gordon Brown – can stop this. And they can only stop it if there is a modern and fair setup for devolution, which only the Coalition can deliver, and they need to deliver it now.



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