‘Just one poll’


From Norm M

I’ve been reflecting on why I enjoy this blog and the work the Prof (Ed: I’m only a ‘vessel’for the ideas of Noam…..not Norm!) is leading through it. It can be summed up in its name: Talking Up Scotland. There is so much media openly hostile to independence, no more than ever has it been important for there to be outlets where we can highlight the positives (and throw honest un-spun light on the negatives).

One of the things that contributed to this reflection is chatter elsewhere about the minutiae of opinion polls. In this area I think there is a bit of need of a ‘talking up Scotland’ approach keeping in mind the big picture. Firstly an important disclaimer, I’m not a pollster or psephologist, but neither are the absolute majority of us. 

What do individual opinion poll results actually show us? They show us how a subset of people responded to a specific set of questions within a specific time period. On their own, they can give clues to what others think but, on their own they are not absolute proof. That’s where the phrase or logic behind “it’s just one poll” comes from. 

So why bother? Well, where opinion polling is useful is when questions are asked in a repeated manner over time, you can see trends. In cases where there is significantly consistent polling you can look at demographics (or other information collected) to analyse any trends. Opinion polls on their own aren’t able to explain the reasoning by any trends, as this usually requires more intensive research.

So let’s look at one aspect of opinion polling that contains consistent questions over a long period of time regarding independence.

Plotted on the graph above is the result (in dots) of every opinion poll on Scottish independence from October 2014 (as listed and referenced on Wikipedia). The trend lines are polynomial to a degree of 6, and made automatically in Google Sheets.

What does it show us? Since 2018 there has been an upward trend in support for independence, and a downward trend in support for staying part of the UK. That doesn’t mean that the independence is in the bag (or even that the SNP are a shoe-in for success in May), but it shows us a lot more about what people in Scotland are thinking about politics than sporadic opinion polling on hypothetical situations.

11 thoughts on “‘Just one poll’

  1. I think the battle is lost….the BBC just have confirmed in their headline story that vaccination letters to the over 70s will go out in white envelopes not blue.

    We will never recover from this to gain Independence!

    Liked by 8 people

  2. There is a distinct trend.
    UK Prime Ministers in the past, viewed Scotland as part of “their country”, visit, campaign, talk to us.
    That has not been the case for many years. I dont know when it happened–perhaps Thatcher was first, with her sneering attitude to Scots, but happen it did.
    When was the last Prime Minister you remember who seems at ease in Scotland?
    Not Blair.
    Brown referred to “North Britain”.
    Not Cameron, very much an Englishman is spite of his ancestry.
    How about May? She never spoke to Scots, if she could avoid it, on her very few visits.
    Ditto Boris, who dislikes us intensely, and mainly goes to military bases while here. He promised the US Tariffs would be gone, more than a year ago. He promises fishermen an El Dorado. Jealous of Sturgeons popularity, he sneered at her as a “wee Jimmy Krankie”. Very Prime Ministerial.
    The more uncomfortable they seem in Scotland, the less Scots will feel able to vote for them.
    And then there is EVEL, which means it is really impossible for an MP elected from outside England to ever be PM, Home Secretary or Chancellor. What kind of Union is that?

    Liked by 7 people

  3. I volunteered for YouGov polls just to see how they operate. I sometimes commission surveys for clients in my day job so I know something about sampling, questionnaire design etc. It was very interesting. They ask for a lot of information up front about voting habits, newspapers read, house ownership, age etc.etc. They then tailor the surveys you get to what you tell them and most of what I got was surveys about consumers goods and which ones I would be likely to buy with maybe one or two opinion questions at the end, in spite of my repeatedly telling them that I wanted to respond to political opinion surveys. All too easy for them, given the information they hold, to tailor the survey to get the results they want rather than proper structured, random sampling. And as for the questionnaire design, don’t get me started!


    1. Lindsey
      What else do you expect other than they loading the dice to suit there real objectives
      Tis referred to as In Built Bias


  4. Also bear in mind that some polls fail to ask the standard question, or omit 16-17 year olds, which flagrantly benefits Naw. A couple of charts showing the legit polls:


    1. In order for the NO side to regain the advantage the pollsters should find a way to communicating with all those who have died
      Since 2014
      Otherwise their chances are ZERO


  5. Also consider the default option from Westminster / English PM.

    19th Sep 2014 – EVEL (kick them in the teeth while they’re down)

    18th April 2017 – Theresa calls snap election. Indy polling was roughly 40% Aye, 50% Naw 10% DK. (Scots Indy on the wane, there’s SNP seats in Scotland to grab, and grab some they did). However, the election results didn’t work out for her.

    The TM and BJ election calls despite the fixed term Parliament is another example of Westminster PMs’ perfidy. They have the top job in UK politics, but want to push further. Even when Westminster changes to suit the people, they break the rules to suit themselves. Even when they’re winning it’s not enough. They have to go further (EVEL). Even the rich have to get richer. A booming, low tax UK wasn’t enough. Brexit had to go further, and avoid even more taxes.

    When having it all isn’t enough, wreck others’ lives.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.