More unknown intentions than the media suggest
Weather on the day may prove decisive
All things being equal, No camp will win
If Alex Salmond makes the right appeal to family rearers in Scotland over the next two days, he can still win. But overall, the odds are stacked against him. The Slog extrapolates from the recent poll data in order to reach a verdict.
Over the last 24 hours, I’ve looked at the tables (where available) on five of the most recent Indyref polls. I did this because it seemed to me there is a dearth of knowledge about the “ten per cent” of Don’t Knows: but in the end, other significant points emerged that, I suspect, both sides have missed. The obvious health warning here is the danger of comparing apples with pears, doric columns and washing up liquid. But experience and gut has been applied to that, and I’m reasonably confident about the consistency of the evidence below.
First up, the Don’t Know 10% is something of a mythical figure. Some polls have it as high as 17%, and all the media have failed to report that a further 3% refused to answer the specific question.
The older more conservative person is more likely to refuse that question. They tend to be No voters. And No voters are less likely to change their minds.
Second, the biggest Don’t Know group is 35-54 year olds. This group tends to consist of family rearers with others to think about rather than just themselves. Scaremongering about potential economic disaster if the Yes camp wins would, in theory, be effective among this group. Also…
Third, women are far more likely to vote No, men to vote Yes. If the Yes campaign were to go hard in the last few days on the emotional importance of children growing up to be truly independent (men) and the SNP record of protecting services come what may (women) the chances are it would be highly effective amongst those family formers who probably feel they have the most to lose.
Salmond himself seems to have understood this intuitively with his accent on Scotland’s future in the manifesto. I suspect this is what has swung the vote his way in recent weeks. He needs to hammer away at this – and on more than just the fiscal arguments. Promises on jobs – and stress laid on destiny being about more than money – should be the SNP leader’s core message.
Fourth, the Yes vote is biased younger – that is, to 16-40(ish). The over 60s are, by and large, pretty solidly No: their age (and No-vote tendency to be sure) makes them an unlikely group to persuade at this late stage. The core group the Yes camp really must reassure, I would suggest, is the 40-55 male vote.
Fifth, Yes voters are more likely to be middle class. Much of the Yes enthusiasm comes from the ordinary Sassenach-hating Scot, rather than the professional folks from Kelvinside. Two things to note here:
i. David Cameron is I understand planning to head North again to make more pleas during the last two days. If he does so, my judgement based on the data is that he will boost the Yes vote.
ii. Downmarket voters are less likely to turn out – and far less likely to turn out in bad weather. The weather forecast for most of Scotland this coming Thursday is RAIN. This is bound to favour the No campaign.
So, if both sides ignore all this stuff, I would predict a majority for No.
(a) Cameron turns up and says something truly insensitive and/or glib
(b) Salmond focuses on the future for Scottish children and his track record on social care, and
(c) The Yes camp works very hard on the ground to provide transport for its supporters
then the Yes vote could still shade it.
The result lies, I think, far more in Alex Salmond’s hands now than those of the naysayers.