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Support for independence bounces back

The latest Ipsos MORI Scottish Public Opinion Monitor for the Times shows an increase in support for independence.

In answering the question recommended by the Electoral Commission, "Should Scotland be an independent country?", 34% of those certain to vote in the referendum said they would vote ‘Yes’. This is an increase of four percentage points since October 2012 and bucks recent trends which showed support for independence declining throughout 2012 (from 39% in January 2012 to 30% in October 2012).

Just over half of Scots voters say they would vote ‘No’ in the referendum (55%), down three points since October. One in ten Scots remain undecided (11%), down one point since October.

The poll reveals a considerable surge in support for independence among young people – 58% of 18-24 year olds now say they will vote ‘Yes’, more than double the 27% recorded in October 2012. High levels of support for independence are also found amongst those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas (43%) and men (41%). Meanwhile, support for the Union remains highest among those living in Scotland’s more affluent areas (65%), women (61%) and those aged 55 and over (61%).

 
Scottish Parliament voting intention


The SNP has increased its lead over Labour in Holyrood voting intentions to eight points. Among those certain to vote, 43% would back the SNP in an immediate Scottish Parliament election, an increase of three points since October, while Labour remains on 35% (no change). This is a reversal of recent trends which saw Labour close the gap to five points in October 2012, having been 25 points behind the Nationalists at the end of 2011.

There is also no change for the Conservatives, who remain on 13%, while the Liberal Democrats drop one point to 7%.

Perceptions of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaign leaders

The Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has recently been given a more prominent role in the pro-independence campaign. Half of Scots are satisfied with her performance (50%) while around a third are dissatisfied (33%), giving her a net satisfaction score of +17% (the proportion of those satisfied minus the proportion of those dissatisfied).

This is considerably higher than the rating for Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-union ‘Better Together’ campaign. Around a third of Scots are satisfied with his performance (33%), while a similar proportion are dissatisfied (32%), giving the former Chancellor a net satisfaction rating of +1%. In addition, 35% of Scots feel unable to rate his performance as leader of the Better Together campaign, double the 17% who are unable to rate Nicola Sturgeon.

The poll also reveals a considerable difference in satisfaction ratings of the two leaders among supporters of their respective campaigns. Nicola Sturgeon’s net satisfaction rating among ‘Yes’ voters is +57% , while Alistair Darling’s rating is +15% among ‘No’ voters.

Perceptions of party leaders

Alex Salmond remains the most popular of the main party leaders in Scotland, with half of Scots satisfied with his performance (50%) compared with 43% who are dissatisfied. The Satisfaction with the First Minister has remained at or above 50% for the last eighteen months. However, Mr Salmond’s net satisfaction rating continues to fall and is now +7%, down from +35% in December 2011.

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont continues to improve her profile among Scots – 39% of Scots are satisfied with her performance, compared with 31% who are dissatisfied. This gives her a net satisfaction rating of +8%, which has increased by three points since October and is now higher than the first Minister’s. However, just under a third of Scots feel as though they do not know enough about the Labour leader to rate her performance (31%), a figure which has changed very little since June 2012.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, now has a net satisfaction rating of -4%, up five points since October, while Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie remains on -7% (no change).

Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie has a net satisfaction rating of +13%, although a majority of Scots are unable to rate his performance (56%).

Finally, two thirds of Scots are dissatisfied with the way David Cameron is doing his job as Prime Minister (67%), compared to just over a quarter who are satisfied (26%), giving him a net satisfaction rating of -40%.

Mark Diffley, Director at Ipsos MORI Scotland said:

“Our latest poll shows a boost in support for those campaigning for Scottish independence, who will take some encouragement from these findings. Having said that, support for independence is behind where it was a year ago and those campaigning for Scotland to remain in the UK retain a sizeable lead. The campaigns are entering new phases with a greater emphasis on the issues of substance that will be key in deciding the outcome of next year’s vote. With this in mind, this poll provides detail on where the two campaigns are strongest and weakest, allowing them to see where they need to concentrate their efforts.”

Click here to download the charts (PDF)
Click here to download the topline results (PDF)
Click here to download the data tables (PDF)

Technical details:

  • This presents the topline results from Scotland 
  • Results are based on a survey of 1,003 respondents (adults aged 18+) conducted by telephone
  • Fieldwork dates: 4th February – 9th February 2013 
  • Data are weight by: age, sex and working status using census data; tenure using SHS data; and public-private sector employment using Scottish Government Quarterly Public Sector Employment series data
  • Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don’t know” categories
  • Results are based on all respondents (1,003) unless otherwise stated
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Christopher McLean
Christopher McLean

Senior Research Executive

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Mark Diffley
Mark Diffley

Research Director

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