Welcome to the What Scotland Thinks website

As Scotland decides how it is going to vote in the independence referendum on 18 September next year, the site brings together all the key polling and survey evidence on how the Scottish public thinks their country should be governed.

The website features key headline figures from all the recent polls and surveys of Scottish opinion on the subject – and some information on what the rest of the UK thinks too. These figures are displayed as interactive, easy to understand graphs and will be continually updated as new polls and surveys are published.

In August we will also be uploading more detailed data from the Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey so you can easily explore for yourself in detail who supports and opposes independence and why. Each year since the advent of devolution in 1999, SSA has charted what Scotland thinks about how it is governed. It is by far the richest and deepest source of information on long-term trends in public attitudes towards Scotland’s future.

At the same time you will find commentary – both on individual new polls as they are published and periodically on some of the longer term trends that seem to be shaping how voters are deciding. The first two guest posts are a blog by Rachel Ormston on why women are less likely to support independence, and Jan Elchhorn on his research into young people’s views on Scottish independence.

Of course you may not agree with the interpretations we offer. We hope that, nevertheless, you will find them informative, perhaps even stimulating.  We provide a space for registered users of the site to provide their own comments and insight too.

We are strictly neutral in the independence debate. We do not support one side or the other. All our commentaries will reflect the author’s understanding of what Scotland does think – and not any preferences they might have about what we would like it to think. Not that that will stop us occasionally providing some free, friendly advice – to both sides!

So why have we launched this site? After all these days most polling companies belong to the British Polling Council and put full details of all their individual polls on their web sites – and indeed you will find links these details here. But are you curious as to whether a particular question was asked before? Or what the trend is across all polls that have asked people how they will vote in the referendum? Ever wondered what difference the way a poll or survey has been conducted might have affected its results?

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to find out the answers to questions such as these for yourself. Meanwhile although hitherto academics have been able freely to analyse SSA data for themselves, it has not been possible for anyone else to do so.

During the campaign we will hear countless claim from both sides that the polls are pointing in their direction.  They can never both be right – and we believe you have the right to decide for yourself what the polls suggest Scotland is thinking.

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About the author

John Curtice is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, Senior Research Fellow at ScotCen, and Chief Commentator on the What Scotland Thinks website.