YouGov have so far been amongst the more conservative of the pollsters so far as its estimate of the Yes vote is concerned. Since September, most of its polls have put the Yes vote at between 38 and 40 per cent (once Don’t Knows were excluded). Its estimate of the degree to which the No lead had narrowed since the publication of the White Paper was one of the smallest.
So while it may be modest, the increase in the Yes vote registered in the company’s latest poll today for The Times is still notable. It puts Yes on 37%, up two points on its previous poll a month ago. No are on 52%, down one point.
Once the Don’t Knows are excluded this equates to a 42% Yes vote. This is the largest Yes vote yet to have been recorded by YouGov.
All in all, some ten polls have been published since the currency intervention. With today’s poll, these now include at least one from every company polling regularly during the campaign.
On average these have put the Yes side on 43%, up two points on the equivalent statistic for all those polls conducted between the beginning of January and the currency intervention. Between them they represent the best sequence of results for the Yes side yet.
It has long been apparent that the currency intervention had not produced any boost for the No side. It is now beginning to look as though the last six weeks may, if anything, have seen the Yes side catch up a little further.
Certainly today’s poll confirms the message of last Sunday’s ICM poll that it is the Yes side rather than No that has been making some progress so far as the economic debate is concerned. Now 30% say that Scotland would be better off economically under independence, up four points on when the question was last asked in December.
The proportion who say the country would be worse off has fallen from 48% to 45%. Still, such figures indicate that the Yes side still has to convince a lot more people of its economic case than it has managed so far.
Moreover, persuading people that they individually might be better off as opposed to the country as a whole is proving more difficult. Just 19% believe they would be, while 39% reckon they would be worse off.
Previous Scottish Social Attitudes research has suggested that a majority would support independence if they thought they would be £500 a year better off, but we are clearly still a long way away from the position where most people think that would be the case.
Today’s poll also underlines why the debate about more devolution is proving to be a significant talking point in the Scottish party conference season. Asked how they would vote if invited to choose between independence, more devolution and the status quo, 36% of all voters – including no less than 50% of No supporters and 45% of those who are undecided – say they would most prefer more devolution. The issue may not be on the ballot paper, but it seems set to continue to be an important part of the referendum debate.