Voters expect the Yes campaign to do better in the independence referendum than conventional opinion polls have suggested.
An experimental question put by ICM for The Scotsman poll asked people to predict what the result would be. Pollsters said this “Wisdom” question taps into the “hive mind” of voters.
The poll of 1,004 Scots showed that, on average, voters expected the result of the vote on 18 September to be 53 per cent against independence and 47 per cent in favour.
However, asking those who have decided how they will vote a more traditional polling question, 57 per cent backed the No camp, while 43 per cent favoured independence.
Of all those polled, 49 per cent are against independence and 37 per cent in favour, marking an increase of five points in the No vote’s lead since Chancellor George Osborne, Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls and Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander ruled out allowing an independent Scotland to join a sterling currency union.
The result of the so-called “Wisdom” question on how people think the result will end up has been taken as a warning by both sides that the contest is still close.
Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: “That people seem to expect the result to be closer than they did previously should encourage everyone to take this decision seriously.
“I do not take the outcome for granted and nobody else should.”
A spokesman for the Better Together campaign, which is spearheading efforts to keep Scotland in the UK, said: “What this poll shows us is that if the people who believe that we are better and stronger as part of the UK want this issue resolved once and for all, then they have to come out and vote for it.
“If the result is close, then it will just mean that we end up in a ‘neverendum’ situation. The Nationalists may love that, but the rest of the country cannot afford to lose any more years to this debate.”
The Yes Scotland campaign pointed out that, over the past 17 polls, the potential result had been getting narrower.
Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, said: “An analysis of the polls shows that, excluding those who have yet to make up their minds, average support for Yes stands currently at 43 per cent – and given that the gap between Yes and No continues to narrow, we are confident that momentum will continue and we will deliver a majority vote for Yes in September.
“Looking at all the polls, the gap has narrowed by ten points since last November – a significant move towards Yes and a clear indicator of the direction of travel.”
He added: “The ICM poll shows clearly that we are winning the arguments and, with more than six months to go before the referendum, we believe increasing numbers of people will move to Yes as we continue to make the positive case for independence.”
Meanwhile, a separate poll yesterday found that three out of five Britons want Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
The survey of people throughout the UK found that 62 per cent wanted the Union to be preserved, with 38 per cent supporting Scottish independence.
Polling firm Vision Critical surveyed 2,060 voters between 19 and 21 February.