Scottish Independence polling analysis: Is Yes' ten point lead a new normal or an outlier?

IpsosMori’s latest poll looking at Scottish independence is the first significant lead for the Yes campaign since the election, but away from the bluster of SNP politicians, what does it actually tell us?

For the Yes campaign, a 10-point lead over the pro-union campaign is a much-needed reprieve from the generally stagnant and crucially pro-union trend of the post-election period.

It comes as no surprise it was brought up ad nauseum in the Holyrood chamber on Wednesday by pro-independence MSPs, and the numbers will offer a boost to the SNP whose conference at the weekend was a damp squib.

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Scottish Independence polling: Pro-independence surge with clear Yes lead in new...
The most recent poll suggested a Yes surgeThe most recent poll suggested a Yes surge
The most recent poll suggested a Yes surge

Senior figures in the party will also be pleased to see the jump in support for their cause after several weeks of intense pressure on Boris Johnson around sleaze and the first major piece of campaigning on independence, with the one million free papers sent to voters, since before the pandemic.

However, in polling, it is the trend rather than the headline figures that is key, and this survey has the distinct whiff of an outlier.

First of all, the 52 per cent of voters backing Yes is one of the all-time record highs and is the equal second-highest ever for a Yes lead with undecideds included.

Secondly, the number of undecided voters in this poll is extremely low compared to the average seen across recent polls.

Usually a poll asking the independence question will see around seven to 10 per cent of voters saying they are undecided.

In this poll, that percentage is the joint-lowest since an IpsosMori poll in November 2019 at just 4 per cent.

Some experts such as Professor Rob Johns, a professor of politics at the University of Essex, have also pointed at a high retention rate of 2014 Yes voters, with 93 per cent stating they would back Yes again, and a remarkable 73 per cent of 2014 non-voters backing the pro-independence cause.

If these trends continue in future polls, in particular the dominance around non-voters and a low number of undecided voters, then the SNP can potentially begin to rub their hands with glee.

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Until then, if it feels like an outlier, looks like an outlier, and reads like an outlier, it is probably an outlier.

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