Canadian voter contact firm First Contact had been called in to conduct opinion polling, with analysis of their findings by academics suggesting a victory for the Yes campaign by 54 per cent to 46 per cent, the Daily Record reports.
The internal polling led the SNP hierarchy to believe a shock victory was on the cards, and were confident of succeeding in their bid for independence until the first authorities began declaring results.
The Nationalists were thought to have a highly-sophisticated data-modelling system prior to the vote, with First Contact even going so far as to reveal their predictions to the media in Canada before the votes had been counted.
Mike O’Neill told the Toronto Star: “I believe [the Yes camp] are going to win. I feel pretty confident.”
According to the Record, the Yes campaign contacted a number of journalists around 10pm on Thursday with details of a planned victory speech by First Minister Alex Salmond.
The SNP leader announced his intention to step down the following day after failing to secure a win in the historic vote, which saw the highest turnout since the 1950s.
A senior SNP source told the Record: “The turnout was so high that it was very unpredictable but we really did believe we had done enough for victory. The numbers we were getting back from the pollsters were excellent.”
The source admitted that the pro-independence camp ‘thought they had done it’ at the start of the night, adding: “It quickly became clear as the votes were counted that something had gone wrong.”
The final tallies showed Scotland rejected independence by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.