YES voters more likely to cast ballot in referendum

1st May 2014

New analysis of Scottish Social Attitudes suggests voter participation may be key to campaign victory.

New analysis of ScotCen’s Scottish Social Attitudes survey published today on whatscotlandthinks.org reveals that those who support Scottish independence are more likely to say they will vote in September than are those who do not. The difference in willingness to vote could add as much as 2 points to the Yes side’s share of the vote. Given the now much narrower gap between the two sides this difference could prove crucial to the final outcome.

The survey, conducted by ScotCen’s researchers between June and October last year, shows that those who will definitely vote Yes are 4 points more likely than those who will vote No to say there is a better than evens chance that they will make it to the polls.

This difference increases to 7 points when voters who have not definitely decided but are leaning towards either a Yes or a No vote are included. Those leaning towards a No vote are 19 points less likely than their Yes counterparts to say they are likely to vote.

Others findings that provide insight into the likely pattern of turnout include:

  • Men (85%) are slightly more likely than women (78%) to say that there is more than an evens chance that they will vote
  • Only 70% of younger voters (45 and below) say they are likely to vote, compared with 90% of those over 45
  • Only 43% of those who do not support any party are likely to vote
  • Just 37% of those who say they have no interest at all in politics say they are likely to vote, compared with 96% of those who say they have ‘a great deal’ of interest in politics.

Dr. Jan Eichhorn, Research Fellow at Edinburgh University commented: “While the overall turnout in the referendum is expected to be high, around 70%- 80%, there could still be a higher turnout amongst Yes than amongst No supporters. In a tight race this could be crucial.” 

John Curtice, Research Consultant at ScotCen said: “The proportion of those who say they are likely to vote has increased as the campaigns have developed. Far from putting people off the campaigns are resonating with the public. But both campaigns evidently still need to make sure their supporters participate in the referendum come polling day.”               

The 2013 SSA asked 1,497 people to report their likelihood of voting on an 11-point scale ranging from 0 to 10, where 0 meant “certain not to vote” and 10 meant “certain to vote”.  In our analysis we compare those whose reported probability of voting is greater than 50% (that is between 6 and 10) with those whose probability is no greater than 50% (i.e., 0-5).

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Coree Brown Swan's picture
University of Edinburgh
1st May 2014
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