The Yes camp is closing the gap. That is the clear message from two new opinion polls published this morning.
Both polls – ICM for Scotland on Sunday and Panelbase for the Sunday Herald – show that the undecideds are, at last, starting to make up their minds. But in doing so, the undecideds are going to Yes in greater numbers than they are to No.
That trend is clear, it is helping Yes to close the gap but it has not, as yet, given Yes anything like the support it needs to win the referendum in a month’s time. In the ICM poll, the undecideds are down from 21 per cent in July to just 14 per cent now.
That change has boosted the No camp by two percentage points, from 45 per cent to 47 per cent, but increased the Yes vote by four points, from 34 per cent to 38 per cent.
In total, the figures are: Yes 38 per cent, No 47 per cent, don’t know 14 per cent. If the undecideds are taken out, the overall figures are Yes 45 per cent (up two) and No 55 per cent (down two).
There is clearly movement here but, with a month to go, Yes Scotland managers will be hoping this trend will increase over the next couple of weeks to give them any chance of winning.
The Panelbase pollsters found Yes on 42 per cent, No on 46 per cent with 12 per cent undecided. When the don’t knows were excluded, the figures were Yes 48 per cent, No 52 per cent – a much, much tighter gap than that found by ICM. The last Panelbase poll, at the end of July, found Yes 46 per cent and No 54 per cent, a gap of eight points, which has been cut in half in the last month.
Panelbase also asked specific questions about the NHS and the Sunday Herald concluded that Alex Salmond’s long-term problem of winning over the female vote could be solved if he managed to persuade them that the NHS would only be saved by independence. Yes Scotland rhetoric started hammering away at the NHS at the end of last week so we can probably expect much more of that in the days and weeks to come.
So, here we have two polls, one giving the No camp a ten point lead and the other giving No a four point lead. It means that the referendum is still there to be won by either side but it also confirms the No camp’s position in the lead – where it has been all campaign.
If the undecideds keep moving to Yes in greater numbers than to No over the next four weeks, then the result is going to be tighter than many in the No camp would like. But it remains the case that the No camp has never been behind in this campaign and it is unlikely to lose its lead unless something happens to change the dynamics of the campaign.