Depending on which opinion poll you believe, the number of Scots who haven’t yet made up their minds which way to vote in the independence referendum is anywhere between about 11% and 33%.
That’s a pretty wide range, and when we were pondering our latest Panelbase survey we thought it’d be intriguing to probe the Don’t Know demographic a little more deeply.
So, stealthy as a ninja, we slipped a cheeky wee conditional in after we asked the referendum question – the people who answered “Don’t Know” got a follow-up asking them whereabouts on the uncertainty spectrum they stood.
Q: You answered “Don’t know”. Although you haven’t yet made up your mind, would you say you were currently leaning more in one direction than the other?
I’m absolutely undecided: 34%
I’m leaning slightly towards Yes: 29%
I’m leaning slightly towards No: 25%
I’m leaning quite strongly towards Yes: 10%
I’m leaning quite strongly towards No: 2%
Now, only 14% of our respondents had answered “Don’t know” in the first place, so these numbers are quite a small sample (<170). Nevertheless, it’s quite interesting that only a third of the undecideds weren’t leaning one way or the other.
The combined total leaning Yes-wards (39%) was a fair bit higher than that edging towards No (27%), and the number who were “quite strongly” Yes was five times the size of the corresponding No group.
Again, we must emphasise that this was quite a small sample, so breaking it down in any more detail won’t tell us anything very reliable. But if we add them back into the main headline stats and, JUST FOR A BIT OF NON-SCIENTIFIC FUN, imagined that the two camps turned all those currently leaning their way into definite votes, it’d change the Yes/No balance to a spinetingling Yes 49% No 51%.
(That’s excluding what we might call the “hardcore” Don’t Knows, the 34% in the table above. If we leave them in, it’s Yes 46% No 48% DK 6%.)
In case we haven’t laboured the point enough yet, this is all a purely speculative and illustrative calculation. It doesn’t factor in likeliness to vote (which would make the figures 48-52), and you can’t actually assume that someone who’s slightly leaning one way will go that way in the end. It’s just a picture of what’s possible.