We didn’t just go for big blockbuster revelations with our Panelbase poll. We thought it’d also be interesting to delve a little deeper into voters’ party affiliations, since the referendum isn’t a party political issue (despite the determined attempts of the No camp to make it all about the SNP rather than independence).
Given the gulf between how Scotland votes in Westminster elections and Holyrood ones, we were particularly curious to find out to what degree the constitution was colouring party loyalties, one way or another. Here’s what we discovered.
Q: If you currently know how you plan to vote in the referendum, how does that intention compare to the official position of the party you voted for in the WESTMINSTER general election of 2010?
(ie Yes for SNP/Green/SSP, No for Labour/Lib Dem/Conservative.)
I plan to vote Yes and the party I supported backs a Yes vote: 27%
I plan to vote Yes but the party I supported backs a No vote: 7%
I plan to vote No but the party I supported backs a Yes vote: 7%
I plan to vote No and the party I supported backs a No vote: 29%
I don’t know which way I’ll vote in the referendum: 30%
Now that’s a whole big heap of interesting. This was as close as we came in the poll to directly asking people the referendum question (as Panelbase had asked it for the Sunday Times just a week before, we didn’t see any point in repeating the exercise), and it shows an almost even split of Yes and No – 34% to 36% – with an unusually high number of Don’t Knows.
(Which divide quite intriguingly – Tory and Green numbers are too small to be useful, but 35% of Labour voters, 30% of Lib Dems and 20% of SNP ticked “Don’t Know”.)
That may be because it’s a more complicated question, or because it excludes people who didn’t vote in the general election but might vote in the referendum, or for other reasons. But most polls before now have shown a greater percentage of SNP voters intending to vote No than Labour, Lib Dem or Tories planning to vote Yes, and it’s fascinating that when we asked the question in a specifically party context the numbers were neck and neck at 7% each.
The breakdown of “disloyal” voters came out like this:
Lib Dem: 11%
(Greens/others excluded as their numbers responding to this question were microscopic – just nine people, compared to over 800 for the other parties.)
It is, however, yet more evidence supporting the growing realisation that a non-trivial proportion of, how shall we put this, Labour voters are For Independence (or at the very least not willing to back their party’s kneejerk No stance).
Our next question tackled another side of the subject:
Q8: There will be a SCOTTISH Parliament election in 2016 regardless of the outcome of the referendum. Thinking about how you are CURRENTLY most likely to vote in that election, might your voting intention change depending on whether Scotland was independent or not?
My current intention might change if there is a Yes vote in the referendum: 20%
My current intention might change if there is a No vote in the referendum: 5%
I do not think my current voting intention will change: 53%
Don’t know: 22%
We all know which party’s voters are most likely to change allegiance if Scotland becomes independent, right? Wrong. Bizarrely, the highest proportion of voters who told us they might switch sides in an independent Scotland were those who voted Conservative in 2011, at 25%. The SNP were, however, close behind at 24%, with Labour on 18% and the Lib Dems the most faithful at 15%.
(The total numbers of those who might change sides in the event of independence were almost an exact dead heat between the Yes and No parties.)
Frankly, we’re not sure what to make of that information. The only conclusion we can think of is that some super-hardline Unionists are voting Tory purely because they think the Conservatives the most staunch defenders of the Union. We can’t think of another reason a Scottish voter would back the Tories but think about changing their minds if Scotland was independent. (Then again, as pro-independence non-Tories we’re not the best people to ask.)
Much the same goes for the Labour and Lib Dem voters – it being, of course, fairly easy to understand why people who might not normally back the SNP would lend them their votes to achieve independence, then go back to voting for someone else.
What we CAN say is that barely half of voters are definitely committed to their current party, and independence could herald a radical realignment of Scottish politics.
A No vote, on the other hand, is far less likely to make anyone change their minds in 2016 (the actual numbers were teeny), which will come as a particular blow to Labour supporters and politicians pinning their hopes on an SNP implosion in the aftermath of a defeat. A No vote will be a vote for the status quo in more ways than one.