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How undecided is undecided?

Posted on April 08, 2014 by

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:ย You answered โ€œDon’t knowโ€. 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.

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    64 to “How undecided is undecided?”

    1. Desimond says:

      Nice “Making Your mind Up” Reference there, for a second I feared a Genesis “Land of Confusion” link!

    2. Gizzit says:

      The more the unbridled lunacy of the Unionist camp is reported, analysed and debunked, the more the Yes vote will solidify.

      Already, the nonsense is apparent, and the closer we get to the vote, the more strident and hysterical the No campaign will become.

    3. Thomas William Dunlop says:

      No let up until the Crack of Doom falls on the 18th of September. By that time we have added another 5 to 10 % YES and be comfortably across the Finishing line.

    4. Juteman says:

      I wish someone would ask, ‘should countries govern themselves?’

    5. Doug Daniel says:

      I suspect a significant number of people will swither and dither all the way up to the referendum, and then just go with their gut feeling. Unionists are assuming that people will only vote Yes if they’re 100% certain, hence the “oooh it’s all so dreadfully uncertain!!!!” rubbish; but I suspect as squeaky bum time approaches, people’s minds will focus on the matter at hand, and they’ll realise expecting 100% certainty in anything in life is unrealistic.

      I also suspect if someone isn’t at least swaying towards No by now, then they’re not going to be in September. If you’re completely undecided at this point, you obviously realise something is rotten in the state of the UK.

    6. Chick Addison says:

      Perhaps we can nudge a few more in our direction with a natty t-shirt saying “George says vote Yes to please the forces of darkness”!Should win us the Goth vote ๐Ÿ˜‰

      These follow up questions are delivering some very interesting results. Good work Rev.

    7. Grouse Beater says:

      Disinformation, black propaganda and obfuscation will continue to be the No camp’s preferred method of inculcation right up to Referendum day, a case of telling us, the public, what to think rather than have us make a considered choice.

    8. An Greumach says:

      An interesting read as always

    9. stonefree says:

      Maybe the undecided should just follow their heart, and forget about their head , because that’s what is confusing them
      A bit too hippyish?

    10. jake says:


      that question would make a great bill board poster!

      Meantime here are some interesting thoughts on the irrational and/or undecided voter:

    11. Anne Lawrie says:

      I feel that sometimes issues unrelated to the referendum debate can sway the undecided vote. I’m sure Maria Miller’s expenses scandal has gained us many “yes” votes. We only need someone to behave disgracefully just before the referendum to ensure victory. Equally, all the Yes campaigners must behave impeccably – difficult I know, when faced with severe provocation!

    12. Steve Bowers says:

      these numbers can’t be right Rev, I’m predicting 74% YES so go sort out your figures, heh heh heh

    13. James Kelly says:

      “But if we add them back into the main headline stats and, JUST FOR A BIT OF NON-SCIENTIFIC FUN…”

      I don’t think it’s all that unscientific, as long as strong caveats are put on it. ICM have included a similar calculation in the datasets for their recent polls, so they obviously think it tells us something important.

    14. galamcennalath says:

      So the don’t knows are maybe-Yes 39%, maybe-No 27%, totally-DK 34%

      To extrapilate a little further!

      If the totally-DK 34% split like the other don’t knows it would take us close to 1% overall difference!

      Even more spinetingling!

      Some good things will come to the fore over the next few months:

      i) A draft constitution which will concentrate minds on what real democracy is all about.

      ii) More discussion on getting rid of WMDs, which the Unionist expect us to keep.

      iii) As has previously happened, the ‘gender gap’ will close as the voting day approaches.

    15. Chris Cairns says:

      While a hopeless romantic and optimist at heart, I have one nagging concern about the DKs. In my experience, a fair number are Annoyed DKs – folk who are so anti-politics that they are already pissed off at the amount of coverage and chat going on about the indyref (and they ain’t seen nothing yet).
      I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see those types ending up siding with No simply because they will blame the SNP/Scottish Govt/Yes side for starting all this “nonsense” in the first place.
      The (specious) argument that the indyref is a distraction from the real business of government is already a well worn one among the unionist parties.

    16. Desimond says:

      @Chick Addison

      Theres a Star Wars style Forces of Darkness gag in there somewhere with Lord George aka Darth Labour surveying a wasteland Scotland and saying “look…I am your father!”

      Darth Labour!..I happily share copyright with all of Wings!

    17. The Man in the Jar says:

      The Yes campaign may yet have a bit of a hill to climb but the No campaign is on a very slippery slope towards disaster. Especially when nut jobs like “Lord George Robertson” spout utterly offensive crap like “A Yes vote would be catastrophic in geopolitical terms and would threaten the stability of the wider world”

      Jutemans comment above reminds me that I haven’t posted this for a while.

      Answer the two following simple questions with a straightforward Yes or No

      Q1 Do you believe that a country should run its own affairs, Yes or No?

      Q2 Do you believe that Scotland is a country, Yes or No?

      Simple isn’t it!

    18. Cheryl Baker. MNMNMNMNMN.

    19. Flower of Scotland says:

      Good piece Rev! I am worried about the undecided! I think that the next attack will be that Osbourne,s austerity is working and everything is hunky dory! Already started , UK has the highest growth figures in Europe. We will be told lots of good news about the UK economy and that it would be daft to leave! Some undecideds will believe this crap!

      Hopefully The YES camp will be prepared for the next onslaught!

    20. MajorBloodnok says:

      So what most of the DKs are really saying is “I used to be undecided, but now I’m not so sure.”?

    21. G H Graham says:

      The impression one gets from this poll & the trend that it helps form is that there continues to be a gentle increase in support for a YES with a simultaneous gentle decrease in support for NO.

      If the current rate of change is maintained, the intersection of these two trends may appear in July or August. The conclusion then is that the balance will be slightly in favour of a YES vote by referendum time in September.

      But the pre-referendum advantage will be so small, that it cannot be assumed as indicative of the post referendum result.

      It also suggests that the determination of the Better Together campaign will be expressed in increasingly bizarre & extreme outbursts, making Lord George “Scotland has no culture” Robertson’s cataclysmic prophesy look like a Sunday School picnic.

    22. Les Wilson says:

      Flower of Scotland says:

      The good news for the economy is just one thing, the more important thing that can bring it all crashing down is the ever growing debt.That ain’t going down.

      Look here

    23. fergie35 says:

      It’s all down to us;
      Most Nos and dont knows I speak with say its because the media tells them Salmond is a dodger.
      I have converted many No and dont knows into Yes, and many of the converts have converted many friends and family members.
      Takes time and I ask a lot of questions!

    24. CameronB says:

      I trust that the inner self-preservation instinct will kick in nearer the time and undecideds will express their humanity, by avoiding that which is harmful to them (i.e. Westminster and Whitehall).

      No easing up though as a YES vote is not quite in the bag yet. As someone apparently quite brainy pointed out thee other day, ‘what have the unionists forgotten to remember’?

      I’m sure we will all discover as more unionist skeletons continue to fall out of the British cupboard.

    25. Tam Jardine says:

      I wonder how many of these undecided folk were formerly thinking of voting no? Converting people to being positive Yes voters is great, but also getting those leaning towards no to become undecided or simply not vote at all is vital.

      And I talk to a lot of people who are anti-snp who are watching the no campaign with disgust. I think on the day the turnout may not be as high as predicted due to no-leaning unionists having huge doubts over the negative campaign.

      I think there are many people with family connections to England who maybe canny bring themselves to say Yes but will opt to not vote rather than side with the conservatives.

    26. Flower of Scotland says:

      @les Wilson . You and I know that but the doubters don’t . They only hear that it’s good news for the Union!

      We just have to keep slogging away at the truth and hope they listen! People like Foukes and Robertson will help the YES side. They are not well liked!

    27. Oneironaut says:

      “So what most of the DKs are really saying is โ€œI used to be undecided, but now Iโ€™m not so sure.โ€?”

      So they’re even indecisive about their indecisiveness!
      No wonder they seem to have difficulty in locating information when people are practically waving it in their faces!

      If you want a REAL challenge, try converting my stepbrother to a Yes vote.
      The rest of the family have pretty much written him off as a lost cause… ๐Ÿ™

    28. bald eagle says:


      have you got a bog yet sorry blog

    29. Big Jock says:

      I hope BBC Scotland are still being monitored. They have a picture of a Union Flag and the words:”Independence will be Cataclysmic”.No reference to the context or who said it or how ridiculous. Just blatant propaganda!

    30. heraldnomore says:

      Saw that EK councillor chappie on your twitter thingy Rev, and poked into his twitter thingy. Jeezo, what a fruitcake. When are the next local elections? All candidates in his constituency have been given some ammo haven’t they? And people vote for this; and Labour select this as a candidate. ‘Nuff said really.

    31. Boorach says:

      @ Flower of Scotland

      I don’t believe that Osbourne’s austerity programme is something the majority of Scots would support, even if it was working anywhere outside the SE bubble.

      What recovery there is is happening despite, not because, of government measures.

    32. CameronB says:

      Re. George Robertson. Has anyone contacted NATO to ask their opinion and whether they agree with this post-modern neo-imperialist dinosaur?

      I think we need an answer to that one, to inform our understanding of the world. I’d better not ask as I tend to like an answer. ๐Ÿ™‚

    33. Oneironaut says:

      @bald eagle
      “have you got a bog yet sorry blog”

      Hmm, not too sure if that typo was deliberate or not ๐Ÿ˜‰ hehe.

      Not yet. I’ve got an old one I was planning to use as a sort of progress on novel ideas I was working on type of thing, but it really went nowhere.
      So I’d thought about scrapping it and starting up a new one co-authored with a friend of mine.
      I’d be using my end of it more as a kind of “random issues that happen to be on my mind” type of thing, crossed with a photojournal of sorts too. (Though it’ll probably be focused on the independence debate up until September at least, since that’s going to be heavily occupying my mind all year!)

    34. inDEEpendant says:

      Slightly O/T, Given the need to encourage our wives / daughters, (My Mum is no longer here to see the great debate), to engage as YES voters and having read Lesley Riddochs excellent piece today.

      What better point to emphasise than the best thing any mother could wish for, would be for the removal of NUCLEAR weapons of MASS DESTRUCTION from our shores!!
      Enabling all the mothers and grandma’s to raise their offspring in a free anti-war mongering country.

      Then emphasise that they can only GUARANTEE this by VOTING YES on the 18th September

    35. G H Graham says:

      If anyone wants to see what the deficit or indeed the debt is going to look like over the next few years, you need only read George Osborne’s own budget which makes for grim reading.

      The British media seem to be in complete denial. They are between a rock & a hard place, politically. If it trashed Osborne’s woeful track record & disseminated his eye watering forecasts, it would provide the SNP, YES camp & pro independence supporters easy to use ammunition.

      This we are spoon fed by the BBC that the economy is improving because house prices are increasing & GDP is growing. But they almost completely ignore the widening demographic & geographic wealth gap.

      Looking ahead, Osborne’s belief that unemployment will fall below 1 million on the back of high growth & improving trade balances are just fantasy economics.

      At best there will be a net zero deficit by 2019 but there’s no sign in the next 20 years or so that much of the debt if any will be paid down.

      Britain is heading for a south east housing bubble, now running at 4 times average earnings & a mountainous level national debt that refuses to go away.

    36. Slightly O/T – sorry.

      Can anyone use the domain name Got it gathering dust which is a bit of a waste. However, I’ve got 3 other pro-indy sites on the go so just don’t have time.

      It expires on 3/3/15 and would be fully hosted. Nothing to buy, just needs somebody to do something with it.

    37. Kev says:

      O/T Just caught some of Robertson’s speech, most of the language sounds like passages of the Old Testament, where was he spouting this lunacy, a Scientology convention?better watch or Tom Cruise will be penning the disaster movie script already for “ReferenDOOM”, wonder who’l play Dark Overlord Salmond, Eddie Izzard?

    38. seanair says:

      George Robertson pleading with America to help stop Scotland seceding from London rule. Er, wasn’t that what America did in the 18th century because they were fed up with taxes etc being decided in Westminster and wanted to go it alone?
      The BBC have all guns firing over this story. Now we know why Naughtie’s in America–nothing to do with Scottish Week, but everything to do with co-ordinating and pulicising Robertson’s stupid attack.

    39. Andy-B says:

      Absolutely undecided at 34% how can so many people be absolutely undecided, with so much information thrown at them from the biased press, and many many honest and truthful articles online for the YES camp.

      After all you don’t need the internet or newspapers or even the radio to know, where the YES camp are coming from, one quick call will let you have access to the Whitepaper and the future of an independent Scotland.

      O/T I do aplogise.

      The London owned Daily Record newspaper has given Alistair Carmichael (Anti-secretary of state for Scotland and Pro-Portsmouth), a three-quarter page spread, in which Carmichael goes on a verbal assault of so called Cybernats.

      Carmichael claims an SLAB MSP was left terrified when an anonymous YES supporter warned him to “Watch his back”, a made up load of rubbish, in my opinion, and a false smear against the YES camp. I wonder who this so called “terrified labour MSP is.

      The Record View fairs no better with, most of the bile come from the cybernats, who spread online poison and threats.

      Still no parity from the Canary Wharf owned Daily Record, as their London masters push only the no camps views.

      Finally only in the surreal world of the Daily Record,can the creation of 400 jobs in Scotland by the SNP government, be classed as a mediocre thing, and pushed by the Daily Record as a threat to poor people, why? well the 400 jobs are to be given to people in Scotland by a debt collecting firm.

    40. Robert Peffers says:

      @Cameronb:” Has anyone contacted NATO to ask their opinion”.
      You could be onto something there, CameronB. Even better might be a general acceptance that, “The Noble Lord” is quoting the official NATO policy. Doing so could force NATO to actually make a statement. No matter which way they chose to jump – back Robertson or rubbish him – their statement can be used against the NO campaign. If NATO don’t then make a policy statement that too will stand against the NO campaign.

    41. heedtracker says: The propagandists in Pacific Quay producing this kind of “news” for the last decade must be wondering what kind of brainwashing they can get away with next.

    42. Desimond says:

      @Big Jock

      re BBC..Best you dont watch Have I Got News For You then.
      Bad enough previous shockers like Ray Winstons “Scotland exports Tramps” ‘joke’ but now the actual scenery includes the headline “Scottish Independence takes a Pounding” front and centre right behind the panelists!

      Subtle isn’t their weapon of choice!

    43. alexicon says:

      Sorry if this has been posted before.

      What was that Darling was saying about cybernats?

    44. alexicon says:

      Sorry if this has been posted before.

      What was that Darling was saying about cybernats?

      The unionists’ are getting desperate.

    45. Andy-B says:


      Lets see how many newspapers carry this story.

    46. gerry parker says:

      @desimond.” I Don’t watch Have I got News for you now”.

      I wouldn’t buy a Timex watch either.


    47. Grouse Beater says:


      The propagandists in Pacific Quay producing … “news” … “

      It’s quite an onslaught lumped together like that.

    48. aldo_macb says:

      George Robertson has some cheek. During his tenure as Defence Secretary and NATO Secretary-General the UK waged 5 wars. Between 1997 and 2004 our George was in charge of 5 wars. How much more cataclysmic can you get than that, George?

    49. HandandShrimp says:


      To be fair being grabbed by the throat in a pub is hardly as serious as someone sticking a wee Yes sticker on an office window. I hardly think Mr Roden need concern himself with stories about lovely CyberNaws

    50. CameronB says:

      Robert Peffers
      I might look like a farmer. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      No disrespect meant to farmers. ๐Ÿ™‚

      We are on the same team but I didn’t think is was the SNP’s, I thought it was Scotland’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

      IMO, the White Papers is the SNP’s plan (as democratically elected Scottish government), for the transition into democracy and independence. It is not a blueprint for Scotland’s future, for ever and ever.

      Scotland’s future is still to be written and could be written by future generations of Scots who have actual influence over a directly accountable government, of whatever party or political hue.

      A big hat tip to the SNP for delivering the opportunity though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    51. Jeannie says:

      O/T Just followed a link to an editorial in the Daily Record which frankly boggled my mind. It applauds the idea of using a tea of elderly Labour Lords to explain to us all why staying in the UK is better for social justice. Better for Social Justice? From an unelected, rich elite of privileged, political appointees who get ยฃ300.00 per day of taxpayers’ money just to show up? And the Daily Record thinks this will demonstrate a commitment to social justice of all things? No doubt they’ll all be impressed down the Foodbank…NOT! Has the Daily Record lost all powers of self-scrutiny or does it just not understand the concept of social justice?

    52. crisiscult says:

      on the subject of likely changes in voting intention, I’m sure I remember someone saying that independence referendums usually result in a yes (well, that seems clear from quick check on wikipedia) but also that support for yes goes up the nearer it comes to the vote, but I can’t find any evidence online of that. The only fairly academic study I found looks at referendums in general, finding that ‘no’ tends to win and increases its support. Can anyone help? I think for a lot of people, the normalising effect of seeing and hearing about lots of people voting one way or the other will have an effec, to say nothing of the enthusiasm that could be generated by optimisim and public displays of such optimism for a positive change (i.e. not what we’re getting with a no vote)

    53. Muscleguy says:

      Do you have the determination to vote figures there Rev? Because the Scottish Social Attitude survey from earlier in the year had Yes supporters as 89% determined to vote vs 73% for No supporters.

      I would take their figures over yours for good psephological reasons if you don’t mind. Especially since the panelbase population are by definition politically interested or they would not have signed up.

      BTW the SSA figures are worth a 5% swing to Yes if they hold on referendum day. We should perhaps pray for bad weather ๐Ÿ˜‰

    54. BuckieBraes says:

      That photo reminds me of a girl in my year at school who methodically kept her ‘singles’ in alphabetical order, by performer. When at her house one evening, some of us noticed that she had filed the latest Bucks Fizz record under F (‘Fizz, Bucks’). No amount of convincing argument could persuade her that she had got this wrong.

      That lassie grew up to be Joanne Lamont (no, only kidding!).

    55. BuckieBraes says:

      Sorry, Johann Lamont. Drat!

    56. Alastair says:


      I wrote an article about this very thing a few months back. If we take the Referendum in Montenegro in 2006 and Quebec in 1995 the polling shows very similar patterns.

      The YES vote had a wee spike just after the votes were announced but after that the NO vote had a strong lead. As the actual referendum came closer the YES vote steadily gained, never at an exceptional rate it should be noted.

      In the weeks before the votes the YES vote finally took the lead in both cases. Then with just a week or so left polling seems to show the populations swinging back to a NO vote. Cold feet syndrome perhaps.

      As History tells us in the end both votes were close and our own referendum seems to be following a similar pattern. This is why I think Better Together are so worried. They will know what this data as well.

    57. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Do you have the determination to vote figures there Rev?”

      Basically identical.

    58. K Mackay says:

      Alexicon, I can’t help notice that when it’s one of ours getting attacked they press put ‘assaulted’ in inverted commas. When it’s a unionist it just says they were threatened, with no inverted commas, such as this

      Maybe I’m reading too much into it but it seems to me that they always imply whatever unionists claim happened is concrete fact and anything we say is dubious.

      Handandshrimp, I agree, we can all be thankful stickers didn’t get involved this time but these things escalate. Sure, today it’s a friendly throat grab but soon they’ll go further, they’ll be arming themselves with stickers!

    59. crisiscult says:

      Thanks Alastair. Maybe I read your text then. Can’t remember where it was or when but could have been in the last 3 or 4 months. The other article I read on referendums generally didn’t seem to me sufficiently analogous to make it worthwhile e.g status quo on some technical constitutional change compared with independence.

      I’m feeling pretty confident now, for many reasons including attacks by rattled Britnats.

    60. Grouse beater says:


      I’m fairly new to blogs and the like; started my own a few weeks ago trying to formulate my thoughts against opinion and available evidence. You’re welcome to anything in my independence essays: grousebeater.wordpress

      I hope you’ll vote for Scotland to become more than it is.

    61. velofello says:

      Get out door canvassing then you can meet and talk with the DKs.

      And,canvassing today – an elderly female, ” How will I vote? Did ye no hear me shouting at the TV at that George Robertson when ye chapped my door? I’ll be voting Yes”.

    62. jingly jangly says:

      Betty Boop

      There was an interesting article on Wings last year describing the Stages of Change model which psychologists use.

      The article (which unfortunately I cannot find,) and I probably have missed some of the important stages explained that first of all people are against change, then they accept its going to happen, then they question the changes and decide if they are going to benefit from them. Like a bereavement it can take several months or years to make the journey to acceptance and explains why its taken some time but there is now a growing momentum towards YES. The move is from No to Don’t Know and then to YES.

      This is the reason its a long Referendum campaign. ๐Ÿ™‚

    63. Onwards says:

      @jingly jangly
      That makes sense.
      I remember when independence was just a fringe idea. Now it is becoming accepted as a realistic possibility, especially as the polls narrow.

      The internet and facebook means that voters now have 2 sides to the story, which has made a huge difference.

      The post earlier suggesting the question “Do you think countries should govern themselves?” is interesting.

      The natural answer is obviously yes, and a big reason why some people are still reluctant to apply this to Scotland is fear.

      That’s why the negative campaign continues, but the good news is that as the date approaches, undecided voters will be more interested in finding out answers, then they are more likely to see through the scare stories.

    64. bald eagle says:


      its easy to convert you’re stepbrother get you’re family round the table and say to him you’s have all as a family have all thought about his feelings and are going to vote no along with him

      this will totally freak him out and bet you any money he will camp outside the polling station to be the first to vote that’s what my lot do to me good luck

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