4 February 2013

Angus Reid, February: Yes 32%, No 47%.

"Should Scotland be an independent country?" A transparently biased question, do you think, sure to deliver a smashing pro-independence majority? Pollster Angus Reid put the claim to the question in a 1,003 person poll, conducted on the Mail on Sunday's shilling over the end of January and beginning of February. The first published poll using the new formulation agreed by the Electoral Commission, Angus Reid has tweaked its approach slightly.  The last referendum poll they conducted in January put support at Yes 32%, No 50%, but did not include a breakdown by social grade.  It also disaggregated responses according to six age brackets, from 18 to the over 65s.  This weekend's poll is a wee bit different, with disaggregation by age truncated to three rougher groups (18 - 34, 35 - 54, 55+). On the plus side, on this iteration, the pollster did include social grades (a detailed description of what these denote, here).

So what did they find? The overall totals with the new question were:

And broken down by gender...

Our old friend the gender gap, still very much in evidence here, with 13% point gap between support for independence between men and women, with a much larger percentage of female voters still undecided (12% higher than men).  Compared with January's findings, the male limb of the poll held pretty steady (indecision +1%). Indecision amongst female respondents is up (+7% on January's findings) with both support for and opposition to indepedence down (-1% and -6% respectively).  

A curious poll in terms of age, this. January's finer-grained poll showed the familiar taper in support for independence, and mounting opposition as folk get older.  While opposition to independence is at its highest in the oldest cohort of February's rougher, trisected poll, support for independence amongst those over 35 is six points above that of the most youthful third of respondents, approaching a full third of whom declare themselves undecided.

Lastly, Angus Reid also disaggregated by NRS social grades, which are based entirely on categorising the professional occupation of the head of the household.  In rough and ready terms, ABC1s are envisaged as the middle classes, from "higher managerial, administrative or professional" employees, through "intermediate managerial, administrative or professional jobs, to "supervisory or clerical, junior managerial, administrative or professional" workers.  C2DEs, by contrast, encompass "skilled, semi- and unskilled manual workers" and "those at the lowest levels of subsistence".

Past polls have consistently shown that opposition to independence is at its highest amongst better off respondents, and support at its lowest, the attitudes of poorer Scots its mirror image. Although levels of support for independence in this weekend's poll do not differ terrifically substantially between middle class and working class respondents (6%), a far more substantial gap separates opposition to independence from Angus Reid's ABC1 and C2DE voters (16%), with indecision amongst C2DE voters mostly mopping up the difference.

Angus Reid posed another couple of questions in this poll, perhaps the most interesting of which being:  
"Thinking of your own financial position, do you think independence will leave you better off, make no difference, or leave you worse off?"

For digestibility, I'll be breaking down respondents answers to that one, and how it plays along gendered, age and social lines, in another post later on today.  Polish off your abacuses, and stay tuned.

Those full tables.


  1. I’m interested in the difference in support for Independence by age group. Do you know if anyone knows why there are differences in support.

    I wonder if the younger generation are permanently better disposed to Independence. (By analogy the shift in attitudes towards the acceptability of homosexuality.) I can see reasons why the young might be permanently more in favour of Independence. Less familiar with the former achievements of the Union and more used to some form of devolution.

    If they are so disposed then a long-term winning strategy for the nationalist movement is just to wait, provide competent government when given the opportunity and keep aggitating for more powers as and when opportunites arise and basically wait out the older, pro-Unionists.

    On the other hand this could just be the exhuberance of youth. In which case the nationalist movement can necessarily expect their views to hold constant as the young cohort moves into middle age.

  2. danieldwilliam,

    I'm not aware of any more detailed attempt to study the tapering off in terms of age, but I am interested in these often imperceptible inter-generational shifts. Like young 'uns, just a bit younger than me, whose political consciousness post-dates independence, and takes the Scottish Parliament for granted, rather than as an achievement rooted in sustained struggle and clawed out.

    We could turn it on its head too, and ask, why are older folk apparently more committed to the Union? After all, the oldest cohort in this poll isn't exactly the WWII generation, the youngest of them being born in the late 1950s...