9 January 2013

Angus Reid, January: Yes 32%, No 50%

No devotee of the Express, I managed to miss the poll which the paper commissioned from Angus Reid last week on Scottish independence. The first Scottish constitutional headcount of 2013, the Express poll sampled a relatively small selection of folk (just 573 respondents) on the national question, and on a second (to my mind, rather poorly framed, muddled) series of preferred constitutional alternatives, from the status quo, to "some powers", "more powers", and "full independence". Since devo-something is realistically off the table until after 2014, I intend to focus solely on the substantive findings on independence.

The pollster's January findings more or less echo trends we've seen a number of times before in offerings from YouGov and Ipsos-MORI: evidence of a substantial gender gap, and an age-taper in support for independence, from young 'un to auld yins. Overall, Angus Reid found support for independence held steady at just under a third of the electorate, with half of their respondents preferring to remain in the United Kingdom, leaving 16% as yet undecided on the constitutional question.

No great shakes in the gendered column either. Polls have consistently shown a gender gap in support for independence of 10% or more. This Angus Reid poll is no exception. Voting intentions vary 10% between men and women questioned, some 37% to 27%, with a slightly larger cohort of Scottish damsels (+6%) declaring themselves undecided.

Angus Reid avoid the thorny domain of correlating voting intention to social class, but they do disaggregate their results by the antiquity of their respondents. Even more so than is usual, the pollster has sampled a tiny number of folk in each bracket.  Despite this small sample size, the company's findings aren't exactly a revelation.  With the odd bump and hump here and there, support for Scottish independence tapers off as respondents get older, with the oldest cohort of respondents (over 65s) recording the lowest level of support for independence (24%) and highest levels of opposition (65%).  Exhibiting the estimable contrariness of youth, the youngest group of respondents (18 - 24 year olds) again recorded the highest levels of support for (39%) and the lowest level of opposition (41%) to the idea that Scotland might be better off independent.


  1. The interesting thing is that the situation has reveresed since the last similar poll a year ago, which had 51% in favour of "independence".

  2. Took part in IPSI poll by phone about 10 weeks ago, wonder what that will show.

    From an antiquated damsel from last blue section on graph.

  3. This is really interesting. As I'm trying to gather statistics in support of something completely unrelated,which will involve compiling a survey questionnaire I've gone and looked at the report to see how the professionals do it.

    Here's a few observations which are based on curiosity as much as anything but do have implicationsns for morale.

    Firstly I was surprised at the lack of detail presented in the "Full Methodology Statement" perhaps it should be titled "Weighting data used", not having any training or experience in carrying out such surveys I simply don't understand what this means how does the weighting work?

    Sample size is stated as 573 which seems an odd number to pick, number of respondents from which the figures are drawn is the same, 100% response... brilliant!

    So what's the Springboard UK online panel from where the sample is drawn?

    "Springboard UK is an online platform designed to give people like you the chance to express your opinions – and to see them in action!"
    "Your views will influence decision-makers whether they are developing public policy or molding new products and services. Your voice will be heard in the media as they report on the changing values and preferences of the UK public."

    They also offer cash incentives for surveys taken.

    So the Springboard sample is actually drawn from a self selecting group of people that like doing surveys, hope that their opinions will have some influence in some way, politically, commercially, whatever or hope to win £500 and can actually be bothered to take part regularly. Hardly representative but Ideal for the nosey, opinionated, slightly socially awkward that aren't so good at putting their case in person, I'll let you know how it goes!

    Do these surveys actually sway public opinion one way or another? Do we really base our voting decisions on what the papers say other people we don't know are going to do? The Express probably thinks so or they wouldn't be printing it, and they do serve to induce pessimism and perhaps resignation.

    There are at least another 17 of these survey companies operating in the UK, plenty to chose from if you want to select the results that best suit your needs .

  4. Braveheart,

    I'll have to look that up. In the past, I've not kept much of a weather eye on Angus Reid polls. I'm more of an Ipsos and YouGov man.

    Rather depends who was commissioning it, I suppose, and whether it was for private purposes. Given the gap in time, I imagine the latter is more likely.


    Methodologies for weighting findings isn't something I know a huge amount about. On your second point about self-selecting respondents, as I recall, YouGov employs a similar online device. To an extent, though, you are always going to have self-selection in responses to some extent. After all, if I randomly called folk up, I'd only be able to chat to folk who don't put the phone down, or who have a home phone (hence why you tend to get over-large samples of elderly respondents in polls, which have to the weighted down, and much smaller (often very small,m as here) samples of younger respondents. As to swaying public opinion, as you say, they provide a bit of mood music, and something for the press to fixate on. At least the topline figures, anyway. I find they neglect the (often more interesting) disaggregated data on things like gender, class, etc.

  5. LPW, Express Poll Jan 2012