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New ICM Scottish independence referendum poll has the NO lead down to just 3 percent

April 20th, 2014

Excuding DKs/WNVs it is YES 48: NO 52

A dramatic new poll by ICM for Scotland on Sunday has the gap down to just 3% – the lowest ever from an established national pollster.

The numbers say it all. YES is stable on 39% but there has been a four point reduction in those saying NO.

This is getting very tight indeed and will worry Downing Street. All the momentum of the last month or so has been against those wanting to preserve the union.

The tightness of the outcome being presented by ICM will lead to a close examination of polling methodology and the firm’s boss, Martin Boon, has a long article in the paper setting out how the numbers are produced. He makes the point that this referendum is unique and there is no past experience to fall back on.

Critically ICM, like some other pollsters doing IndyRef surveys, the firm is weighting its samples back to the 2011 Holyrood elections when the SNP did remarkably well. The impact of that is that could be helping YES.

    ICM’s Boon also wonders whether the mood in Scotland is such that there is a “shy NO voters syndrome” with those opposed being reluctant to admit it.

Like all sharp polling changes we need to compare it against other surveys to see if the trend is being supported.

Whatever today’s numbers are dramatic and add to the pressure on the NO camp.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble