Does Scotland hold the key to the referendum outcome?

Does Scotland hold the key to the referendum outcome?

AV referendum question – actual wording on the ballot (ICM 10,011 sample poll) YES % NO %
All 59 41
Scotland 65 35
North 62 38
North West 57 43
Yorks 57 43
East Midlands 56 44
West Midlands 57 43
Wales 59 41
Eastern 59 41
Greater London 60 40
South East 61 39
South West 61 39

Would a delay in the timing favour the NOES

One of the consequences of the big Labour filibuster in the House of Lords (they were at it again overnight) is that it could delay the bill to such an extent that the planned referendum date of May 5th 2011 could be be missed.

A big question is whether the putting back the big vote will have an impact on the outcome? Will it favour the YES or the NO camps?

On May 5th, of course, there’ll be elections to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments as well as local elections in several parts of England. The result is that there will be three types of areas where you would expect to see different turnout levels.

At the top, surely, will be Scotland and Wales where national elections are taking place. In 2007 the turnout level in Scotland was 51.8%. Then we’ll get the areas of England where there are council elections with turnout levels expected to be in the mid-30s. Finally there’ll be those parts where the AV referendum is the only vote taking place and my guess is that only about 25% of electors will bother.

The question is whether this will matter. Just looking at the table above from a massive 10,011 sample ICM poll that took place in November there are big regional variations with YES doing particularly well in Scotland.

So if this polling is right and there are simultaneous elections then Scottish voters could have a disproportionate affect on the outcome. Not only are they much more likely to be voting but in this poll YES was 30 points ahead compared with 18 points nationally.

UPDATE Generally you would be wary about drawing too many conclusions about a sub-sample. What makes a massive difference here is the size of the poll – an overall sample of 10,011. A total of 864 people who took part were from Scotland which is almost the same as in a standard GB national poll.

Mike Smithson

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