A strategy to win: How a new data report may hold the key to winning indyref2

Nathanael Williams

CommonSpace looks at what the data of 2014 until now tells us about who supports indy and how that can be used by the movement

A DIVERSE INDEPENDENCE CAMPAIGN that allows different groups and ideologies to compete is statistically vital to success in a second referendum, according to a polling study by the thinktank research group Common Weal. 

According to the latest figures in a report called The Demographics of Independence, support for independence has seen a slight decline among certain groups since the last independence referendum in 2014.

The author, Dr Craig Dalzell, has said that such a report could be a useful tool for supporters of an independent Scotland in understanding how to appeal to groups such as women, over 40s and those in rural communities.

Speaking to CommonSpace, Dalzell, who is a lead researcher for Common Weal and author of the report said: “The trends in the independence polling since the referendum and especially since Brexit are increasingly showing us that no single party or party ideology can win us the next independence referendum.

“Instead, the data suggests that a future campaign should give the space for parties to speak to their particular line but should not feel too constrained by them or each other.”

CommonSpace looks at the report by Common Weal on polling and support for independence after last weekend’s conference of the Scottish Independence Convention in Glasgow.

We take a look at the main points of the research and what all sides of the constitutional question can learn from polling over the last two years.

The declining support of older women

The data shows that since the Brexit vote, support for independence among women over 55 has dropped from 37 per cent to 22 per cent.

Other women in different age groups show a rise in their support for Scottish independence.

Perhaps put off by the increasing economic insecurity resulting from Brexit, older women have also had to deal with pension injustice and have borne the brunt of austerity cuts passed at Westminister. The report suggests a ‘small c’ conservative tendency may have set in.

Convincing the “better off” maybe a flawed strategy

The paper poured cold water on the idea that convincing those on higher incomes to support independence was a winning strategy.

Only 15 per cent of the total working population fall into the high earning bracket meaning that any vote gap between No and Yes could be reduced by less than 120,000 by a succesful campaign to win them to Yes.

Only a campaign aimed at targeting the Yes vote among the £25,000 to £44,999 bracket would close the gap by around 182,600 votes.

Yes has to get out its vote

The age difference between Yes and No supporters has been well documented with younger voters more likely to back independence.

However, as Dalzell has laid out the younger voters who supported Yes were less likely to turn out to vote.

A “get out the vote” campaign among young Yes voters would narrow the gap by a third.

Cross party support for independence is growing

Perhaps the biggest shock of the data is that among SNP voters support for independence has declined since Brexit, falling from 85 per cent to 75 per cent.

On the other hand, there has been an increase in support amongst Labour, Liberal Democrat and even Scottish Conservative voters.

Brexit instability wearing down support among low income Scots

The group most likely to support independence, lower income Scots termed “C2DE” have seen “a steady and consistent erosion of Yes support” since 2014.

It is suggested that the movement is struggling to hold on to the supporters it gained in 2014, especially in the context of Brexit and the uncertainty it brings.  

As this group are more likely to be unenthusiastic about the EU, a campaign linked inherently to EU membership is a strategy that would bring limited success, at least in securing these lower income voters.

Live: Your guide to the Scottish Independence Convention conference

Picture courtesy of Peter McNally – Documenting Yes

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