SNP 39% (-4)
Labour 36% (+1)
Conservatives 16% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)
The figures for the independence referendum show the No campaign increasing its lead somewhat, essentially returning us to the status quo ante from the last poll but one from the same company - although the Yes share is still 1% higher than it was in that poll. Curiously, though, the focus of Ipsos-Mori's Christopher McLean (who may or may not be TSE's 'prominent pollster' Chuckle Brother) is not on the headline figures, but on the figures for the segment of the sample who claim to have already made a firm decision about how they will vote in 500 days' time. Mr McLean gets rather carried away with his own logic, first pointing to the percentage of respondents who claim they are certain to vote, then to the percentage of that percentage who claim they are certain of how they will vote, and then working out what proportion of the "remaining" voters the Yes campaign would need to convince to have a chance of winning. The one tiny flaw in this logic? The graphic right above Mr McLean's analysis helpfully demonstrates that at least 5% of the voters who claimed in the last poll in February that they had already firmly decided how to vote have changed their minds since! And that change isn't some kind of mirage caused by an increase in the proportion of the electorate that has reached a decision - in fact the number of respondents who say they have decided has fallen from 567 in February to 558 now. So while the 'definitely decided' question may be moderately useful in distinguishing 'softer' voters from 'firmer' voters, the reality is that responses to that question can't be taken quite as literally as Mr McLean seems to believe - many of those 'firmer' voters remain up for grabs.
The recent YouGov poll commissioned by the SNP offers another way of looking at the underlying state of play. Respondents were asked if they'd be more or less likely to vote Yes - or if it would make no difference either way - if they were persuaded that independence would make Scotland fairer and wealthier. The combined total for those who claim to have already decided to vote No, and those who perversely would be less likely to vote Yes if they anticipated greater fairness and wealth, is 45%. The combined total for those who claim to have already decided to vote Yes, and those who would be more likely to vote Yes in the specified scenario (and who can therefore be assumed to at least be consciously open to the idea of voting for independence), is 47%. So that demonstrates a clear potential route to a narrow victory - if Yes Scotland run the perfect campaign. In reality there probably isn't such a thing as the perfect campaign, which means that at least some of the people who currently think they are firm No voters will need to be converted. But the fluidity detected by Ipsos-Mori in the supposedly 'already decided' group suggests that is perfectly doable. With a year and a half to go, there's all to play for.
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One point that will presumably be of some concern to the anti-independence campaign is that their figurehead Alistair Darling now has an outright negative personal rating - and that's in spite of the fact that he doesn't even have any ministerial responsibilities that might be making him unpopular. What can he possibly be doing so wrong? Could it be that his relentless negativity is beginning to wear thin on the public?