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Making sense of the polls

Scottish Referendum Result: NO Wins Emphatically

With all 32 councils reporting, Scotland has rejected independence by a decisive 55.3% to 44.7% margin. Only four of the 32 councils voted YES to independence. Although YES won two of the four most populous councils narrowly (Glasgow and North Lanarkshire), it was otherwise a bleak scorecard for YES. Turnout was a high 84.6%.

The final result had the YES vote only 0.7% above the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) 2011 vote. There were two councils, including Glasgow, where YES did over 13% better than the SNP in 2011, but there were four councils where YES did over 10% worse than the SNP. Northern Scotland in particular voted for the SNP, but not for YES.

The final polls overestimated the YES vote by about 3%; they had NO leading by only about 52-48. There is evidence for a late swing to NO, as two polls that sampled late had NO ahead by 53-47. YouGov recontacted those that had responded to its final pre-election poll on election day, and found that NO was ahead by 54-46, a 2% shift to NO from YouGov’s pre-election poll. Another explanation for why the polls were wrong is that NO voters may not have responded as much as YES voters.

The rejection of Independence will be a relief to UK Labour, as they would find it much harder to win a UK general election without Scotland. Current UK polls have Labour just ahead of the Tories; this has been the case in UK polling for a long time. UK electoral boundaries favour Labour, so if they win the national vote they will very probably win a majority of UK seats. The next UK general election is due in May 2015, and I think Labour has a good chance of winning.

For more details on Scotland’s referendum, see the ABC’s results, or the BBC’s results.

New Zealand Election

New Zealand holds its election tomorrow, with polls closing at 5pm Aus Eastern time. Final polls have shown some slippage for the centre right Nationals, but they are still way ahead of Labour, and the centre right alliance will certainly win more seats than the centre left alliance. It is possible that the centre right will fall short of a majority; in this case New Zealand First and the Maori party would hold the balance of power.

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