Two Years On From The Independence Referendum, Scotland Would Still Vote No

It has been two years since the Scottish people took part in the historic referendum on their country’s potential independence from the United Kingdom. The scenery in the political landscape has changed somewhat in that time: the main UK political parties all have new leaders, the SNP have enjoyed resounding success in both Westminster and Holyrood elections, the Conservatives have an overall majority in the Commons and the UK has voted to leave the EU, in contrast to the preference of Scottish voters. However, despite these seismic political changes, the stated intention of Scots regarding independence from the UK is currently sitting within the margin of error of the 2014 referendum “No” result.


This polling stands in contrast to our last published work, conducted 24-28th June – just after the UK’s vote to leave the EU (tables available here). This showed a different picture – a post-Brexit “Yes” lead.


Immediately after the Brexit result, our polling indicated that just under one in five people who voted “No” in 2014, said they would switch their vote to “Yes” in a new referendum: almost double the number who would switch the other way.


Question: If there was a referendum tomorrow with the question “should Scotland be an Independent Country” how would you vote?

Base: Respondents who are likely to vote with undecided and refused removed.






However, those stating they would switch from “No” to “Yes” in our recent poll dropped to 11%, almost negating any swing when compared to the 10% going the other way. These figures could be a demonstration of a settling down of any potential ill-feeling towards the UK post-Brexit and could be considered as a factor when accounting for the return to a “No” majority in this most recent poll.


The SNP’s dominance of Scottish seats in the Westminster elections of 2015, alongside their continued hold of the national Parliament, has also not yet brought with it an overwhelming majority in the country for independence. 15% of people who indicated that they voted for the SNP in the 2016 Holyrood elections, said that they would vote “No” to independence in this poll.


 2016 Holyrood Vote                                      Potential Indy Ref 2 – Vote Intention



Given that the major political changes of the last two years seem to have had little lasting impact on the Scottish public’s voting intention on independence, it is unclear what could tip opinion towards it. SNP control of Holyrood and the further devolution of power from Westminster to the Scottish government, delivered in March, may well represent a reasonable constitutional compromise for many voters.


One thing that remains clear however, is Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity with the Scottish public. Her net favourability rating of +12 was the highest of any politician presented to respondents.  The only other politician to have a positive rating is a direct opponent to Sturgeon in both the Scottish Parliament and on the issue of independence – Leader of the Opposition Ruth Davidson (+6). It will be interesting to see, going forward, what happens to the favourability ratings of these figures and, if there is an Indy Ref 2, how they are utilised in the campaigns.




Survation polled 1,073 Scottish adults aged 16+ between 5th-10th September 2016. Full tables for the independence referendum are available here and for the favourability ratings here.

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