Scotland vote will be close – Salmond will need to capture all the ‘undecideds’


Poll suggests Better Together will focus on economic risks of independence for Scotland

Alex Salmond seen through the eyepiece of a TV camera in Glasgow, 13 September 2014. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod
Toby Helm, political editor
Saturday 13 September 2014 20.36 BST

A month ago, an opinion poll showing the no campaign six percentage points ahead would have been terrible news for Alistair Darling’s Better Together team. Today, however, after an extraordinary week that began with a YouGov poll putting the yes campaign ahead for the first time, it will seem like manna from heaven.

Among those who are certain to vote and have made up their minds, the Opinium survey for the Observer puts no on 53% and yes on 47%. Among those certain to vote are a few – 6% – still to decide whether to plump for independence or the status quo.


For yes to overtake no, Alex Salmond will need to capture all of these undecideds – and possibly a few unexpected defectors from the currently committed noes – if he is to be able to declare the end of the union in the early hours of Friday.

In a campaign that has seen a late surge to yes, there could well be further swings. The result remains on a knife edge, but economic worries appear to be weighing most heavily with voters.

Asked to list their top three concerns, 70% of those intending to vote no said they were worried about the Scottish government’s ability to meet its financial commitments in areas such as pensions and healthcare.

Confusion over what currency Scotland would use was cited by 52% and worries about living standards by 40% of no voters. More than 20% of yes voters said they were also concerned about those three areas if Scotland votes for independence.


In the coming days, Better Together is certain to focus even more relentlessly on what it says are the economic risks, the practical effects on household budgets, mortgages, prices in the shops. That, rather than more devolution of power to Scotland, seems to be what makes up minds. The poll shows that last week’s promises by all the main Westminster parties to devolve more powers to Holyrood have had very little effect in shifting votes.

Opinions seem to be well fixed as time to change minds runs out: 90% of those who say they intend to vote yes say they are certain to do so, while 93% currently favouring no say that is now their definite position. Less than 3% of each group say they might possibly change their minds.

Salmond and his campaign are judged to have performed way better than Darling’s across the whole campaign. 51% say Salmond has performed well against 25% who say the same about Darling. Despite no’s narrow lead, Salmond’s reputation as a campaigner will continue to strike fear in his opponents over the next four days, and ensure the contest is still very much alive.