How we found 93 per cent of No voters would like to vote tactically to defeat the SNP

How we found 93 per cent of No voters would like to vote tactically to defeat the SNP

by Allan Sutherland
article from Friday 30, October, 2020

TWO YEARS AGO a few Aberdeen City and Shire Better Together veterans, including the two chairmen Ian Lakin and Professor Hugh Pennington (better known as Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid bête noire) got together to create Scotland Matters. 

We were all agreed that the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections would be the Scexit High Noon and unless Labour, Lib Dem and the Conservatives started looking like an effective opposition and alternative government the SNP/Greens would win a majority of seats with a minority of the total vote. Then they would again push for Indyref2, even if they don’t actually mean it. 

Our USP as a campaign group was and is that the pro-UK partis need to get election winning policies, work together to maximise the number of seats between them – ie endorse tactical voting – and be willing to form a coalition. We also went our of our way to work with other groups. 

With six months to go until the Scottish Parliament election not much has changed other than the polls predict a rout of the pro-UK parties 

Scotland Matters believes a growing number of people want them to get serious about tactical voting as a means of getting a Parliament that reflects the 55 per cent /45 per cent union majority voting split in their favour. Perfect tactical voting can yield a maximum of 88 seats, anything over 65 will remove the SNP/Green majority.  

We decided to test our theory. 

We have an email list of around 1,900 people, around 1,200 are individuals who have signed up and the rest are pro-UK Councillors, MSP’s and MSP’s. Typically, around 600 open our update emails regularly. 

Two weeks ago we sent out  a Survey Monkey Poll which asked the question  "If the Scottish opposition parties agreed to field only one ‘constituency’ candidate in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2021, would you support this and vote for the agreed candidate?’  

A subsidiary question was “would you support any voting strategy “to get the SNP out?” 

Just to be clear, our target audience was pro-UK people because independence-supporting voters are hardly likely to support tactical voting to defeat the SNP/Greens, and our objective was to get some coal face evidence of the appetite for tactical voting if is supported and prompted by the parties themselves, 

We sent out two identical surveys, to private individuals and the politicians.  

Almost immediately we had around 100 responses from the individuals showing 99 per cent in favour. That was obviously from the real enthusiasts, so we waited to see if any more people responded. We got at total of 200 responses and the percentage fell to 98 per cent . Only 12 politicians’ responses, all in favour.

This was tremendous and surprising so we decided to test it a bit further and share the survey link on open pro-UK Social Media sites.  

We assumed that nationalists spotting it and piling in, and the wider, albeit still pro-UK, audience would dilute and reduce the percentage in favour. 

In fact the number of respondents went up to 860 and the percentage in favour fell only slightly to 96 per cent. 

This encouraged us to go for a bigger sample so, as a third test, we debated whether to commission a proper professionally run poll, or “boost” the survey on Facebook. 

We decided to spend £200 to “boost” it on Facebook to a rough combination of Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative voters, Express and Sun readers. It was seen by 21,000 people. 

We got another 1,000 responses, bringing the total to 1,891, four times what we would get on a professional poll. 

The percentage went down to 93.4 per cent and 70 per cent  said yes to the “would you support any voting strategy to get the SNP out” question. 

We have still to do a professional poll and the cheapest way to do this would be to insert our question in an “omnibus” poll, whereby it is included in a regular poll with other organisations’ questions to a representative panel of 1,000 people. By definition this would survey around 550 people who voted “NO” in 2014. 

I’m no statistician, psephologist, pollster or professional politician, but so far our self-selecting survey looks to me like a clear message from a very random sample of Scotland’s 2m NO voters that they want the parties to get their act into gear and save themselves, and Scotland, from, let’s be honest, near destruction of the parties and our country as we know it. 

Roughly 10 per cent of individuals who saw our poll responded and almost 100 per cent were in favour. What if we could have reached 10 per cent of 2m NO voters and even 70 per cent of them had been in favour, and these 140,000 had clear guidance and voted tactically as optimally as possible? 

This would surely have a significant, potentially election winning, Scotland saving effect.  

If you have any comments about our survey and what you think of a combined or tactical voting campaign please post them on the ThinkScotland Facebook page

Allan Sutherland is a co-founder of Scotland Matters 

ThinkScotland exists thanks to readers' support - please donate in any currency and often


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter & like and share this article
To comment on this article please go to our facebook page