Support for Scottish independence declined as more people said they were undecided ahead of next year’s referendum, according to a poll published today.
Backing for full autonomy fell to 30 percent of respondents from 33 percent in February, the TNS BMRB survey found. Those in favor of remaining part of the U.K. dropped one percentage point to 51 percent. The number of people saying they don’t know how they will vote rose to 19 percent from 15 percent.
Independence is the cornerstone policy of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party. The poll of 1,002 voters was taken immediately after Salmond announced last month that the referendum will be held on Sept. 18, 2014.
“Any reading of this as the settled will of the Scottish people would be misplaced,” Chris Eynon, who heads TNS BRMB Scotland, said in an e-mailed statement. “The contest for hearts and minds on Scottish independence has not even begun.”
The 21-percentage-point gap in favour of Scotland remaining part of the U.K. compares with 19 points in February, the first time the pollster used the question that will be put to voters in the referendum. They will be asked: “Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No.”
In earlier TNS-BMRB polls, using a question previously suggested by the Scottish government, the gap was 20 points in January, 25 points in October and 20 points in July.
Opposition to independence is much stronger among women than men, with 55 percent of women wanting Scotland to stay part of the U.K. compared with 25 percent backing independence. The percentage of men in favour of separation was 36 percent with 47 percent against it, the poll found.
Salmond’s hope of garnering support among young voters by giving the vote to 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds may not be realized, poll data show. The 23 percentage-point gap between those opposed to independence and those in favour is only exceeded by those aged over 55, according to TNS-BMRB.
No margin of error was given for the poll, which was carried out between March 20 and April 2.
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