YouGov recently changed its method in the run up to the general election to account for respondents' likelyhood of voting by asking them on a scale of one to ten how likely it is that they will vote.
That change in procedure has only been in place for a few polls but one thing is becoming apparent. If the polls are to believed then turnout in Scotland could be much higher than in any other region/nation in the United Kingdom (in terms of percentage of the available electorate).
The YouGov poll conducted the 7th - 8th April gave the following results for those who said they were absolutely certain to vote:
London 69%. Rest Of The South 66%. Midlands/Wales 64%. North 66%. Scotland 82%.
The YouGov poll conducted the 8th - 9th of April gave the following results:
London 62%. Rest Of The South 66%. Midlands/Wales 65%. North. 65%. Scotland 82%.
And for the poll conducted 9th - 10th April:
London 63%. Rest Of The South 66%. Midlands/Wales 65%. North 68%. Scotland 85%.
Firstly, it is important to note that the polling samples for each region are smaller than for the whole poll indicating larger margins of error, which suggests that the numbers could be off. But if this trend continues in the coming weeks it will likely confirm that turnout north of the border will probably be higher than elsewhere.
But why? Two words: independence referendum. Last year’s referendum was about the future of the country, a decision which could not be changed every five years as with elections. A simple yes/no question to determine the future of a nation reengaged the people of Scotland with politics. And as a result 85% of people turned out to vote in the referendum. That’s more people than in any recent general election - and it looks like Scotland will retain such engagement for the election.
Other post referendum effects confirm this, particularly the surge in support for the SNP in the polls, combined with the rapidly increasing membership of Nicola Sturgeon’s party (now past 100,000), as well as the Scottish Greens who also backed independence.
Scotland changed in many ways after the referendum and a newfound engagement in politics was just one of these.
Further YouGov polls asking about certainty to vote will likely to confirm this and then election day will show just how high the level of engagement is.
And for those interested in engaging voters across the UK and even further a field, the referendum could be a good starting point to see what motivates people to vote.