Scotland’s turnout will likely benefit from a 'referendum effect'

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Polling over the past few weeks has indicated that Scotland’s turnout rate in the election will be higher than the rest of the UK’s.

A few weeks ago when looking at the sub-sample of Scotland for a UK wide YouGov poll I noticed that of those people absolutely certain to vote, Scotland’s percentage was greater than for any other region in the UK. A quick look at other polls further suggested that Scotland’s likely election turnout will be of a higher rate than the rest of the UK’s.

YouGov has now released a poll (for the Times) looking exclusively at Scotland. A bigger sample likely means more accuracy, and whilst polls are not predictors they are clearly indicating that Scots are more likely to vote in this election.

SEE ALSO: 'Referendum effect': Scotland set for higher turnout?

The YouGov poll has 80% of respondents saying they are absolutely certain to vote (down 1% the last time YouGov conducted a Scotland-only poll).

But why? In 2010 UK turnout was 65% whilst Scotland's turnout was 64%. Instead of following the trend of the elections it appears that Scotland is benefiting from a post-referendum effect. Referendum turnout was a remarkable 85% last year. People got engaged in politics and it is likely that that engagement is being sustained for the election.

Since the referendum, SNP and Green memberships have soared, but it is not just those parties who are seeing increased levels of turnout for the election (as suggested by the polls). People from all parties became more engaged.

The results were as follows for those intending to vote for each of the four main parties:

This clearly shows that turnout from people voting for a variety of parties could be just as high as in the referendum.

Scotland will likely be a key battleground in the election, what with the SNP surge, but in some ways the real winner will be democracy due to a renewed sense of political engagement.

The full results of the recent Scotland only YouGov poll can be accessed here.

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