September 18th 2014 will be the deciding day to see if the UK will continue to exist as it does right now or whether Scotland will break away to be an independent country, 307 years after the union was established in 1707.
The referendum taking place in the coming weeks will be one of the biggest decisions Scots has faced, and one, once decided, that is irreversible. Despite the closeness of the two nations, Scotland retains its own education system, church, legal system and media, but is currently presided over by Westminster. Emotions are running high in both countries as politicians attempt to convince Scots to vote for and against with SNP leader, Alex Salmond, arguing his point with several key MPs from the union.
The results of the Scottish referendum are in! 55.3 per cent said No to becoming an independent Scotland, voting to remain as part of the UK. Our long-term predictions following our big data analysis have proven to be correct as the No campaign has registered a small, but measurable victory.
While a unique campaign, our use of big data and social signals has allowed us to identify underlying voting intentions of the Scottish population, and the results have been proven correct.
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With a final day of campaigning remaining, poll data is strongly pointing towards a slender ‘No’ victory.
More worryingly for the ‘Yes’ campaign, online bookmakers Betfair are so confident of a ‘No’ vote they are already paying out, ranking the ‘Yes’ campaign as only having a 21% chance of victory.
Social signals continue to point to increased ‘No’ momentum as the largely passion based ‘Yes’ arguments are being continually outnumber by more factual based discussion, the majority of which is increasingly pushing for a ‘No’ outcome.
In recent days these swings to ‘No’ based arguments across big issues has gathered pace as the time of decision has grown nearer.
In the weeks leading up to the vote our own analysis has consistently predicted a steady win for the ‘No’ campaign with our final estimate putting ‘No’ ahead with 54% of the vote compared to ‘Yes’ 46%.
The late surge in ‘No’ based arguments surrounding big issues identified within our social signals may also indicate the winning margin may be wider than this when the final votes are counted.
Overall this referendum has offered a unique campaigning environment. Passion has been running high throughout and this has most likely skewed main polling analysis, with results likely to have slightly overstated true ‘Yes’ voting intentions.
Only a massive swing in the next 24 hours will see ‘Yes’ register a victory, however with national media likely to be offering a staunch neutral stance in the final hours (not wanting to alienate a significant proportion of their audience) this large swing is unlikely.
We do know for certain that a large proportion of the Scottish electorate will not get the result they want on the 18th of September, something which either campaign is not ready to deal with.
Weekend activity has seen the ‘Yes’ campaign make small gains however the last few days will see a final push from each side as the undecided voters become of utmost importance.
Analysis of historical polling data identifies a consistent mixed picture of responses. This may suggest actual voting actions are likely to differ from those intentions given in public.
This could offer an element of distortion on both sides as each campaign tries to offer an interpretation of performance moving into the final stages of campaigning.
Social signals indicate a strong swing back towards the big issues of ‘Economy’, ‘Energy’ and particularly ‘Political Systems’. Each side may do well to focus their attentions on key ‘big’ topics to argue their final cases.
Our data continues to point towards a small but measurable win for the ‘No’ campaign but we have seen before how ‘Yes’ momentum can be quickly gathered. Emotion is playing a large part in driving debate and opinion, something that can sway voters up until their pencils touch the ballot papers.
Any outcome however will leave a sizable proportion of the Scottish electorate with a system they will not have voted for, a difficult situation to move forwards for any elected system of governance.
Our analysis produced last Friday (05/09/2014) is beginning to be validated as Poll analysis indicates a significant swing back towards more historic share levels for the ‘No’ campaign.
Data indicates a general ‘Pro-Union’ slant within mainstream media, which interestingly has been picked up by the ‘Yes’ campaign, identifying this as an organised attempt to swing voting intentions particularly around ‘big business’ stories.
As with all campaigns, without mainstream media backing, victory is always unlikely. For the ‘Yes’ campaign to gather lost ground they will need to win over media at a top level which is looking increasingly unlikely.
While last week’s activity was definitely a boost for the ‘Yes’ camp, recent visits by main party leaders accompanied by mass media support has managed to stem the tide.
‘No’ campaign timing may be slightly better as momentum has shifted significantly in recent days however social signals show a renewed push from ‘Yes’ campaign supporters.
Overall however, while we expect a small narrowing in the next few days we are still maintaining our long held view of a small but measurable win for the ‘No’ campaign.
This week should go some way to shaping a more solid outlook for the referendum result as main party leaders head up from Westminster to push their individual pro-union messages.
This however has drawn a heated and passionate response from ‘Yes’ campaigners with social signals showing a heavy increase in volume above recent monitored levels.
Clear lines are continued to be drawn between ‘Yes’ campaigners high passion and ‘No’ voters more linear argument based outputs.
The economy has swung back into sharp focus with key issues beginning to become more prevalent once again.
Will the added media focus on core referendum issues this week help boost ‘No’ support alongside the shift towards devo-max timetabling or will the presence of main party leaders further the current ‘Yes’ momentum ?
Our data points towards a slender ‘No’ lead that continues to be diminished. The next few days may be pivotal in driving a final decision for the all-important undecided voters.
While the ‘No’ vote continues to be more vocal, polling data begins to show the ‘Yes’ campaign with a narrow lead for the first time, driving a picture of conflicting data.
Early moving undecided voters are crossing to the ‘Yes’ camp but with around 10% still up for grabs any result remains possible.
Social signals still point towards ‘No’ support continuing to outnumber ‘Yes’ although by a reducing margin.
Currency issues are the current hot topic as Sterling begins to slide on the exchange markets, driving ‘No’ support upwards within business related conversation.
This week however may present a turning point to both campaigns as main stream media begin to contribute even more strongly to the debate.
Early indications may point to ‘Union’ benefits being pushed more heavily, which could have considerable implications for the current wave of ‘Yes’ momentum.
We are beginning to see emotional support give way to more factual based arguments on both sides of the debate, a trend likely to continue as we near the final phase of the campaign.
Our overall projections still show a narrow ‘No’ victory but the margins have significantly reduced against a backdrop of continued ‘Yes’ momentum.
We are tracking information across multiple data sources and combining our analysis with social signals to create an equimedia take on how people are planning to vote.
Recent polls show the ‘Yes’ vote has narrowed the gap considerably in recent weeks but can they carry the momentum through to polling day?
Social signals indicate ‘No’ voters are becoming significantly more vocal as the race tightens up, with ‘Yes’ conversation begging to be significantly dwarfed by the ‘No’ campaign.
Defence issues driven by recent Natio/Russia news are currently forming key topics of conversation, broadly boosting arguments for the No campaign.
Overall our ‘big data’ analysis is starting to indicate that this may well be a high point for the ‘Yes campaign’ as if current trends continue the ‘No’ vote are most likely to regain their recent lost ground.
Undecided voters however are still key, as levels continue to remain at around 11%. Can traditional Labour voters be swayed by Ed Miliband’s Pro Union arguments? If not, momentum could suddenly swing back towards the ‘Yes’ campaign.
This blog will be updated on a regular basis as we move towards polling day; can our ‘big data’ driven analysis help us predict the final outcome? We will find out soon!
Anyone who currently lives in Scotland and has registered to vote will be able to take part in the referendum and there are plenty of conversations taking place about independence.