Scottish Referendum 2014

Fall 2014, Columbia University School of Journalism

Analyzing the Scottish Referendum

'Yes' campaigners celebrate Scotland's referendum date.

Photo credit: Twitter/@YesScotland

Scotland’s potential future as an independent country was at the forefront of UK politics last week, when the Scottish National Party (SNP), a left-wing party with increasing influence since 2010, turned the referendum into a close race. Most interestingly, however, their campaign was less centered on demonizing their close ties to the UK as it was on emphasizing the importance of self-reliance. Such findings are illustrated in the Lord Ashcroft published poll conducted on September 18th and 19th, days after the referendum.

In order to understand the growing power of the SNP, we must first look at previous votes within the country and understand what the party breakdown was like by vote to substantiate the fact that the influence of the political party has in fact grown. The two most recent votes in Scotland prior to the referendum were the Last Westminster Vote in 2010 and the Last Holyrood Vote in 2011. Voters in each voting instance were allowed to reregister their party affiliations, and it is these changes over time that are most telling of the SNP rise.

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This chart indicates how the SNP affiliation grew by 8% between the 2010 and 2011 votes while all other party affiliations decreased.

In the most recent Scottish Referendum, the political party that came out strongest in favor of independence from the UK was the SNP. Conservative Party voted the most strongly against independence, closely followed by the Labour Party.

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Most interestingly, when asked in Lord Ashcroft’s survey to rank the three following statements, people who voted in favor of independence cared more about the principle of independence for Scotland than the type of rule that Scotland has been experiencing through it’s current relationship with the UK. This is best illustrated in the chart below.

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Other interesting facts about the Scottish Referendum:

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The 65+ population came out the strongest against independence from the UK. Contrary to the belief that when you’re young, you’re most liberal, over 50% of the 18-24 population also voted against independence.

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The majority of people who voted in the 2014 Scottish referendum reported always knowing how they were going to vote.

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If we look at how people actually voted, people who voted “yes” to Scotland becoming an independent country, decided more recently on how they would vote in comparison to people who voted “no”.

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For people who voted “yes”, Disaffection with Westminster politics was the largest issue that influenced the way that they voted.

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Conversely, those who voted “no” ranked the pound and pensions to be the top issues of importance when they decided how to vote.



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