Support for a Yes vote on September 18 has been given a major boost following the Alex Salmond-Alistair Darling TV independence debate, fresh analysis of polling data has shown.

Crucially, undecided voters - who will play pivotal role in the outcome of the referendum – judged the First Minister to be the clear winner of the first televised contest.

And significantly the ICM poll taken for The Guardian immediately after the debate revealed a dramatic increase in support for Yes among women and older voters.

Overall, excluding 'don't knows', support for Yes increased by two per cent over the two-hour debate from 45% before the contest to 47% after.

Polling also shows that among undecided voters, Mr Salmond was seen as a clear winner – by 74% to 26%. For those who were undecided before the debate, the figures were 55% for the First Minister and 45% for Mr Darling.

Compared with the previous ICM poll - in July (for Scotland on Sunday) - support for Yes increased by nine percentage points to 42%, including undecided voters – the highest backing for Yes in any ICM poll since the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.

And when ‘Don’t Knows’ are factored out, support for Yes rises from 43% to 47% while No has slipped from 57% to 53% - a 4% swing to Yes.

Comparing last night’s ICM poll for The Guardian with the ICM poll in July, the biggest rise in support for Yes is among women – up by 9%. And the poll shows greater support for Yes among women (48%) than men (45%).

And compared to the previous ICM poll in July, the greatest increase in age-group support for Yes was among the over-55s - up by 9 points.

Commenting on the poll analysis, Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins said: "After a two-hour debate, support for Yes increased by two points to 47 per cent - a 4 point swing from the last ICM poll. We are winning decisively among undecided voters, and the debate generated big increases in support for Yes among women and older voters. We are winning where it matters, and I am extremely confident we will achieve the small swing now required to achieve a Yes majority on 18 September.

"The post-debate poll analysis shows that momentum remains with Yes - our optimistic and positive vision for a more prosperous and fairer Scotland is chiming with more and more people. It is particularly encouraging that as they weigh up the arguments, increasing numbers of women and older people are moving to Yes.

"This debate is about who is best placed and most trusted to make decisions about Scotland’s future – the people who live and work here and care most, or a Westminster system that is out of step and out of touch with the priorities and aspirations of people in Scotland. In a two-hour debate, Alistair Darling didn't have a single positive word to say.

"Support for Yes continues to grow because when people hear the arguments they realise that by seizing this unique opportunity to take our future into our own hands, we can turn that vision of a better and fairer Scotland into reality."



The undecideds

Among people who were Don’t Know at the end of the debate, the First Minister was seen as winning the debate by 74% to 26%. For those who were undecided before the debate the figures were 55% for the FM to 45% for Mr Darling.


The poll showed support for independence rose during the programme.  Before the debate, including Don’t Knows the Guardian ICM poll was:

Yes 40%

No 46%

After the debate it was:

Yes 42%

No 47%.

A 2% rise for Yes over 2 hours.


On a binary basis it was:

Yes 45%

No 55%

After the debate it was:

Yes 47%

No 53%


Again a 2% rise for Yes over 2 hours.

Compared to the previous ICM poll from July for Scotland on Sunday support moved from 33% to 42% for Yes - +9%

On a binary basis it went from 43% to 47% for Yes and 57% to 53% for No – a 4% swing to Yes

Strong performance among women

The Guardian/ICM poll shows greater support from women than it does amongst men – Women 48% Yes to 52% No / Men 45% Yes to 55% No

Compared to the previous ICM poll from July for the Scotland on Sunday the greatest increase in supportfor Yes was amongst women - +9% amongst women to +7% amongst men

Biggest shift to Yes amongst elderly

Compared to the previous ICM poll from July for the Scotland on Sunday the greatest increase in age group support for Yes was amongst the over 55s at +9% compared to +8% for 17-34 and +6% for 35-54 year olds

Don’t Knows thought First Minister had the better arguments

The Don’t Knows before the debate thought the First Minister had the better arguments by a margin of 52% to 48% for Alistair Darling. After the debate this had grown to 56% for the First Minister to 44% for Alistair Darling.

It is the highest pre-binary support for independence ever since the 2011 election at 42% - previous highest was 40% in January 2012


ICM tables can be viewed here:

Previous ICM poll for Scotland on Sunday, Sample: 1,002; Fieldwork: 7th-11th July 2014

ICM Debate poll for Guardian, Sample: 512; Fieldwork: 5th August 2014


# advocat 2014-08-06 12:23
I was very pleased to hear Alex Salmond's calm and measured arguments, he came across very statesman-like, whereas Darling was almost hysterical at times.It was a foregone conclusion that the uk press would be on the side of better together after the debate. The media in general has always rubbished the concept of Independence for Scotland.
It was the same when the SNP won the Scottish election, but won it despite them. Yes campaign supporters know that its not the chattering classes who, in the end will decide.
# neoloon 2014-08-06 12:39
Unionist newspapers today doing their best to "big-up" Darling at the expense of Salmond.
Unionist newspapers continue to see the Yes campaign as solely the prerogative of AS.
Of course we know it is not. The people of Scotland, not an individual politician, will win it for Yes.
# Al Ghaf 2014-08-06 12:44
Suspect Darlings victory is a bit like when Labour won the last council elections. The victory only happened in the media analysis.
# Marian 2014-08-06 12:55
Some comments elsewhere have remarked on the fact that Darling was wearing spectacles.

The most obvious reason would be to try and cover up his incessant blinking and eyebrows that have a life of their own when he gets agitated - which is often.

However another unusual suggestion that had been made is that he was getting help via them - see
# neoloon 2014-08-06 16:01
Seems Darling is flipping spectacles instead of houses.

Should've gone to Eck-savers.
# Jacque De Molay 2014-08-06 13:43
The MSM do not matter anymore - people do not trust them (the few that still read them that is)
# andy-cap 2014-08-06 14:33
I would say Alex Salmond influenced undecided voters because he laid out a plan of what a future Scotland could look like under independence, Alistair Darling however, laid out nothing, he couldn't even name two of the useless powers that may be foisted on Scotland, which vision would you choose, austerity or hope.
# millie 2014-08-06 20:19
I’ve just rewatched a repeat of ‘the debate’ (BBC Parliament Channel)- I tried to watch it dispassionately as I think an ‘undecided’ would have viewed it.

Many things stood out about the structure/format of the debate from STV - it was very poor on many levels - the audience should have been silenced- the constant disruption did not allow the debate to develop- at times Salmond was barely able to answer due to their noise.

I listened carefully to Salmond and saw his calmness. He was not ruffled, gave answers that people could understand- mentioned child poverty, trident, education, bedroom tax, mismanagement of UK economy by Westminster.

I think he would have appealed to ‘undecided voters’- I only wish he had mentioned the privatisation of the NHS in England and the knock on effect this will have on Scotland’s funding.

The NHS situation is the thing that has swayed 2 of my relatives from ‘undecided’ to ‘yes’.
# rankie 2014-08-07 16:28
If all the undecided put on a bet with the betting shops to bet on a yes vote at 4/1 and they all vote yes in the polls the problem would be solved and the yes side would win,
£100 would give you £500 back

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