LONDON (Reuters) – Opinion polls, financial markets and bookmakers are unanimous – Scotland will reject independence in a historic referendum next month and the United Kingdom will endure.
But what if, as Scots nationalists believe, the polls are wrong? Experts say it is a possibility.
The Sept. 18 vote, the first of its kind in British history, has thrown up unique circumstances which make forecasting the outcome unusually difficult. Surveys are consistent on trends but diverge when it comes to the size of the gap between the two campaigns.
Few are ready to exclude an upset.
“Pollsters are particularly nervous given the disparity between them,” John Curtice, a professor at Strathclyde University and a leading authority on polling, told Reuters.
“Some of the polls are definitely wrong because they don’t agree. We just don’t know which ones yet. This is a pretty tough call for the polling industry.”
Scots pollsters recall 2011, when the pro-independence Scottish National Party confounded expectations to win its first overall majority in the Scottish parliament.
That election was conducted using a different electoral system to the referendum, but the memory of what was a major political shock lingers.
Pollsters are also haunted by two occasions when they called national Britain-wide elections spectacularly wrong – in 1970 and 1992, won by Edward Heath and John Major respectively.
“The dates are etched on pollsters’ hearts,” said Curtice.
Yet the current picture, if averaged out, looks unambiguous.
Read more at Reuters