The news outlets of the UK have been headlining the release of a poll in the Independent that gives a narrow lead, for the first time, to the ‘Yes’ campaign for Scottish Independence. The importance of polls in politics cannot be overstated but they must be used cautiously. In some countries, polling close to the voting date is banned as polls can both represent a sample of existing opinion but also influence those undecideds in the population.

Equally, many of these news outlets failed to point out, very importantly, that the margin of error on the poll is plus/minus 3%. Therefore, it could actually mean that the ‘No’ campaign still retain a narrow lead (or conversely that the ‘Yes’ campaign are doing better than it appears). Either way, the statistical margin of errors in these polls are key.

The Scottish referendum will play a big part in the AS course this year – an example for Democracy (Unit 1), Elections (Unit 1), Pressure Groups (Unit 1), Parties (Unit 1), Constitution (Unit 2) and Parliament (Unit 2). Therefore the link above gives an overview of all the current news stories. Once the referendum occurs, another blog will follow!