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18 September 2014updated 21 Sep 2021 5:13am

How will women, men, the young and old vote today?

Looking at age, gender, class and party affiliation explains why unionists are more confident today.

By Harry Lambert

For more on Scotland explore our new elections site, May2015.com.

The final polls suggest a slender No victory tonight. But how will the different parts of the electorate vote? 

Different age groups

Looking at YouGov’s numbers over their past three polls suggests we can be sure how three age groups are voting. 25-39 year olds have been consistently and strongly pro-independence, while the over 60s have collectively always been pro-union. 

More specific data from YouGov’s final polls show that the bulk of that older support is from those older than 65. 60-64 year olds back independence as a group, but only by 7 points. 

It is also clear that 40-59 year olds are divided. YouGov’s last two polls suggest the age group is split 50/50.

But the numbers are far less clear on the young voters that so much commentary has speculated on. Just under two weeks ago YouGov suggested they were as pro-independence as any group, by 20 per cent. That then swung to a 6 per cent pro-union lead in their next poll before YouGov suggested they were also split 50/50 in yesterday’s final call.

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Could these voters could swing today’s result? They make up 15 per cent of YouGov’s sample – the smallest share. 35 per cent of voters are the divide 40-59 year olds, while around a quarter of voters are the pro-independence 25-39 year olds and pro-union over 60s. 

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Men and women

There is a clear gender divide. Men are, on average, pro-independence by 9 points, while women are pro-union by 12. As for their shares of the electorate, YouGov have women as 51.8 per cent of their sample. 

By social class

YouGov provide data on the class divide by just two groups – ABC1 and C2DE. Support for independence is down across both since they put Yes ahead, but they remain divided between “Yes” and “No”.

By political allegiance

Much of the talk after YouGov’s shock “Yes” poll (Sep 2-5 in the graphs) was the way Labour voters were moving towards independence. But they have now drifted back towards supporting the union. It is 2011 Lib Dem voters that have moved towards independence.

This is good news for unionists. Lib Dem voters are a small minority in Scotland – 5.5 per cent – compared to the 22.3 per cent who vote Labour. The powerful recent interventions by Gordon Brown may have helped stem any move by erstwhile supporters of his party towards separation.

These numbers show why unionists will await tonight’s results with confidence. Question marks remain, over both the youngest voters and the 24 per cent of YouGov’s sample made up by those who didn’t vote in 2011 but are set to today. But the data suggests the UK will remain one country tonight.