Over the past week, the polls leading up to the Scottish referendum on Thursday have held remarkably steady. Each of the past four polls has the “no” vote at 52%, while “yes” for independence has hovered at 48%.
The “yes” vote has gained considerable momentum over the past month, but at least for the moment, it appears that it has halted. And if things continue to turn and the “no” vote ends up winning by a considerable amount, one electoral prognosticator thinks there might be a simple explanation: The queen.
Queen Elizabeth waded into the discussion about the possible breakup of the United Kingdom last weekend, making a passing comment that Scots should think “very carefully about the future” before they case their vote. Observers took it as a clear sign of where she stood in the debate.
Sam Wang, a professor at Princeton University who maintains an electoral forecast mainly geared at US campaigns, thinks if the “no” campaign shifts the momentum and comes out with a big win on Thursday, it could be evidence the queen’s words played a big part. She is one voice who is consistently popular in the polls.
“Of all these people who are involved,” Wang told Business Insider, “the one person who’s popular is the queen. She’s stayed above it all.”
If the results hold steady and “no” only wins by a narrow margin, then it won’t be clear if the queen played a part. But “if it’s wider margin, then maybe she did,” Wang said.
Wang estimates the referendum will be “extremely close,” but “no” is still clearly favoured. Those favouring independence have about a one-in-four chance of pulling the upset, Wang said.
In an interview with Business Insider, Wang mused about the difference between the subject he has followed closely this year — the midterm elections — vs. the Scottish referendum.
“I mean, holy s — !” he said. “Here we are, gassing on about the Alaska Senate race. … What happens in the Senate is only for two years. What happens in Scotland is forever.”
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