In every election there are a few areas which become the focus for commentators and political groups on the big night. These are usually a mix of regions which are highly competitive, and those which should clearly come down to one side or the other. If this latter type of region doesn’t meet expectations it is usually a signal for how the night is going.
For Yes Scotland, Dundee is one of these areas. With one of the larger electorate groups in Scotland, Dundee is a major base of support for the SNP. Not only do they rule the Council, but have both Shona Robison MSP and Joe Fitzpatrick MSP as the city representatives in the Scottish Parliament, and Stewart Hosie as the MP in Westminster. Labour MP Jim McGovern is the only non-SNP representative at the Parliament level.
The share of the SNP vote in Dundee over the 2010, 2011 and 2012 elections are as follows;
2010 – 33%
2011 – 60%
2012 – 43%
In each case the vote share was above average. It is therefore no surprise that a lot of time has been put into campaigning by both sides in Dundee. There has been an expectation that the city will move towards a Yes vote, so any efforts made by Better Together to disrupt this would throw a major spanner in the works.
There has also been a major voter registration drive in the city, with nearly and additional 8% of residents signed up. Contrast this with the just below 3% bump in Glasgow. Yes Scotland has been hinting strongly that the majority of these are going to be on their side. As such political commentators and pollsters are paying particular attention to how the city breaks on the night.
In contrast to Dundee, Dumfries and Galloway has been given much less media attention, but with 6,000 more voters than Dundee, and a historic low levels of support for the SNP it is very much a place where Better Together hope to make a real impact.
With a local authority has not had a majority ruling group for many years, relying on coalitions. At the Parliamentary level constituency support is primarily for Labour and Conservative MSPs and MPs.
This high level of support for these parties is in contrast to the SNPs share of the vote;
2010 – 11.55%
2011 – 30.15%
2012 – 19.46%
These are some of the lowest levels for the party and perhaps one of the reasons no one has focused much effort in the area. This decision was backed up by a recent South of Scotland poll (which included Dumfries and Galloway) and found the following;
This was ten points lower than some national polling had claimed that the breakdown would be. A good showing for Yes in this area would be anything over 40%, and would suggest a considerable swing for the campaign.
What these two places show is the diversity in voting patterns which can be found, when you look beyond the top line polls. This may be a national vote, but it will be won and lost at the local level. Over the course of Thursday night, early Friday morning these two areas should serve as a guide as to the relative success of each side.