Scottish referendum: who voted which way?

By John Burn-Murdoch and Aleksandra Wisniewska

Scotland voted on Thursday to remain in the United Kingdom, with the pro-union camp securing 55.3 per cent of the vote.

But what do we know about the groups who voted each way, or didn’t vote at all?

By comparing the results from each of the 32 Scottish council areas with their demographic and socio-economic identities, we can begin to get a rough idea of what factors may have influenced decisions in the polling booth.

So what do we find?

The most deprived areas had the highest Yes votes

The No vote tended to fall as the proportion of people receiving unemployment- or disability-related benefits rose, supporting the narrative that perceived social injustice was one of the driving forces behind the Yes vote. Turnout, however, was lower where receipts of these benefits are highest and where Yes came out on top.

Glasgow, where employment deprivation is the highest of all Scottish districts, saw the lowest turnout of 75 per cent. It was 10 percentage points below the figure for the whole of Scotland.

Sixteen-year-olds were given the vote, and they wasted no time in using it

The referendum marked the first time 16-year-olds have been able to vote in the UK, and the numbers suggest they repaid that gesture by turning out in large numbers. Across Scotland as a whole, turnout tended to be higher in areas with a larger population of people who had turned 16 in the last year.

Districts with younger voters tended to support the Yes camp, while the over-50s favoured protecting the union. A post-referendum poll from Lord Ashcroft found that 71 per cent of sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds voted Yes.

Higher earners were more likely to vote to stay in the UK

Broadly speaking, support for remaining in the union rose in line with income, possibly due to uncertainty surrounding the fiscal reforms that would have followed a Yes result.

The finding that Scotland’s highest earning regions voted No tallies with the Lord Ashcroft poll, which has respondents from the top social grade split 60:40 in favour of “no”- the biggest margin across all groups.

As expected, national identity played a clear part

Areas with high numbers of people self-identifying as Scots in the last census tended to post higher Yes votes, while those with more identifying as British came out in favour of No.

Download the data

*The number of people employment deprived is a count of the number of people claiming relevant benefits (Job Seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, or Severe Disablement Allowance), calculated as part of the Scottish Multiple Index of Deprivation.