Can 'big data' predict indyref?

With just days to go before ‘indyref’, opinion polls put the Scottish independence referendum Yes and No camps neck and neck, with just a handful of points between them. (New indyref poll: Yes 48% No, 52% Herald Scotland)

indyref – Yes campaigners' Saltire
Is the ‘Yes’ camp further ahead than indyref polls suggest?

But is there data out there that can provide a deeper insight into the way people will actually vote rather than how they say they will vote? We know that polls can get it wrong, so is there a better indication of intent than the actual opinion of the poll sample?
Majestic SEO, a company which provides tools for search marketers thinks it may have the answer.
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In a recent blog, Society Disagrees Scotland is ‘Better Together’, Majestic’s Dixon Jones analysed links pointing to each official website, and, and believes the information gleaned from it shows that ‘Yes’ is further ahead than the polls give it credit for.

Indyref numbers – digging deeper

Screenshot – Majestic SEO blog
Overall, the data says it’s close, but look closely at where the links are coming from.

The search blog cites correctly predicting outcomes of the Mayor of London and Obama vs Romney elections, so its research should be taken seriously.
The article is a good read if you believe that the answer is already out there waiting to be researched, although it’s aimed at those with a fair understanding of SEO terminology.
To summarise, the blog shows that while on the surface, things look too close to call, many of the links going into the ‘No’ website are more likely to be from politicians or political groups, whereas ‘Yes’ is attracting more interest from the voting public. Quite a bit more in fact. And quite important groups to separate.
Also interesting to note is that, at the time of the research, quantity of links to ‘Yes’ were around 50% ahead of ‘No’, and consistently increasing with just days to go.
We will have to wait and see, but if Majestic have got it right, analysing so-called ‘big data’ could be incredibly important in future political campaigns. It might also clearly demonstrate once and for all that people don’t always do what they say when polling day comes.

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