Supporters of Scottish independence from Britain have taken their first opinion poll lead since the referendum campaign began, indicating a real possibility that they might win, according to a YouGov survey for the Sunday Times newspaper.
With less than two weeks to go before the Sept. 18 vote, the poll put the "Yes" to independence campaign on 51 percent against "no" camp on 49 percent, overturning a 22-point lead for the unionist campaign in just a month, the Sunday Times said.
YouGov said that the results excluded those who would not vote and those who did not plan to vote or did not know how they would vote. With those groups included, secessionists would be on 47 percent and those championing the United Kingdom would be on 45 percent, it added.
It said that the poll, conducted after pro-independence leader Alex Salmond was widely judged to have won the second of two televised debates, amounts to a statistical dead heat at the moment. "The last poll ... was the first to represent a real possibility for a "yes" win ...," it said.
A separate poll by Panelbase, commissioned by the pro-independence campaign, showed support for a breakaway rising but still short of a majority at 48 percent. When undecideds were included, that fell to 44 percent.
After months of surveys showing nationalists heading for defeat, recent polls have been showing the gap narrowing to the extent that they raise the real prospect that secessionists led by Salmond's Scottish National Party (SNP) could achieve their goal of breaking the 307-year-old union with England.
A previous YouGov poll on Sept. 1 put the lead for the "no" to secession campaign at just six points, down from 14 points in the middle of August and 22 points at the start of that month.