Scotland was heading to a nail-biting finale in the vote on independence, the final survey of the two-and-a-half year referendum campaign suggested.
Live Scotland results: Referendum counts from 32 councils on day of reckoning for Yes and No voters
The survey for Ipsos MORI, published by the London Evening Standard as voting was underway, put the No camp on 53 per cent and Yes on 47 per cent. With a margin of error of three per cent, that confirmed a series of recent polls showing the contest was finely balanced.
It also found that, despite the torrent of publicity from both camps, that four per cent of Scots who are certain to vote had still not made up their minds.
They survey found that almost six in ten No voters were more motivated more by “fear” of the consequences of separation than of “hope” for the future. By contrast, eight in ten Yes voters said they were motivated more by hope than fear.
Men favoured independence by 53 to 47, while women were opposed by 42 to 58. People aged 25 to 34 were the most passionate supporters of independence, dividing 73 to 27 for Yes. Those aged over-55 were split two-to-one in favour of No.
Ipsos MORI interviewed 991 over-16s in Scotland by telephone on September 16 and 17.
The poll emerged during a morning of drama that begin with a surprise endorsement for Alex Salmond's Yes campaign from Andy Murray.
The tennis star tweeted: “Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this!”
The message was pounced on by Mr Salmond, who said: “I hear Andy Murray has hit another winner today, which is great news, and I think the message for Scotland is, let’s do it now… It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I think you can see it already from the number of people voting.”
As millions of Scots went to the polls this morning, fears of some elements voter intimidation were sparked after Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton, tweeted a picture of graffiti daubed on the wall of a polling station that said: "Vote Yes – or else".
The message follows reports last night that an elderly man in Glasgow, who is registered blind and usually carries a white walking stick, was punched in the face by a Yes supporter. The incident yesterday is said to have occurred when the man was handing out pro-union leaflets in the city’s George Square.
Also last night Ed Miliband was forced to pull out of appearing at two events over fears they would be disrupted by Scottish nationalists.
This morning, one Yes supporter, aged 44, was arrested by police after allegedly assaulting a man he believed would be voting No. He is due to appear at Dumbarton Sheriff Court tomorrow morning – when the final result is expected to have been announced.
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