WE have just edged past the two-month mark since the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament cannot hold an independence referendum without a Section 30 order. In those two months, we have had four polls asking Scots how they would vote in a General Election treated by the SNP, and other pro-independence parties, as a "de facto referendum".

Today’s FindOutNow poll for The National suggests that if the SNP fights the next General Election as a de facto referendum on independence, most Scottish voters (52%) would vote for the SNP. A further 2% would vote for the Scottish Greens, and 0.4% would vote for the Alba Party.

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In total, 54.4% of likely voters (excluding undecideds) who participated in the poll said they would vote for a pro-independence party, comfortably crossing the threshold at which the SNP would consider that they have a mandate to open negotiations over Scottish independence with the UK Government.

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That will hearten pro-independence activists who see the next General Election as their last roll of the dice, but we should treat these numbers very carefully.

Within this poll, if we include undecided voters the SNP, Scottish Greens, and Alba command just short of 49% support, with 11.2% of participants likely to vote undecided. Factor in a margin of error of around three points, and there is plenty of space for the pro-independence parties to fall short.

And this is, of course, just one poll. Across the four polls we have measuring voting intention in a General Election fought by the pro-independence parties as a de facto referendum, two (including this poll) suggest a pro-independence majority. Two do not.

An Ipsos poll in early December indicated that pro-independence parties would win roughly 55% of the vote in such a scenario. However, another December poll by Savanta UK suggested that they would win around 44% of the vote, and last week’s poll from Survation that they would win about 47%.

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On average, these polls indicate that in a General Election fought by the pro-independence parties as a de facto referendum, they would win precisely 50% of the vote.

While the FindOutNow poll does not include a standard Westminster voting intention question, the other three polls do. And interestingly, those standard questions – that do not ask participants to imagine that the pro-independence parties are fighting the election as a de facto referendum – show very similar, if not identical, vote shares as the de facto referendum questions.

No party’s vote share varies by more than three points between the two questions in any of those polls.

READ MORE: What the polls tell us about de facto referendum strategy

To me, this suggests two things that are not mutually exclusive. At this stage, the notion of a de facto referendum may simply be too abstract and meaningless to influence voters’ preferences. This is the case with any polling on ‘hypothetical’ situations – people can’t predict how they’ll react to unfamiliar scenarios all that well.

It may also be the case that, because independence is such a strong driver of voting behaviour in Scotland, even emphasising the issue in a poll question has little impact on how voters think about their choices.

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There is also the fact that total support for pro-independence parties in these de facto referendum polls does not vary significantly from the reported Yes vote in each poll.

All taken together, support for Scottish parties, de facto referendum or not, is strongly associated with support for independence. This is not groundbreaking stuff, but a helpful reminder that the fact of a de facto referendum – or any mechanism by which the Yes movement hopes to achieve secession – does not increase support for independence in and of itself.

We will not know how voters will react to a de facto referendum campaign until that campaign is underway. And we will not know whether pro-independence parties could win a majority of the vote until they are pro-actively making their arguments for independence as a vote approaches.