Panelbase, 30th June – 3rd July 2020

Panelbase, with these prolific polls you are really spoiling us! This is now the third poll in a row that has come from Panelbase, so I’m hoping someone has a YouGov or a Survation commissioned to break the monotony. On the bright side, having a regular monthly poll at the moment is certainly proving useful. This poll ran from the 30th of June to the 3rd of July.

Display format;

Holyrood Voting Intention and Projection (Tracker)

Regional;

  • SNP – 50% (+2 / +8)
  • Conservative – 18% (-1 / -5)
  • Labour – 15% (-1 / -4)
  • Green – 8% (+1 / +1)
  • Liberal Democrat – 6% (-2 / +1)

Although none of the swings here are particularly massive, they give overall figures which are pretty dramatic. The SNP’s upward trend has them at significant risk of altitude sickness. Whilst figures of 50% or more haven’t been entirely uncommon for the constituency vote, to be polling half of the vote for the proportional side of the system is truly incredible. This is their highest figure for this vote since the 2016 election, and even before then they’d only crossed this line a couple of times before. On the other hand, the Conservatives being on 18% is the worst they’ve polled since that election, having lost a whopping 8% since March by Panelbase’s reckoning.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems also drop slightly compared to last month. In each case this has them towards the lower end of their polling range, but avoiding any historic lows. That slight improvement for the Greens is pretty middling in terms of their overall polling spread, but is their best figure with Panelbase, who have tended to find the lowest shares for that party.

Constituency;

  • SNP – 55% (+2 / +8)
  • Conservative – 20% (-1 / -2)
  • Labour – 15% (-1 / -8)
  • Liberal Democrat – 6% (nc / -2)
  • Green – 3% (nc / +2)

As ever, the constituency vote largely reflects the same dynamics. Again, this is the SNP’s highest figure for this vote since 2016, and the Conservative’s lowest.

If we do the usual projection into seats, it might look like;

  • SNP – 74 (+1 / +11)
  • Conservative – 23 (-1 / -8)
  • Labour – 17 (-2 / -7)
  • Green – 10 (+5 / +4)
  • Liberal Democrat – 5 (-3 / nc)

If you guessed that the SNP’s highest results and the Conservatives’ lowest would therefore give each party respectively record seat shares since 2016 then… you know how PR works. The other notable aspect of this poll is the Greens doubling their seat share thanks to that extra 1%. This is partly an indication of how close the Greens were to additional seats in 2016, and partly that with the list seats so tightly contested due to SNP dominance, the loss of 1% by another party can easily flip multiple seats. The net effect is a projection with the most lopsided majority for Pro-Independence parties since 2016, at 84 to 45, just two seats shy of two-thirds.

Westminster Voting Intention (Tracker)

For whatever reason, it took until a couple of weeks after most of this poll was released for the Westminster VI to appear. That came out at;

  • SNP – 53% (+2 / +8)
  • Con – 21% (nc / -4)
  • Lab – 19% (nc / nc)
  • LD – 6% (nc / -4)
  • Green – Not stated separately from “Other”, which was 2%

Not much of a surprise that the Westminster vote tells a similar story of the SNP reaching a new peak – this is almost their best result for a UK poll as well, behind a 54% in April 2015. The oddity of the SNP going up whilst the other three parties listed remain static is partly due to rounding, and partly that there was a small decrease in the Greens + Other vote. In the last poll it was 18 responses (2%) for Greens, and 4 (<1%) for Other. This time, the Greens weren’t prompted individually, and the overall “Other” category had 18 responses (2%).

Constitutional (Independence Tracker)

Changes for this one are versus the 15th to 19th of June, as there was a separate Independence poll by Panelbase across those dates. Looking first at the full results;

  • Yes – 50% (nc)
  • No – 43% (nc)
  • Don’t Know – 7% (nc)

Probably unsurprising given the timescale that there are no noticeable changes versus the last poll. However, that poll itself (which as a standalone didn’t get a post) was remarkable for being the first time in a long while that Yes hit 50% without removing Don’t Knows. This is therefore the joint second highest Yes has polled since the 2014 Referendum – as (Our Lord and Saviour) Professor Sir John Curtice* pointed out on Twitter in a grand ol’ slapdown, there was an outlying Ipsos MORI in between the 2014 Independence and 2016 EU votes which had a low 50’s figure.

Once we take out the Don’t Knows;

  • Yes – 54% (nc / +9)
  • No – 46% (nc / -9)

That would nearly be the mirror image of the 2014 result, which of course went 55-45 in favour of the Union. If we do another for-fun projection for this, now that I’ve created some generic rather than poll-specific maps for a wide range of possible results on this question, we might see around 21 Council areas vote in favour of Independence, versus 11 in favour of Union.

We’ve now had 8 polls on Independence this year, 6 of them via Panelbase, and 5 of them have had leads for Independence, 2 have been tied, and one had a lead for the Union. That means that Independence has now had a widening lead in the (arbitrary) last 5 polls measure on the tracker page since the 26th of March, which is the longest period that has been the case in pretty much ever.

It’s still a relatively narrow lead, at 48% vs 44.8% when including Don’t Know figures, and may be substantially influenced by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, whether you are for Independence or Union, this is a remarkable period. With Independence set to be a defining issue of the 2021 Holyrood Election, it’s going to be fascinating to see whether this trend continues or if the pro-Union norm reasserts itself in any way.

Coronavirus

As is common at the moment, there was also a Coronavirus related question. This was how well various leaders were doing in their response to the outbreak. With all due respect to Angela Merkel, I’ll not be making time to report her figures, as they aren’t massively relevant. The lack of relevance bit also applies to Donald Trump’s figures. That leaves Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Starting with the FM;

  • Very Good – 40%
  • Good – 34%
  • Neither – 11%
  • Bad – 7%
  • Very Bad – 7%

So 74% of respondents considered Sturgeon’s response to be Good in either intensity, compared to 14% Bad. What about the PM?

  • Very Good – 6%
  • Good – 15%
  • Neither – 17%
  • Bad – 19%
  • Very Bad – 41%

Johnson comes out at 61% (rounding!) Bad and 21% Good. More than three months into this crisis, and how the public view the two leaders is as night and day. As noted earlier, this may be playing a significant part in the current high for Independence, and therefore if perceptions change it’s highly likely the attitude to Independence will too.

Hypotheticals

The usual little batch of “what if we did things more proportionally?” titbits to finish things up. First up, the much more proportional Scandinavian style system (changes vs AMS projection / vs last poll)

  • SNP – 66 (-8 / +3)
  • Conservative – 24 (+1 / -1)
  • Labour – 20 (+3 / -1)
  • Green – 11 (+1 / +2)
  • Liberal Democrat – 8 (+3 / -2)

This time the SNP do “deserve” their majority in proportional terms, as with 50% of the vote they have more than the 48% for the other eligible parties combined. It really can’t be overestimated how remarkable it is for a single party to be polling 50% of the vote for a proportional voting system in this day and age. If you compare Germany for example, which has long used a system like the AMS that we actually use, you have to go all the way back to 1957 to find the CDU/CSU winning 50.2% of the list vote. In Sweden, one of the countries that informed the development of this hypothetical system, the Social Democrats managed 50.1% in 1968, an election that had 5 parties represented versus the 8 in 2018.

Nonetheless, more proportionality would take a big chunk of their seats and redistribute them primarily to Labour and the Lib Dems, with an extra seat each for the Conservatives and Greens too.

Then we can look at the Westminster version (changes only vs last poll as I don’t FPTP project Westminster);

  • SNP – 32 (+1)
  • Conservative – 12 (-1)
  • Labour – 11 (nc)
  • Liberal Democrat – 4 (nc)

Although there are no changes for the other three parties (that rounding and small dip in the “other” column), since the SNP were up a couple of % they had to gain a seat versus this projection on the last poll, which came from the Conservatives.

 

The other wee bit of fun is to compare a range of different tweaks and reforms to the Scottish Parliament electoral system, almost all of which are more proportional than the current system, but mostly not as radical as complete replacement of the system.

* I should note that my regular reference to (Our Lord and Saviour) Professor Sir John Curtice is meant with deep fondness, as he is of course the leading Scottish and UK expert in psephology, making him a bit of a hero!

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