Hot on the heels of my very own Survation poll, and indeed with fieldwork mostly overlapping, came a BMG poll for the Herald. This appeared to get pretty muted coverage, and it wasn’t until nearly two weeks after fieldwork concluded that it caught attention when the pollster published the tables. Nonetheless, this is a nice little treat from a polling nerd point of view, as it adds another source to our polling mix after a run of Savanta ComRes efforts.
As this is the first BMG poll since last year’s election, Holyrood changes are versus that election only. Their last poll before then covered the 27th to 30th of April 2021. Changes for Westminster and Independence are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).
First things first – that’s the SNP’s lowest polled share on this vote since the election. They’ve still got a solid lead over their competitors, but at a full election this would be their worst figure since 2007. Labour meanwhile continue to poll in second place. Although their advantage over the Conservatives is pretty slim here it’s the third poll in a row, all by different agencies, to show them squeaking ahead.
Moving over to the smaller parties, the Greens are a bit below some of their recent highs but still just breaking into double digits. Similarly the Lib Dems aren’t at a peak but still doing very healthily compared to their past few election results. Finally, a 3% share for Alba is the best they’ve seen since the election. I’d caution against their supporters being too buoyed by this – though I’m sure some highly suspect analysis will, ahem, pop up if it hasn’t already – as this is entirely within margin of error. They’d need to see this much more sustained and over a longer time for it to indicate actual growth.
As ever, the SNP’s position on the constituency side of things looks substantially better for them. However, this is again their lowest figure of the term thus far, and therefore this is their worst poll overall. Labour’s lead over the Conservatives is even narrower here, and even more in the “statistical dead heat” territory, but they’ll no doubt still be pretty pleased to see this.
Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:
Worst polling figures of the term naturally leads to worst seat projection for the SNP – though the other four parties would give an assortment of limbs to have 61 seats as their weak result. Although 10 is also the lowest the Greens have projected to (and have done so a few times), that’d be an improvement for them, and the co-operative government between those parties would be easily returned.
On the other side of the aisle this is joint with the Survation poll for Labour’s best possible seat tally so far, and continues a trend of comparatively bleak figures for the Conservatives – though note the SNP’s constituency decline is projected to tip a couple of constituencies their way. The Lib Dems are on the upper end of their projections, and this is the first time since the election my calculator has given them (albeit extermely narrowly) the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency.
In keeping with the “worst poll of the term” theme for the SNP, this is again the worst Westminster share they’ve had since the 2019 election. Indeed, it’s the first poll to put them anywhere below the 45% they received then.
Substantial gains for Labour give them a much more comfortable lead in this part of the poll, well ahead of the Conservatives. The Lib Dems continue to poll quite poorly for Westminster, and the Greens make a relatively rare appearance – ComRes don’t ask Westminster and Survation didn’t prompt for them.
When BMG last polled the constitutional question, they found a straight tie between the sides. Nearly a year on and they join the bulk of pollsters in suggesting the advantage currently lies with the Pro-Union side. Things are still close, however, and as I often do I remind everyone this is not a comfortable position for either side.
If you’re looking at this going “great, Independence is higher than in 2014, so throw in a campaign and it’s going to win” or “see, Independence is dead, this is as good as winning a referendum” I have many, many beans I can offer you at a bargain price. Perhaps it’s just a side effect to being so involved in the number crunching, but it’s truly mind boggling how sure partisans on both sides are of the inevitability of their victory!
As ever, the last little bit of analysis concerns those hypothetical and more proportional voting systems that I have a bee in my bonnet about here at BBS. The fact Westminster uses pure FPTP is an affront to democracy, and though Holyrood fares far better, AMS is still deeply imperfect. The examples here simply transpose the poll findings onto more proportional voting systems – the reality is that different systems would of course result in different voter behaviour.
For the moment, although the maps are useful for illustrative purposes, I’m opting just to show these hypotheticals as charts. It’s very time consuming making maps, and for these pure hypotheticals, it’s possibly a bit overkill.
Tweaking AMs to be more proportional and two notable things happen. Firstly, rather than being a comfortable re-election, the SNP/Green co-operative government would have the barest of majorities at 73:72 seats. The second is that having hit the 3% threshold, four Alba MSPs would troop into Holyrood under this model.
If you’re an avid reader of these analysis pieces, you might have seen this bit coming, but use an even more proportional voting system and not only do the SNP and Greens come up short of a majority (58 vs 71), but even throwing another batch of four Alba MSPs still has the constitutional balance against Independence (62 vs 67).
Scandinavian Style Westminster
Applying a similar fully proportional system to Westminster would give Labour a clear lead over the Conservatives, and similarly lead to a majority of representation for the pro-Union parties.
If you find this or other Ballot Box Scotland output useful and/or interesting, and you can afford to do so, please consider donating to support my work. I love doing this, but it’s a one-man project and takes a lot of time and effort. All donations, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated and extremely helpful.