Poll Analysis: ComRes 16th – 20th of April 2021

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After a little lull in polling, the two week mark for the election brought two brand new polls with it. It hasn’t been uncommon for us to get a double publication, but I think this is the first time fieldwork has perfectly overlapped. I’m taking the ComRes first simply because I knew it was coming and woke up earlier this morning specifically to report it – I hadn’t known there was a YouGov due too. Perhaps a double whammy makes up for people being very kind and not releasing any polling whilst I was moving house?

As a little aside, ComRes recently reported that they’d made a few errors in their December, January and February calculations. Correcting that took the SNP, Green and Yes figures down a bit, and the Labour, Lib Dem and No figures upwards. I’ve gone through and feed that onto the relevant tables and charts here, but I haven’t went back to the polling analysis pieces for those polls. Being so close to the election has me very busy, never mind that house move, and I only have so much time!

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Regional Vote

SNP ~ 38% (-2 / -4)
Conservative ~ 23% (+2 / nc)
Labour ~ 17% (-1 / +2)
Green ~ 7% (-2 / nc)
Liberal Democrat ~ 5% (-2 / nc)
Alba ~ 1% (-2 / +1)

The April ComRes wasn’t affected by their blip, so this all compares directly. It might just be that the numbers are rotting my brain, but there’s a real pattern of twos here – the SNP, Greens, Lib Dems and Alba all down by that much, and the Conservatives up by that much to give them their best result in over a year. Only Labour break the trend by gaining a single point.

For Alba, that 1% is the worst they’ve polled since they were founded. I’m increasingly sure that those 6%ers in Panelbase are outliers, and this is much closer to the truth – a truth that won’t be much fun for Salmond and his crew. Speaking of outliers, a continued decline for the Greens remains unique to ComRes – everyone else is finding them steady or improving.

Not shown directly in the above figures but perhaps evident from the fact decreases heavily outweigh increases is a whopping 7% of the vote for “Others”. There isn’t any breakdown in the poll itself between those parties, but it perhaps reflects the (joint) busiest ballot papers voters have ever had. That said, I am slightly dubious about the prospect of that many voters plumping for no-hope parties in a campaign defined by the pandemic and the constitution!

Constituency Vote

SNP ~ 46% (-3 / -1)
Conservative ~ 25% (+2 / +3)
Labour ~ 20% (+2 / -3)
Liberal Democrat ~ 6% (nc / -2)

Two more twos (help, my brain is fully melting) here, as both the Conservatives and Labour gain that much, versus a decline of 3% for the SNP. Again, that puts the Conservatives on their strongest support in over a year.

Seat Projection

Please see this page for how projections work and important caveats.

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

SNP ~ 62 (-3 / -1)
Conservative ~ 32 (+7 / +1)
Labour ~ 23 (+1 / -1)
Green ~ 7 (-3 / +1)
Liberal Democrat ~ 5 (-2 / nc)

ComRes are getting into a bit of a seesaw by my projections, having been projected to a minority in March, then a bare majority in the earlier April poll, and now back to a minority. There would still be a majority for pro-Independence parties when the Greens are included, though the total number would be unchanged versus 2016. Similarly, the pro-Union parties also project to a shuffle of just one seat amongst themselves, making this very close to the last election.

In line with this being their best poll in some time, this is also the best seat projection for the Conservatives since March last year. I’m also pretty sure it’s the first since then that shows them gaining constituencies from the SNP, albeit individual seat projections always need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

No Westminster Q in this one.

Standard Question

No ~ 48% (+3)
Yes ~ 44% (-1)
Don't Know ~ 8% (-1)

In recent polls I’ve tended to talk about how everything is on the margin of error. That’s still just about true here, but at a lead of 4% for No, this would have been the biggest lead for the Union since last year were it not for YouGov coming out with a larger one on the same day. We’re now moving from the point of me saying “it’s all margin of error, who knows” to where I start saying “we’ll need to see a few more polls to determine if this is a trend or just bouncing around” again.

Excluding Don't Knows

No ~ 52% (+2 / -3)
Yes ~ 48% (-2 / +3)

Take the Don’t Knows out and we get everyone’s favourite numbers, a 52:48 split between No and Yes. That’s still pretty close run, so see the point above about it being unclear whether we’re still just margin of error or moving conclusively back towards clear majority support for the Union.

Council Area Projection

Please see this page for how projections work and important caveats.

On a simple Uniform Swing versus 2014, we might expect around 23 councils to lean No, down from 28 at the last referendum. Meanwhile, 9 seem favourable to Yes, up from 4 in 2014.

Other Independence Questions

This had one of those currently common questions on when respondents thought another Independence referendum should be held:

  • In the next year ~ 17%
  • In the next two years ~ 16%
  • In the next five years ~ 13%
  • In the next ten years ~ 7%
  • Longer than that ~ 13%
  • Never ~ 25%
  • Don’t Know ~  9%

That gives a very narrow lead of 46% of respondents supporting a referendum in this term of parliament, versus 45% who don’t, and 9% who are unsure.

There was also a question about a Unilateral Declaration of Independence – i.e, Scotland declaring itself independent without the agreement of the UK Government. That’s a democratically shaky option, to say the least, and the question itself framed it as being “the closest thing to a suggested strategy put forward by Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.” Asked whether they’d support it, the responses were:

  • Strongly Support ~ 13%
  • Somewhat support ~ 11%
  • Neither ~ 16%
  • Somewhat oppose ~ 9%
  • Strongly Oppose ~ 38%
  • Don’t Know ~ 14%

Overall, almost twice as many people would oppose that course of action as would support it. That’s hardly surprising, given the myriad problems with UDI as a concept, and the fact it is pretty well settled after 2014 that a referendum would be the key test of support.


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.

As the election approaches and polls are coming out more frequently, I’m jettisoning the actual map for this one for now. I still think it’s a fun and useful exercise, but it’s also time consuming to manually change 129 bubbles! (The AMS projection is only 56 bubbles, because the 73 constituencies are driven from a spreadsheet).

Changes here are vs AMS / vs same projection for the last poll.

SNP ~ 54 (-8 / +2)
Conservative ~ 33 (+1 / +5)
Labour ~ 25 (+2 / +1)
Green ~ 10 (+3 / -2)
Liberal Democrat ~ 7 (+2 / -2)
Alba ~ 0 (nc / -4)

The large amount of support for “others” in this poll makes a more proportional version slightly odd, as everyone above the 3% threshold does a fair bit better than their share would otherwise suggest. Although there’s a tie in overall share above threshold between the two camps, the pro-Union parties would narrowly squeak a majority with 65 seats to 64.

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