Poll Analysis: Ipsos MORI 22nd – 29th of November 2021

When we got YouGov’s first post-Holyrood poll last week, I said how pleased I was to have something from a fourth pollster. Imagine my delight at not even having to wait a week for our fifth, as Ipsos MORI have just come out with their first poll since May’s election, on behalf of STV. Pollsters, with these Rocher diverse data sets you are really spoiling us! What a treat.

As this is the first Ipsos MORI poll of this Holyrood term, changes for that part of the poll are versus May’s election. For Independence only, changes are versus the previous Ipsos MORI from the 30th of April to 3rd of May / versus election.

Regional Vote

All polls are a treat to a nerd who runs a polling website, but how tasty it is to you as an ordinary reader may depend entirely on your constitutional persuasion. For the Pro-Independence bloc this is a very positive poll, with both the SNP and Greens up substantially versus their results in May. Alba however continue to barely register, as they limp towards the crunch local elections next May.

For the Pro-Union parties it’s a less palatable mirror image, as the Conservatives and Labour are both down a fair chunk, giving the latter their worst poll of the term thus far and putting the Greens within striking distance of third. Although the Lib Dems counter that somewhat with a small increase, that’s weaker growth for them than in most other recent polls.

Constituency Vote

It’s even more clear-cut over on the constituency vote – both of the Independence parties in Holyrood are up, and all three of the Union parties are down. The Greens are the only party here not with either their best (SNP) or worst (Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem) figure since May. If you’re familiar with the workings of AMS, you can probably guess at least one part of the projected outcome from this side of the poll alone…

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

If you’d guessed from my hinting above that the SNP would have a majority, you’d have been correct. We always have to bear the imperfections of projections for FPTP especially in mind, but with the SNP gaining and every other party with constituency seats losing out, the model naturally hands even more of them and thus a majority to the SNP.

Most notably, Labour end up without any constituencies at all, and hell freezes over as the SNP shift the Lib Dems out of Shetland for what I’m sure is the first time ever in a BBS projection. The Greens end up with the most projected gains overall, whilst the Lib Dems might at least manage to regain their North East list seat in the churn.

No Westminster VI in this poll, as with the last Ipsos MORI.

This is probably the most dramatic finding in the poll, with a pretty hefty lead for Independence standing in stark contrast to the recent “close, but Union-favourable” trend. Over on Twitter, someone who’d know about such things made the point that whereas most polls in Scotland are online, Ipsos MORI do phone polling.  That means this isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s simply different.

That said, these guys have always tended to find the strongest Independence figures, so there’s probably still a few pinches of salt worth taking here. Regardless of exact figures either way, polling overall continues to indicate an unsettled constitutional picture, with no reason for either side to be particularly confident.

Also unlike other pollsters, they didn’t ask any questions about the timing of a prospective referendum (or Independence), so nothing more to add here. They do however have a lot on party leader ratings and what issues are ranked as important that’s worth casting an eye over, even if outside what I normally cover here on BBS.


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.

As ever, what drives the SNP majority under the current system is the preponderance of constituency seats. Since this improved AMS model equalises the number of regional seats and allocates some of them off the national vote, the SNP don’t end up any better off than under the current system. They therefore wouldn’t have a majority here, though the combination with the Greens would still give a healthy lead for their cooperative government.

Similarly, if we use a system entirely proportional to the list vote, the SNP are quite far from a majority. But again, when you add an expanded Green group into the mix, there’d be an easy majority for the Pro-Independence parties. 

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