Poll Analysis: ComRes 3rd – 9th of September 2021

Scottish polling has once again done its best impression of an urban bus service, as we waited ages for one, and then two of the bloody things show up at once. Given recent political events, most notably the formation of a cooperative government between the SNP and the Greens, that does at least make some sense. This poll from Savanta ComRes (for the Scotsman) covers almost exactly the same period as the one from Opinium, with just an extra day of fieldwork tacked on at the end. However, it took a few days to publish the tables, hence the delay on this piece.

Changes for Independence intention are versus the last ComRes poll from the 11th – 14th of May / last election or referendum. As that poll had no other voting intention it in, it doesn’t have an accompanying post. The Holyrood figures are, of course, only versus May’s election.

Regional Vote

What’s clearly most remarkable here is that whopping 13% figure for the Greens, the joint highest they’ve ever polled. In addition to one way back in 2015, you may recall the very last pre-election poll this year (from YouGov) also had such a figure and it proved rather overblown. It’s also in stark contrast to the 8% in the overlapping Opinium poll. We’re too early on – this is only the third poll overall since the election – to have any sense of new trends specific to particular agencies yet, so it’s hard to explain this.

Pre-election, ComRes did start out as one of the higher-end pollsters for the Greens, but that had largely ceased by the end of the campaign, with their final poll finding 9%. It does however carry on their (relatively) low SNP figures, which they quite heavily lowballed in May, so that combined with far fewer “other” voters may explain some of the difference. All that said, no party ever turns their nose up at “record high polling” so expect to see the Greens trumpeting this one a fair bit.

It’s all a bit less dramatic across the constitutional aisle, with static showings for the Conservatives and Labour. The only other increase is for the Lib Dems, which may be a comfort to their new leader. Bear in mind however that whereas the Greens have recently tended to underperform against polling but still grow their support, the Lib Dems commonly hit 7-8% mid-term, then come out with their same old 5% on the day.

Constituency Vote

As if to make up for the dramatic Regional side of the poll, the Constituency element is dull as dishwater. The only real change is Labour dropping 2% – which you can be certain would have no impact on their constituency haul whatsoever.

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

As you’d expect, the Greens would win big in this projection, coming out with 13 seats. The overhang is going haywire here though, given how big the gap is between the SNP’s two votes. With only two SNP list MSPs to drop, most of the change therefore comes from the Conservatives, whose lower placed list MSPs are the ones making way for Green gains. It similarly hampers Lib Dem regrowth, limiting them to just one further seat and blocking a second. 

Views on SNP-Green Deal

ComRes framed their question on the SNP-Green deal differently to Opinium, though the overall figures are broadly similar. In total, about 44% of respondents supported the deal, versus 36% who opposed it, and 20% who were either neutral or didn’t know. Strength of feeling was more intense amongst opponents than supporters, with 26% strongly opposing versus 18% strongly supporting.

ComRes didn’t do Westminster voting intention before the Holyrood election, and it looks like they haven’t started afterwards.

Whereas Opinium had a very narrow, margin of error level lead for Yes, there’s a slightly larger but still marginal lead for No here. Support for Independence is however up versus the last poll. This feeds into a sense that the swing back to the union has currently stalled, but it also clearly isn’t going into full reverse yet either. More data yet needed, but either way, we’re still very much in the space where the country is to all intents and purposes split right down the middle on this.

Timing of a Referendum

A lot of different timescales on offer from ComRes! I have to admit that I think the gradation at the longer end of the scale may have been unnecessary given we do struggle a bit with long-term thinking as a species, but they asked what they asked.

In total, about 50% of people would be fine with seeing a referendum within this term of parliament, though only 34% support the Scottish Government’s current timescale of holding one in 2023. Just shy of half, around 46%, of people would prefer not to have a referendum this term. In fact, most of those would prefer never to have one ever again.


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.

SNP overhang is so severe in this poll that it even shows pretty strongly in this improved version of AMS with 16 more seats up for grabs. So even though there’s just 1% between the combined SNP-Green vs Con-Lab-LD shares and this reformed model aims for a degree of national proportionality, the seats fall 81 vs 64. The lesson here, as it always is in my view, that FPTP is Not Very Good to include at all.

By contrast to either the actual or reformed AMS projections, making it Scandinavian comes up with a much more reflective knife-edge result. The cooperative government totals a bare majority of 65 seats here, versus 64 for the pro-Union opposition.

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