Poll Analysis: Savanta 3rd – 8th of May 2024

As if to rebuke me for suggesting recently it seemed like their partnership had wrapped up, we just got the latest entry in the ongoing series by Savanta (link to tables) for the Scotsman (link to original writeup). They couldn’t have timed it better though, as I’d been dying to hear from a pollster that wasn’t YouGov or Norstat, to breathe some fresh life into the various trackers and averages across the website.

Savanta always have absolutely loads in their polls, so if you’re curious you should definitely have a nosey through the tables. I am however going to keep this piece to the pure voting intention side of things, just because I spent a huge amount of time at the weekend on Boundary Review work, and have some by-election bits to catch up on too.

The previous Survation covered the 6th – 11th of October 2023. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).

Regional Vote

Labour will be thoroughly chuffed with this poll, as for every single aspect of it the phrase “this is Labour’s best result in any BBS standard-series tracked poll” applies.  For the SNP however, it’s a much grimmer time, as their losses here leave them only 1% above the worst figure I have for the party in my standard series tracker, whilst placing 6% behind Labour is by far the furthest behind they’ve fallen so far. Be aware though that one of Savanta’s known house effects is a lower SNP list vote share than other pollsters, finding low-to-mid 30’s even at points other firms were at about 40%. As ever, that’s not to say this is wrong, but instead that it’s different, and we need to keep those effects in mind.

It’s also not a fantastic poll for the next two parties, with both the Conservatives and Greens down a bit compared to last autumn. For the former that would significantly deflate their parliamentary representation, but for the latter it’s still better than the election and would secure them a handful more seats. Reflecting back on house effects, Savanta have tended to be a high Green pollster this term, so this feeds into other recent polls which are broadly “a little, but not much better than 2021.”

Lastly, the Lib Dems are back up into double digits here. I continue to be unconvinced the party really are in a position to double their share, as they are definitely the least prominent Holyrood party at the moment. I’m certainly not suggesting any growth is unlikely, just that it may be a more modest two or three points relative to 2021, rather than a whole five.

One further notable thing about Savanta relative to everyone else is that they prompt for neither Alba nor Reform UK. In addition to the question starting with a framing of “second vote” (terminology that should be taken out the back and shot by this point, not just in polls but in political discussion), that naturally gives this poll a slightly different shape to others we’ve seen recently, and may be why pretty much everyone is polling higher than in the most recent Norstat and YouGov polls.

Constituency Vote

Though Labour don’t quite overtake the SNP on the constituency vote, it’s still their best share yet, and it’s the first time the parties have tied in any poll in my tracker. As I’ve been remarking for a long time for Westminster, the fact Labour’s vote is much more concentrated than the SNP’s means a national tie will give them a significant seat lead, which is exactly what AMS is intended to counteract.

The Lib Dems are also up on this vote, but this otherwise replicates the last poll in putting them stronger on the list than the constituency. That adds to my being slightly dubious about Lib Dem shares at the moment, as all past experience has been the Lib Dems performing better in the constituency than the list vote. Of course there’s no guarantee that will be the case forever, but just on past experience it feels like these figures should be the opposite way around, which would still be a very good result for the party relative to 2021.

Savanta also don’t prompt for the Greens on this vote. Most other pollsters do by this point (I think only Survation don’t, at least of the regulars), so that does feel like a bit of a data gap, especially if the party does further ramp up constituency contests in 2026. I have said in the past that there’s clearly a difficulty in getting that side of things right, but it’s possible that more consistent polling on it might help do so!

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

See? Look how many constituencies Labour are estimated to pick up, twice as many as the SNP despite completely equal vote shares. In fact Glasgow ends up completely red, the first time that I can recall my calculator ever giving a region without a single SNP constituency MSP. They still have a lot more overall than they did in 1999, despite their overall tally falling to the 35 they won back then, and despite Labour taking a lead in 6 of the 8 regions, just as they had at that first election. That’s not the only historical parallel however, as Labour’s leading haul of seats only matches the total the SNP won in 2007. That is so far the weakest “winning” position for any party, so repeating it would leave Labour far short of a majority.

These figures do however offer Labour two choices for support, assuming the SNP are a non-option. They actually have a two party majority of 71 with the Conservatives here, theoretically smoothing negotiations for budgets by not having to wrangle competing parties. A more ideologically coherent traffic light arrangement with the Lib Dems and Greens would likewise have a comfortable majority with 70 seats. Oddly, the Lib Dems end up with more seats than the Greens despite the latter having more votes, which is just a quirk of each party’s pattern of support across the country.

Westminster continues this poll’s pattern of strong Labour results, putting them a good bit clear of the SNP. The Holyrood map, with a touch more red, perhaps gives an indication of what this could look like at Westminster level too. The Conservatives are also down a bit on this side of things, whilst the Lib Dems have a very modest single point bump.

Again, no prompting for anyone beyond the four parties with Westminster seats. Again there’s a sort of 50/50 on whether that’s a useful thing or not in this context; neither the Greens nor Reform UK will win seats, and both will be squeezed by the vote, so just not prompting for them might get something close to a “real” result. On the other hand, it does throw my averaging off not having them in the mix. 

There’s only so many times I can write “oh look, the cursed numbers again, this question is pretty close, it isn’t really following what is happening to parties, no one should be complacent” before both you and I lose the will to live, but that’s what this says. Pretty standard figures at the moment, margin of error movement in the Union’s favour, which remains ahead overall.


As ever, the last little bit of analysis concerns those hypothetical and more proportional voting systems that BBS likes to play about with. The use of pure FPTP at Westminster 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.

Scandinavian Style Westminster

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