Poll Analysis: Savanta 6th – 11th of October 2023

After their summer break, regular partners Savanta (link to tables) and the Scotsman (link to original writeup) are back with the first poll (entirely) after the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election. It’s also a pretty standard timing from that partnership, coming just before the SNP headed into their autumn conference, exactly when they often like to take the temperature. That makes this a useful first look after what may prove to be a watershed moment in Scottish politics.

The previous Savanta covered the 9th – 14th of June 2023. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).

Regional Vote

Most of the movement here isn’t particularly significant in statistical terms, but what there is nonetheless tells a story. By squeezing an extra percentage point out of the respondents, Labour take one of just a handful of leads they’ve managed to take over the SNP in any vote since the 2014 Independence referendum. That still leaves the two sub-30%, with a slightly larger bump for the Conservatives pulling them back into the 20’s as well, their highest share on this vote since March.

The Greens are unchanged as Savanta continue their trend of finding them at the upper range of their support, but that ceases to be the case for the Lib Dems, who drop to their average level of support here. Statistically speaking that’s the most significant change here, being just outside margin of error when you consider that margin narrows the further from 50% you get. Whether that’s simply Savanta “correcting” for highballing them in the last poll or a sign of a genuine shift back from the Lib Dems to their larger Pro-Union counterparts is hard to say at this point.

Constituency Vote

Over on the constituency side of things, the SNP retain the lead they’ve consistently had here, this being the only one of the three core voting intention questions that they haven’t tied or come second in any BBS-tracked poll so far. They still lose a weighty 3% of their share here to put Labour within touching distance. Similar to the list vote, the Conservatives recover slightly, seemingly at the expense of the Lib Dems who haven’t polled this poorly on this vote since September last year.

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

As if to reflect the fact that the two parties had a lead on one side of the poll each, my model has this as a straight tie between Labour and the SNP, both on 40 seats. They almost tie in terms of constituency tallies as well, which has helped to largely eliminate the SNP’s overhang, which is a single seat in the North East. That is at Labour’s expense however, so a “perfect” AMS result would have seen Labour with the edge at 41 to 39.

Loosened SNP overhang also allows their government partners to pick up a couple of extra seats relative to the last poll, despite an unchanged vote overall. Gains and losses for the Conservatives and Lib Dems respectively naturally map to similar shifts in seats for those parties. Caveats about constituency projections firmly in mind, that poor Lib Dem constituency vote figure also translates to this being the first poll since May’s Ipsos to see them fail to pick up Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.

As with other recent polls, this would create a sticky situation at Holyrood, with the SNP and Greens beating Labour and the Lib Dems, lacking a majority themselves, and no possibility for an alternative traffic light (Lab-LD-Green) majority. That’d mean Anas Sarwar’s appointment as First Minister almost certainly requiring active Conservative support rather than simple abstention.

A Labour lead on the Holyrood list, the SNP led on the Holyrood constituency, so to complete the set we’ve got a tie between the two on the Westminster vote, borne of the SNP dropping 3% whilst Labour squeak another point up again. Similar to the other votes, the Conservatives are up and Lib Dems down, though 6% has been a more common Lib Dem result here. If you read these analysis pieces regularly this shouldn’t be a shock to you, but we can be pretty certain that on a vote tie, Labour would easily emerge as the largest bloc amongst Scottish MPs.

Speaking of things I’ve written over and over again by this point, there’s a tiny shift away from Independence here that is so statistically inconsequential it doesn’t actually change the excluding Don’t Knows figure from the last poll. Despite the collapse in SNP support, the constitutional question remains on a knife-edge, even as the prospect of the question actually being asked is extremely remote. We’re unlikely to see movement on polling without movement on process, yet without movement on process we won’t see movement on polling – the central catch 22 of our constitutional conundrum.


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.

I don’t usually attach a note to this one (I rarely attach notes to the hypotheticals in general these days), but if you’re really, really eagle-eyed you might notice this has a new line relative to all the previous versions. “Full Green Slate” takes the figures from the summer special which hypothesised what that might have looked like in 2021 and applies swings from polling to it.

Scandinavian Style Westminster

Note that this is the first Savanta since the final Westminster boundary changes were submitted, so the figures here sum up to 57 rather than 59. I’ve therefore recalculated both the previous poll and the 2019 result to match 57 seats. Unlike the FPTP reality, a tie between the two biggest parties naturally leads to a tie in seats as well.

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