Scoop Analysis: 20th – 25th of October 2023

Starting in December 2021, the Scottish Election Study have been running a periodic poll called the “Scottish Opinion Monitor“, or “Scoop” for short. This asks a range of different questions, and since November 2022 it has included voting intention questions. These polls are conducted by YouGov, but for reasons outlined below differ slightly from their usual voting intention polls. I noted in February that I would be providing analysis of Scoop output as normal, but identifying it as such separately from other polling.

The previous Scoop covered the 9th – 13th of June 2023. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election). Note that Scoop polling uses slightly different methodology to YouGov’s usual polls. As such, YouGov themselves have previously issued the following disclaimer:

… the voting intention results used slightly different wording and did not include YouGov’s standard turnout weighting and so should not be directly tracked to other YouGov voting intention figures as they are not identical. Instead, they should be tracked to other SCOOP voting intention polls conducted by the Scottish Election Study…

Ballot Box Scotland follows this advice and therefore reports Scoop on a Scoop-to-Scoop basis, rather than comparing with other YouGov polls. This is in principle similar to how reporting changes between polls follows each individual polling company, rather than comparing between different ones. I also do not include Scoop polls in my rolling averages, given that ordinary YouGov polls feature in that and much more frequently. None of this means that there is anything wrong with any of the data reported here, just that it is tracked as part of a separate series than the rest of the polls I report on!

Note also that whilst Scoop publishes the tables for each poll, these tables do not exclude people who say they Don’t Know, Wouldn’t Vote or Refused/Skipped the question. As YouGov only present their tables with percentages of the sample rather than the exact number of respondents those percentages reflect, it’s not possible to work out a perfectly accurate share once excluding the people who didn’t give a clear voting intention. For this entry however, the SES folk kindly sent me the exact figures.

Regional Vote

The crucial proportional vote continues to narrow versus the last Scoop, giving a dead-heat between the SNP and Labour. That’s based solely on Labour gaining a couple of points, as the SNP remained static. The Conservatives meanwhile appear to have flipped into reverse gear, and with a notably much worse performance than in recent polls within the normal series. That means the unchanged Greens are relatively close behind.

The Lib Dems meanwhile lose a point (though like everything else in this poll that’s within margin of error) but are still up on their 2021 share. Reform UK are a little bit bouncy in Scoop it seems, though that’ll likely be down to their small voter base anyway, and here that brings them back up to my arbitrary 3% threshold for more proportional systems. Alba are totally unchanged as well, continuing to fail to show any benefit from the SNP’s troubles.

Constituency Vote

There’s a much more significant narrowing over on the constituency question, as here the SNP actively lose support as well as Labour gaining. That puts the two parties within just 2% of one another here. Although I’m keeping the Scoop series separate from everything else, this is nonetheless the narrowest SNP lead over Labour on this vote this side of the referendum.

Like the list side of things, the Conservatives are down a bit to a comparatively low share. The Lib Dems move the opposite way here with a single point gain, and the Greens also pick up two extra points to what is a joint-record best for this vote. Regular readers will be familiar with my musings on the difficulty of getting Green constituency vote polling “right”; the short version is folk finding 2-3% are definitely underestimating versus what they’d get if they stood everywhere, folk on 5-7% overestimating versus the likely reality of them standing in just a few seats.

By timely coincidence though, New Zealand just released the (nearly, bar some recounts of close constituencies) final results of their 2023 election. They use a similar voting system to Scotland albeit with a single national list, and the Greens contested (as far as I’m aware) every constituency. This time around, the New Zealand Greens got 11.6% of the list vote and 8.3% of the constituency (electorate) vote. That’s not a million miles off what their Scottish counterparts have in this poll, and whilst Scotland is not New Zealand, it does suggest this is a “reasonable” split to expect between the two votes.

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

The SNP’s seat advantage continues to diminish here, with their three-seat lead coming down mostly to a two-seat overhang in the North East. There’s no overhang anywhere else, so the fact the SNP’s “ideal” projected outcome would be 44 to Labour’s 43 despite the tie in list votes simply reflects how that vote is spread. Caveats about constituency projections in mind, note that there’s a tie in seats at that level despite the SNP’s vote lead, and the Greens have a slight imitation of their Kiwi colleagues with a (rare) Glasgow Kelvin win.

Obviously, the combined SNP-Green Government total of 59 comes far short of the 70 for the Pro-Union bloc. Unlike some other recent polls however, Anas Sarwar’s route to a stable term in Government isn’t solely reliant on the Conservatives, as the traffic light arrangement of Labour-Lib Dem-Green squeaks an alternative majority of 66 seats.

The Westminster question is where the Scoop polls have most radically differed from polls in the normal series. At the point in February when the overall polling average was about an 11% SNP advantage, Scoop said a mere 2%. By June, when the normal series was more like a 7% lead for the SNP, Scoop had a Labour lead of 3%. Here, with the SNP leading in my most recent normal series average by 5%, Labour lead by 6%, which would almost certainly hand them a majority of Scottish seats. That’s a really interesting difference and, I emphasise again, not necessarily one that’s wrong just because it’s different.

Everything else here is a lot less dramatic anyway, never mind in comparison to that. Like Holyrood the Conservatives are down a smidge, at the lower end of recent polling. The Lib Dems likewise drop a point, and the Greens hold steady on a smaller share than the Holyrood constituency.

Something that distinguishes recent YouGov polls in general, not just the ones in Scoop, is the constitutional question running less close than other pollsters. Whereas the polling average hasn’t gotten any closer than a 6% lead for the Union lately, these kind of 10% lead, status-quo with 2014 situations are quite common with YouGov. “As close as 2014” is still too close for this not to be a major defining issue in Scottish politics, but it’s a lot more comfortable for the Union – and uncomfortable for Independence – than polls showing a statistical tie.


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

Note that this is the first Scoop 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.

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