Survation, 11th-13th of January 2021

Keep tabs on all the latest polling, articles and information ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election in the Ballot Box Scotland Holyrood Hub!

Fieldwork for the second poll of 2021, coming from Survation, overlapped entirely with the ComRes poll, in the perfect example of the two buses habit of Scottish polling. Although some of the data from this poll was drip-fed out earlier this week, it took until Saturday for the Holyrood data to be released. That allowed a third bus to come along in the form of a Panelbase poll, which I’ll cover in full within the next couple of days when tables for that appear.

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Regional Vote

SNP ~ 40% (-1 / -2)
Labour ~ 19% (-1 / nc)
Conservative ~ 18% (-1 / -5)
Green - 11% (+1 / +4)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8% (+1 / +3)
Reform UK ~ 2% (+1 / +2)
UKIP ~ 1% (nc / -1)

The changes here aren’t particularly substantial, amounting to slightly poorer showings for the big three parties, and better for the two smaller parties. Perhaps as a bit of a balancing act, 40% for the SNP is the lowest they’ve polled with anyone since last January, whereas 11% for the Greens is the highest they’ve polled with Survation since March 2019. Survation are one of the pollsters that tend to place the SNP low on this vote anyway, mind.

With the ComRes the other week also showing a Labour lead on this vote, Survation no longer look so out of kilter by having Labour ahead of the Conservatives. It’s a very narrow gap though, so even if these agencies are right on that front, it’d still be unwise for Labour’s leadership contenders to think a return to second place is in the bag.

Constituency Vote

SNP ~ 51% (-2 / +4)
Conservative ~ 19% (-1 / -3)
Labour ~ 19% (-1 / -4)
Liberal Democrat ~ 9% (+3 / +1)

Small declines for the SNP, Labour and Conservatives on the list vote are matched on the constituency side of things too. The Lib Dems have a notably substantial boost to their share here, up 3%, giving them their highest polling figure for this vote since just before the 2019 UK election.

Seat Projection

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

SNP ~ 68 (-3 / +5)
Labour ~ 23 (nc / -1)
Conservative ~ 19 (-1 / -12)
Green ~ 11 (+1 / +5)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8 (+3 / +3)

Although the Lib Dems are on a relatively high figure, it’s only slightly above their 2016 result, so when combined with the highly concentrated nature of their vote and the SNP’s increased share doesn’t project to any constituencies beyond their current bunch.

Anyway, the combination of secured Lib Dem constituencies and SNP polling low on the list means this is the lowest SNP seat share I’ve seen since October. It also makes this one of only two polls since the last election where my calculator would see them without any list seats at all. In an actual election I’d expect less of a gap between their two votes and even in this scenario they have a majority on constituencies alone, but notable nonetheless.

SNP ~ 48% (-3 / +3)
Labour ~ 23% (+2 / +4)
Conservative ~ 19% (-1 / -6)
Liberal Democrat ~ 7% (+1 / -3)

A rather weighty dip for the SNP here takes them onto their joint lowest figure since the 2019 election – only the very first poll after that had them below 50%. Most of the difference is made up by gains for Labour, who have a much healthier lead over the Conservatives here than at Holyrood.

Standard Question

Yes ~ 45% (nc)
No ~ 43% (+1)
Don't Know ~ 12% (-2)

Not a huge amount of movement here, with a slight bump for No as Don’t Knows drop a little, whilst Yes remains unchanged.

Excluding Don't Knows

Yes ~ 51% (-1 / +6)
No ~ 49% (+1 / -6)

That little bump for No translates through to a narrowing once we remove the don’t knows as well. That puts this on much more of a knife-edge than some other recent polling, and is down from a Survation peak of 54% for Yes by this measure in October. The overall polling average remains where it has been for the past few months, however, so we’ll need to see a few more polls before we can say whether this is part of a consistent trend back towards the Union.

Council Area Projection

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

On a simple Uniform Swing versus 2014, this might put a total of 15 Councils in the Yes column, an increase on the 4 in 2014. No would be on 15 too, down from 28 at the referendum. That leaves 2 councils – Angus and Midlothian – which project to entirely even splits!


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.

Changes here are vs AMS / vs same projection for the last poll.

SNP ~ 54 (-14 / -1)
Labour ~ 26 (+3 / -1)
Conservative ~ 23 (+4 / -1)
Green ~ 15 (+4 / +2)
Liberal Democrat ~ 11 (+3 / +1)

This hypothetical always shows a greatly deflated SNP seat share, with a recent low on the list vote naturally translating to a low in terms of seats. Everyone else benefits when the SNP aren’t able to get the boost from First Past the Post seats, though the caveat folk would vote a bit differently with a purely proportional system of course applies. A relatively strong Green vote however keeps the balance in favour of the Pro-Independence parties, at 69 seats versus 60 for their Pro-Union counterparts.

Scandinavian Style Westminster

Changes here are only versus the same projection on the last poll, given my aversion to doing projections on pure FPTP.

SNP - 29 (-1)
Labour - 14 (+1)
Conservative - 12 (nc)
Liberal Democrat - 4 (nc)

Very mild changes compared to the PR version of the last poll, but a sub-50% showing for the SNP means the total for the three Pro-Union parties just squeaks ahead.

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