For the reasons outlined in the introduction to this piece, Ballot Box Scotland was supposed to be on a break from Twitter, focussing primarily on the website and even then running shorter form analysis than usual of polls. Then the First Minister announced she was standing down. As much as I may wish otherwise, it’s not really possible just to disengage entirely when probably the biggest political event in Scotland since the referendum has just taken place. So I’m back-ish, earlier than I’d have liked.
With three polls having dropped yesterday (Friday the 17th of February), that would have been a polling overload at the best of times, never mind when I’m a bit knackered, have a day job, and had social plans for most of the evening. I know I always complain about the relative dearth of Scottish polling but c’mon, a little breathing room would help! Given both my previously stated intention to keep these pieces short and how many polls there are to get through anyway, I’m going to rush pretty quickly through them.
This first poll comes from Survation (link to tables), and was seemingly just self-funded. Before anyone gets too excited, this one started a whole two weeks before Sturgeon’s big announcement, so it reflects the state of play before that happened. This is the third Survation to be published this year, so they’ve been busy bees.
The previous Survation covered the 10th – 12th of January 2023. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).
This is a great example of the impacts of rounding, as despite the SNP, Labour, Greens and Reform UK being unchanged versus the last poll, the Conservatives and Lib Dems manage to lose a point each. Accounting for margins of error and this is basically a no real change poll. However, per Survation norm that means a pretty low SNP share with a relatively strong Green figure. I’ve historically pointed out Survation tend to find the best figures for Labour, but even leaving the two other polls that came out at the same time to one side, everyone else has settled on roughly this level too, so it’s no longer such an outlier.
Things are a little bit more fluid over on the constituency vote, with the SNP down and Labour up a little bit more than any of the movement in the list vote. In terms of fieldwork dates, this would have been the worst figure on this vote for the SNP so far this term, and a joint best for Labour.
Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:
With that narrowing gap between the SNP and Labour on the constituency vote, projections begin to flip more constituencies. Their previous constituency best since 2021 was 4, but here they pick up Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse for the first time. This leads to another, at time of fieldwork, worst projection of the term for the SNP. Nonetheless, they’d still be twice the size of their closest competitors, and inflation on the Green benches would contribute to a slightly larger majority for the SNP-Green government.
There’s something interesting that could be written about the similarities and differences between this mid-term and the 2016-21 mid-term, but I’m too knackered for it at the moment. It’s perhaps something that it would be useful to, say, pay me to contribute on another platform at some point in the coming weeks? Simply floating an idea to anyone with any commissioning or programming clout who might be reading…
Very little movement again over on the Westminster side of things, where the SNP and Lib Dems have both surrendered a point to nobody else’s gain thanks to rounding and lack of prompts for other parties. The SNP’s lead over Labour here is still just about solid, but a danger zone looms (this is called foreshadowing)…
The constitutional question remains stubbornly close, narrowing significantly to the benefit of Independence relative to the last poll. It’s probably worth the usual reminder this is largely bouncing around margin of error level movement, and we still seem to be in a general situation of “largely too close to call, but advantage to the Union.”
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.
The usual comment the RAMS version gets applies here – it’s more proportional, but it’s still AMS, and so there’s an SNP-Green majority…
… But when you move to the more fully proportional Scandi model, the vote lead for the Pro-Union parties correctly maps to a seat majority for that bloc.
Scandinavian Style Westminster
Although I mentioned earlier the SNP’s Westminster polling is approaching something of a risky patch for their seats, under FPTP it wouldn’t quite be there. Bring in PR though and, you guessed it, results look more like the electorate.
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