Survation, 9th – 12th of March 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!

How can we tell the Holyrood election is drawing ever closer and the campaign is about to reach fever pitch? Well, the fact that we’ve had six polls just in the first three weeks of March. Throw in multiple by-elections every week and the ongoing series of party profiles, and it is an exhausting time here at BBS… well, this is Glasgow, so let’s go for tenements rather than towers.

This poll is the second in pretty quick succession from Survation. We didn’t get the full release of data from it until a week after fieldwork concluded, which is why it’s now quite a few days on before I’ve gotten to it. That also gave us another two buses situation, as a BMG poll with more recent fieldwork was released on Monday. As I generally try to avoid publishing more than one BBS item a day and Wednesday is party profile day, that one won’t be up until Thursday.

Display format for this post:

Regional Vote

SNP ~ 39% (+1 / -3)
Conservative ~ 21% (nc / -2)
Labour ~ 20% (nc / +1)
Green ~ 10% (-1 / +3)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8% (nc / +3)
Reform UK ~ 1% (nc / +1)
UKIP ~ 1% (nc / -1)

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the relatively short gap between them, there’s practically no change here. There’s a small shuffle of 1% from the Greens to the SNP, but that could easily be margin of error stuff. It does however lift the SNP from their recent lowest figure, even if that still places them below the 40% mark and thus down on 2016.

Constituency Vote

SNP ~ 46% (-4 / -1)
Labour ~ 23% (+3 / nc)
Conservative ~ 21% (nc / -1)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8% (+1 / nc)

There’s a lot more movement for the constituency ballot, with the SNP down 4%. Labour gain the lion’s share of that to put them ahead of the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems bump up a little bit.

Seat Projection

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

SNP ~ 61 (-6 / -2)
Labour ~ 26 (+2 / +2)
Conservative ~ 24 (+3 / -7)
Green ~ 10 (nc / +4)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8 (+1 / +3)

Not only is this not an SNP majority, not only is it their lowest projected seat share since before the 2019 UK election, but it’s the first time since then that they come out with a net loss of seats versus 2016. It’s only a very modest 2 seats, and of course the caveats about projections must be borne in mind, but this would clearly be a disappointment for them. The constitutional balance of the chamber would still be tipped 71-58 in favour of Independence when including the Greens, however.

Note also that Labour again manage to place ahead of the Conservatives despite lagging slightly on the proportional element of the system. That’s entirely down to the spread of votes, with Labour benefitting from a “better” spread for squeaking the last councillor in a few regions ahead of the Conservatives.

As one final point, remember this closeness between the two parties is basically unique to Survation, as I noted in a comment to the Daily Record on this poll. That doesn’t mean Survation are wrong (everyone else could be!) but it does mean to take the suggestion here that Labour would return to second with a pinch of salt.

SNP ~ 46% (-2 / +1)
Labour ~ 23% (+2 / +4)
Conservative ~ 22% (-1 / -3)
Liberal Democrat ~ 7% (+1 / -3)

The Westminster VI isn’t too far different from the Holyrood Constituency figures, with the SNP down and Labour back ahead of the Conservatives. Although it’s very marginally up on their 2019 result, 46% is the lowest the SNP have polled for Westminster since that election.

This poll was commissioned by Scotland in Union, who insist on continuing to use a non-standard framing of the constitutional question, rather than the standard Yes/No question that is the norm. That simply isn’t comparable and therefore does not feature in my coverage. 

Having had to explain the absence of this section, I look forward to folk on Twitter once again furiously tweeting how I must be biased because of my (clearly stated on my about page and hardly kept secret) membership of the Scottish Green Party. By contrast, Scotland in Union are of course unimpeachable paragons of impartiality, with no clear or obvious affiliation or desired outcome from any future referendum.

I also look forward to that being squared with the bit below where I go “hey, here’s a much better and more proportional voting system we could have that I’d much prefer on democratic grounds, ah and this time it gives a pro-Union majority,” which is some real nefarious 3D chess of a mislead, right?


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 ~ 51 (-10 / +1)
Conservative ~ 28 (+4 / +1)
Labour ~ 26 (nc / nc)
Green ~ 13 (+3 / -2)
Liberal Democrat ~ 11 (+3 / nc)

The usual story here of the SNP shedding seats to most other parties compared to our less proportional existing system. It also corrects the “wrong way round” placing of the Conservatives and Labour. The shuffling of votes between the SNP and Greens here also has an impact on the delicate balance between the two sides of the constitution, flipping this to a narrow 65:64 majority for the pro-Union parties.

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 - 27 (-2)
Labour - 14 (+2)
Conservative - 13 (-1)
Liberal Democrat - 5 (+1)

As you’d expect, the SNP would again be on a much lower count of MPs than FPTP is likely to deliver for them. That said, even under FPTP the fact Labour are up a bit would likely lead to them picking up a seat or two, whilst the Conservatives and Lib Dems may drop a couple.

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