Poll Analysis: YouGov 16th – 20th of April 2021

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Overlapping precisely with the ComRes that we covered yesterday, YouGov finally dropped their first post-Alba poll, becoming the sixth agency to have included the new party. As is often the case when we have overlapping polls from different agencies, the two tell quite different stories.

As with the ComRes, there’s a bit of a blip with previous polling to explain. Changes here are versus a poll over the 19th to 22nd of March, but you’ll notice there’s no link to the corresponding analysis piece on BBS. That’s because that poll wasn’t published at the time, but is referred to in the tables. As far as I’m aware no explanation has been given for this. However, someone suggested to me on Twitter it may be that the poll was due for publication after the launch of Alba, and was dropped when the data was therefore overtaken by events. That seems as reasonable an excuse as any for it having gone missing.

For a third and final parallel with ComRes, I’ve gone into my tables and charts on here to account for that missing poll, but I haven’t gone back and written an analysis post for it. There’s too much happening right now for that level of backtracking – I’m writing this line at 10:30pm, having spent most of the time since finishing work on these two polls.

Display format for this post:

  • Party/Option – Vote% (Change vs last poll by agency 19th – 22nd of March / vs last election or referendum)

Regional Vote

SNP ~ 39% (-7 / -3)
Conservative ~ 22% (-2 / -1)
Labour ~ 17% (+2 / -2)
Green ~ 10% (+2 / +3)
Liberal Democrat ~ 5% (nc / nc)
Alba ~ 2% (+2 / +2)
All for Unity ~ 1% (+1 / +1)
Reform UK ~ 1% (+1 / +1)

Since this is the first YouGov since Alba launched, let’s start there – it’s 2%. That puts YouGov firmly amongst the “low Alba” pollsters, totalling five of the six agencies who have so far run a poll including them. That continues to give us evidence that Panelbase may be the outliers, and that Alba are cruising for either nothing or a solitary Salmond result in two weeks’ time.

Despite that very modest showing for Alba, there’s a huge chunk taken out of the SNP vote here, plummeting a whole 7%. That’s more than is made up for with the additional 2% that the Greens gain, bringing them into double figures and lifting them well above the (joint) term-low of 6% back in early March. 

Amongst the pro-Union parties, Labour have likewise effected a substantial recovery. YouGov have typically been the least favourable pollster for Labour, and indeed delivered them their term-low of 11% a couple of years ago, so 17% is a strong showing by comparison, albeit it’s on the lower end of their current average. The Lib Dems are basically static, whilst the Conservatives are down slightly. Rounding things out there are also single-point results for All for Unity and Reform UK. 

Constituency Vote

SNP ~ 49% (-1 / +2)
Conservative ~ 21% (-3 / -1)
Labour ~ 21% (+4 / -2)
Liberal Democrat ~ 6% (+1 / -2)
Green ~ 1% (-1 / nc)

Oddly, there isn’t any sign of that big SNP decrease over on the constituency vote, which means YouGov have gone from on the narrower end of the SNP’s polling gap to joining basically everyone else in expecting more of a chasm. It’s hard to say to what degree that represents tactical voting on either ballot, but we may get some more of an indication in next year’s Council Elections.

Anyway, Labour are also showing a strong recovery on this vote, up a rather mighty 4%, whilst the Conservatives drop by 3%. There’s also a very marginal increase for the Lib Dems, matched by a similar decrease for the Greens.

Seat Projection

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

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

SNP ~ 68 (+1 / +5)
Conservative ~ 27 (-4 / -4)
Labour ~ 19 (+2 / -5)
Green ~ 11 (+1 / +5)
Liberal Democrat ~ 4 (nc / -1)

Whereas the ComRes projected to the SNP being three seats short of an overall majority, here they are 3 seats over what they needed. That’s a reminder of how volatile polling is, how volatile AMS is, and indeed how imperfect projections are. I wouldn’t really advise putting money on either outcome for the SNP right now – we really can’t say which way it will go!

At the other end of the scale, it’s worth noting this is another Lib Dem low at just four seats. Three of the six pollsters to have done an Alba-era poll have projected to that outcome. I’d personally rate their chances in Edinburgh Western better than the model allows for, but this is why Alex Cole-Hamilton ended up on my list of at-risk MSPs earlier this week.

SNP ~ 48% (-1 / +3)
Conservative ~ 24% (nc / -1)
Labour ~ 19% (+2 / nc)
Liberal Democrat ~ 4% (nc / -6)
Green ~ 3% (-1 / +2)
Reform UK ~ 1% (+1 / +1)

It’s particularly nice to get a YouGov, because they are one of the few pollsters regularly running Westminster VI. As you’d expect, the SNP remain clearly dominant here, running ahead of their 2019 result. We can again see some of that Labour revival evident at Holyrood, though here it only brings them to the same low they were at in 2019.

This is another grim poll for the Lib Dems, bumping along on just 4% of the vote. YouGov are the only pollster finding them that low, but others have found 5% figures since 2019. There’s also an interesting little titbit here which is that in the unpublished late-March poll, they were tied with the Greens. I’d be somewhat surprised if that happened in an actual general election, not least given the Greens’ patchy record of contesting Westminster, but it hints at a potential longer-term solidifying of their vote at multiple levels.

Note: Changes here are with the 4th to the 8th of March.

Standard Question

No ~ 45% (+2)
Yes ~ 39% (-2)
Don't Know ~ 10% (nc)

Though YouGov continue to be slightly annoying in including “refused” and “wouldn’t vote” in their overall figures, this is notable as clearly the largest lead for the Union since polling turned at the start of 2020. Even when Yes was ahead, it tended to be narrowest with YouGov, so this perhaps fits with that pattern, showing a No lead when everyone else is closer to even.

Excluding Don't Knows

No ~ 53% (+2 / -2)
Yes ~ 47% (-2 / +2)

Obviously, that then translates to the most Pro-Union figure since the end of 2019 in the head-to-head figure as well. As I said in the ComRes, it’s too early to say for sure whether this is a trend or just noise, so we’ll have a better sense of that after a handful more polls from various agencies.

Council Area Projection

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

On a simple Uniform Swing versus 2014, 26 councils are likely to lean towards No, only slightly down from 28 in the referendum. Yes meanwhile is only up marginally with possible leads in 6 councils, versus 4 in 2014.

Other Independence Questions

This had one of those currently common questions on when respondents thought another Independence referendum should be held and under what circumstances. Starting with “this year, if there’s an SNP majority”:

  • Should be ~ 34% (-2)
  • Should not be ~ 54% (+4)
  • Don’t Know ~ 12% (-2)

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the ongoing pandemic, opinion appears to have hardened against a referendum this year. You’d expect a similar result for “this year, if there’s a pro-Independence majority”:

  • Should be ~ 31% (-1)
  • Should not be ~ 55% (+4)
  • Don’t Know ~ 14% (-3)

And there is, with a very slightly higher opposition. The final “this year” question is if there wasn’t a majority for Independence at Holyrood:

  • Should be ~ 19% (-2)
  • Should not be ~ 66% (+5)
  • Don’t Know ~  15% (-2)

Entirely as you’d expect, people especially don’t want there to be a referendum this year if there isn’t a parliamentary majority for one!

They then asked some simple future timescale questions without qualifying them based on a majority (or not) in Holyrood. First up, next year:

  • Should be ~ 29% (-4)
  • Should not be ~ 55% (+7)
  • Don’t Know ~ 16% (-3)

Again, hardening against the idea of one next year, likely due to the pandemic continuing to bite. For some reason they asked “before 2023” as if that’s not the same as “next year”, but it did get slightly different responses (they didn’t ask this last poll, so no changes):

  • Should be ~ 34%
  • Should not be ~ 49%
  • Don’t Know ~ 16%

Oddly, there’s slightly less resistance when framed this way. Finally, what about in the next 5 years, i.e. within this parliamentary term?

  • Should be ~ 44% (+2)
  • Should not be ~ 40% (+1)
  • Don’t Know ~  16% (-3)

For this one there’s a narrow lead for having a referendum, and indeed a very marginally wider lead than in the previous poll. 


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.

As the election approaches and polls are coming out more frequently, I’m jettisoning the actual map for this one for now. I still think it’s a fun and useful exercise, but it’s also time consuming to manually change 129 bubbles! (The AMS projection is only 56 bubbles, because the 73 constituencies are driven from a spreadsheet).

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

SNP ~ 54 (-14 / -6)
Conservative ~ 30 (+3 / -1)
Labour ~ 24 (+5 / +4)
Green ~ 14 (+3 / +3)
Liberal Democrat ~ 7 (+3 / nc)

Running the list vote through a more proportional model, the SNP have a far less commanding lead, and fall well short of a majority. Unlike with the ComRes poll however, there’d be a relatively small lead for the Pro-Independence camp when combined with the Greens at 68 vs 61 seats for 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 - 29 (-1)
Conservative - 15 (nc)
Labour - 11 (+1)
Liberal Democrat - 2 (nc)
Green ~ 2 (nc)

The SNP would fall just short of a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster under this PR model, whilst the Lib Dems would be tied with the Greens for the smallest delegation from Scotland.

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