Poll Analysis: YouGov 8th – 13th of September 2023

With the Scottish Parliament back in session following the summer recess, thankfully bringing an end to the silliest summer silly season I can recall, Scotland is getting back into the swing of politics. In addition to a by-election in three straight weeks (the last being a dramatic UK Parliament affair), YouGov published this poll last week. Given the Times were first to report on it, I’d initially assumed it was on their behalf, but I think it might have been YouGov self-funded. This piece has taken a little longer than usual due to some web issues on YouGov’s end with the tables, but they did very kindly send them to me on request. (Now also available online here)

The previous YouGov covered the 3rd – 8th of August 2023. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).

Regional Vote

Although it looks least dramatic here, the list vote demonstrates the consistent thread throughout this poll, which is Labour losing ground. At a 3% dip, that’s at the very upper margin of error, and although that only seemingly goes 1% to the SNP and keeps the margin between the two parties in single-digits, that’s a good bit wider than other polls over the past few months.

The only other party with any movement versus the last poll are the Conservatives, who’d had a very poor performance in the previous YouGov. Again, we’ll see that small recovery repeated through the voting intention here, though it’s still a big loss relative to the 2021 election. YouGov continues to find relatively middling figures for the Greens and high-ish for the Lib Dems, whilst Reform UK remain a smidge ahead of Alba in the also-ran pile.

Constituency Vote

There’s even less movement overall over on the constituency side of the equation, with Labour’s 3% again spreading in such a way that the only effect that makes it through rounding is another 2% bump for the Conservatives.

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

Those losses for Labour naturally eat away at their projected seat share, losing a big chunk of their seats primarily to the Conservatives, albeit this would still be a very poor result for the latter. The SNP are up a handful too, but they continue to overhang significantly (as you can see in the hypotheticals further down), costing other parties a total of 10 seats, including 4 for their Green partners in government, relative to the ideal AMS apportionment.

It’s worth noting that YouGov polls have yet to fail to project to an SNP-Green majority in my model at any point this term so far, though their April poll came out at a bare 65 seats. That puts them in the same basket as Ipsos, who tend towards higher SNP shares than other pollsters, but it’s all the more notable as whilst Ipsos have only had one poll out since Nicola Sturgeon announced she was resigning, YouGov have had five. Both are therefore at odds with Panelbase, Savanta and Survation, all of whom have polled at least twice in the past few months, but last projected to a majority for the current government in Survation’s April poll. As ever, we can’t say for sure who is right or wrong, but just something to bear in mind.

Given that both a Westminster by-election and a not-yet-formally-scheduled-but-due General Election are looming, this is probably the most relevant part of polling at the moment, and in this case it’s a pretty dramatic one. Although the story lately has generally been one of growth for Labour, here they are down a margin of error-busting 5%. That puts them on their lowest figure so far this year, with December’s Ipsos poll the last time they were any lower. Although the SNP’s gains are modest, and within margin of error, it stretches the gap between the two parties from 4% up to 11%, a level where the SNP can be a lot more confident of holding onto most of their seats.

The rest of the difference is made up by single point gains for all of the Conservatives, Lib Dems (both of whom continue to poll substantially below their 2019 shares, though that’ll be worse for the former) and Reform UK (who continue to benefit from scunnered Conservatives feeling comfortable claiming they’ll vote for them in polling, even if they wouldn’t at an actual election). The Greens also remain on their surprisingly high share.

(As ever, note that YouGov inexplicably retain Refused and Wouldn’t Vote figures in their tables, and thus the figures reported here may look slightly different to what you see reported initially, as they are after removing those non-voting options.)

Independence is probably the most boring side of this poll, as whilst there is a visible shift from Independence to Union here, some of that is simply due to the effects of rounding, hence why the figures excluding Don’t Knows are only a marginal 1% swing. Overall, nothing much is moving on the constitution at present, sitting in the same space of the Union being ahead but not by as much as in 2014.


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

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