Archive for category Polling

Exclusive: July Holyrood poll by Survation

It’s month five for our rolling sequence of Survation polls, conducted as always in partnership with the Daily Record and Dundee University’s 5 Million Questions. The June results are here, and the Record have the indyref results. The big question shows 47% Yes, 53% No again, the same as last month’s result. Having said that, last month Yes’s 47% was 46.6% rounded up, and this month it’s up to 47.1% rounded down, with No correspondingly down from 53.4% to 52.9%. That makes for an unchanged headline figure, but the No lead at one decimal place has fallen from by 1% from 6.8% to 5.8%. Confusing, but that’s rounding for you.

Onto the Holyrood results. Usual background: I’m comparing vote shares to the previous month’s figures: but seat numbers are still shown as the change on the 2011 result. Seat projections continue to be from Scotland Votes, who don’t include UKIP in their methodology. The ‘kippers would be expected to win a small number of regional list seats at this level, although it remains unclear at which party’s expense those gains would come (roughly likely to be in proportion to list seats, i.e. costing Labour most, then Tories, then Greens). With all that in mind, here are this month’s figures.

Parties Constituency Region Total
Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Seats (+/-) %
SNP 44.1 (-2.1) 53 (±0) 36.9 (-2.4) 7 (-9) 60 (-9) 46.5
Labour 30.6 (+2.3) 15 (±0) 25.7 (-0.5) 22 (±0) 37 (±0) 28.7
Conservative 13.3 (+0.3) 3 (±0) 12.9 (+2.5) 13 (+1) 16 (+1) 12.4
Liberal Democrats 5.1 (-1.1) 2 (±0) 7.3 (+1.2) 5 (+2) 7 (+2) 5.4
Scottish Greens 1.9 (-0.6) 0 (±0) 8.1 (-1.9) 9 (+7) 9 (+7) 7.0
UKIP 4.1 (+0.9) 0 (±0) 8.1 (+1.1) 0 (±0) 0 (±0) 0
Others 0.7 (+0.2) 0 0.9 (-0.1) 0 (-1) 0 (-1) 0

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 01.00.05The first oddity is that this would see every last constituency go the same way as 2011. Although Labour are a bit up on last month, it doesn’t win them any more seats: they are at best treading water on these results. The SNP, however, would be down enough to lose their overall majority, and, as per the May result, would either need to run a very strong minority administration, or look for any other party to form a coalition with them. Despite that minor dip on 2011’s landslide, it’s an extraordinarily strong position for a governing party to retain more than seven years after taking office.

Looking at the smaller parties, it’s been a better month for the Tories and to a lesser extent the Lib Dems: both would be marginally up on their 2011 score, with the Tories now in a clear third place (last month they were just 0.4% ahead of the Greens on the list). As for the Greens, they’re 1.9% down on the list, and would elect two fewer MSPs than June’s poll indicated. I still think Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone would be pretty pleased to have seven more colleagues, though. With these numbers the second slots on the Lothian, Glasgow and perhaps even Highlands and Islands lists would be promising places for Green candidates, and selection will be competitive.

Making sure the panel is just right.

Making sure the panel is just right.

Before that, though, the small matter of the indyref. There’s been a pretty rough squabble about how to poll that. Are Survation right, or are YouGov? Well, YouGov were the most wrong about the AV referendum, the most recent similar vote. And in 2011 YouGov underestimated the SNP constituency vote by more than 3% and their regional vote by more than 9%, well outside the margin of error. You can even get odds on which side of the argument will be vindicated in September.

Sure, I’m biased, given Survation are our house pollsters, but their methodology is transparent, unlike YouGov’s. The latter have a weighting system for “red Nats”, but won’t say what it is, nor whether other segments are weighted for. More generally, Kellner’s argument, despite YouGov’s substantial underestimate of SNP votes in 2011, is that Survation have the wrong sort of SNP voter in their panel.

If you’re still not sure who to back in the battle of the pollsters, here’s a wee graph from @bgreysk on Twitter (precedes this month’s Survation result). The trend lines are the best guide, and from that YouGov look like the complete outlier. On this evidence, I think Ladbrokes would be easy to take to the cleaners given they’re offering 7/4 on Survation to be closest, but any bets are of course to be made at your own risk.



Exclusive: June Holyrood poll by Survation

It’s time for month four of our rolling sequence of polls, conducted as usual by Survation, in partnership with the Daily Record and Dundee University’s 5 Million Questions. The May figures are here, and the Record have written up the indyref results here. The headline there is 47% Yes, 53% No, which is the best score for Yes that we’ve recorded since this polling project began.

That same Record story has the answer to another question: it shows Scots voters would go 54/46 for independence if they were sure Cameron was going to win, which is interesting although a) no-one will know the May 2016 election result in advance and b) no matter how much one may hate Cameron, that’s a poor basis for a vote for independence.

Anyway, onto the Holyrood numbers. Usual background: I’m comparing vote shares to the previous month’s figures: but seat numbers are still shown as the change on the 2011 result. Seat projections are again from Scotland Votes, who don’t include UKIP in their methodology. The ‘kippers are again scoring at a level where they should expect to win a small number of regional list seats, but it is again unclear at which party’s expense those gains would come. Probably more from those parties who are strongest on the list, i.e. overwhelmingly Labour, then Greens and then the rest. If our pals at Weber Shandwick want to keep that tool accurate, regrettably they will need a UKIP entry in their table. With all that in mind, here are this month’s figures.

Parties Constituency Region Total
Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Seats (+/-) %
SNP 46.2 (+2.5) 60 (+7) 39.3 (+0.2) 5 (-11) 65 (-4) 50.4
Labour 28.3 (-3.4) 8 (-7) 26.2 (-0.2) 29 (+7) 37 (±0) 28.7
Conservative 13 (-2.4) 3 (±0) 10.4 (-0.9) 7 (-5) 10 (-5) 7.8
Liberal Democrats 6.2 (+1.3) 2 (±0) 6.1 (±0) 4 (+1) 6 (+1) 4.7
Scottish Greens 2.5 (+1.5) 0 (±0) 10.0 (+1.3) 11 (+9) 11 (+9) 8.5
UKIP 3.2 (+1.1) 0 (±0) 7.0 (-0.1) 0 (±0) 0 (±0) 0
Others 0.5 (-0.7) 0 1.0 (-0.3) 0 (-1) 0 (-1) 0


This would be another very strong result for the SNP: to be within striking distance of 50% in the constituencies, with your nearest rivals almost 20% behind? Few governments seven years into office can have retained this level of support. 65 seats would be a peculiar number to win – technically the barest majority, but theoretically vulnerable: not a position from which coalition would ever make sense for a junior partner, functionally more like a super-minority administration (edit: and unlike now, without a former SNP MSP in the PO’s chair). If 47 generally felt comfortable between 2007 and 2011, this would be a doddle (again, remember they might be one short of this depending on the impact of the ‘kippers).

Labour’s result here looks like a flatline, but they’d actually regard it as a further falling back. Just eight constituencies would go their way: the lists would bring another group of more unknown quantities into Holyrood to swell the Labour delegation, and winning more than 50% of all the list seats would be likely (on these numbers) to make Labour the most vulnerable to any ‘kippers off the lists: the real figure could well be 35 or 36 if this result were the real figure for UKIP in 2016. Whatever John McTernan thinks, this would start to look like SNP hegemony to Labour activists. The demoralising effect would be hard to overstate.

Which brings us to the third-largest group in the Chamber on these numbers: the Greens. Sure, the Tories are a scant 0.4% ahead of the Greens on the list, but the unhelpful (for them) concentration of their vote in South wouldn’t help them in terms of seats, and the Greens show as one ahead of them. In fact, we’d see the Tory group drop by a third, with just four MSPs more than the Lib Dems, who appear to have hit a floor of around 6% for now. All these parties might lose one of these seats to UKIP, obviously. But even 9-10 Green MSPs would be an extraordinary breakthrough for the party.

Looking at all of this as a piece, this is my favourite Survation poll yet, even if the Holyrood election remains in the unpredictable zone beyond the independence vote. A win in #indyref vote, though, which is the next time Scots voters have their say, is now clearly in touching distance. With a strong ground game and some improved messaging, we could even see a moderately convincing win for Yes.

Exclusive: May Holyrood poll by Survation

It’s month three of our rolling sequence of polling, conducted as usual by Survation, in partnership with the Daily Record and Dundee University’s 5 Million Questions. Last month’s figures are here, and the Record have the indyref polling story here (in brief: Yes 44, No 56, i.e. no change on last month, but they also got numbers suggesting Salmond is unpersuasive).

This month, like last month, I’m comparing vote shares to the previous month’s figures: but seat numbers are still shown as the change on the 2011 result. Seat projections are from Scotland Votes again. The major caveat with the seat projections is that UKIP are shown at a point where they would almost certainly win a handful of regional list seats, but the Scotland Votes site doesn’t include them, so it is unclear at whose expense they would come. The model does show one independent: it’s not clear if this is a legacy result based on Margo or a seat based on the large “others” list score, mostly UKIP. My guess is they’d pick up perhaps five on this result, and a rough guess would be that each of the existing Holyrood parties might win one fewer each than shown here. So here are the figures, with that caveat.

Parties Constituency Region Total
Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Seats (+/-) %
SNP 43.7 (-1.2) 49 (-4) 39.1 (-0.7) 12 (-4) 61 (-8) 47.3
Labour 31.7 (-0.4) 19 (+4) 26.4 (+1.3) 18 (-4) 37 (±0) 28.7
Conservative 15.4 (+1.9) 3 (±0) 11.3 (-0.9) 11 (-1) 14 (-1) 10.9
Liberal Democrats 4.9 (-0.8) 2 (±0) 6.1 (-2.9) 4 (+1) 6 (+1) 4.7
Scottish Greens 1.0 0 (±0) 8.7 (+1.4) 10 (+8) 10 (+8) 7.8
UKIP 2.1 0 (±0) 7.1 (+3.1) 0 (±0) 0 (±0) 0
Others 1.2 (+0.5) 0 1.3 (n/a) 1 (±0) 1 (±0) 0

The SNP remain in unquestioned pole position: a small dip in both votes still leaves them winning more than sixty seats overall. As per last month, if this were repeated they could either return to an even more comfortable version of minority rule model they used from 2007 to 2011, or they could pick any one of the three smaller parties as a coalition partner. On these numbers, especially if we assume UKIP would take one further seat from each, the Lib Dems would provide them with the narrowest possible majority, something the SNP might well be reluctant to contemplate.

Labour have edged back up a little on the list and fallen less far on the first vote, and as a result would pick up four constituencies from the SNP while losing four of their list seats. No overall progress since they bore the brunt of the “tartan steamroller” in 2011, in short. Or slightly worse, if the ‘kippers were to take one off them. If I were advising Labour, I’d say it’s clear there’s something wrong with the team, or with the policies, or with the message, or with a combination of all three.

The Tories are broadly holding their position since 2011 here, with just one more seat lost. Managed decline, one might say. And the Lib Dems would win just one more than 2011, with their list vote showing the sharpest decline over the last month.

Which brings me to my favourite part of this result: the strongest Green list vote we’ve seen since this polling sequence began, indicating a Green group five times larger than that which currently sits at Holyrood, primarily because Labour would no longer be so substantially under-represented in the constituencies.

My guess is 10 Green MSPs would mean two each in Lothian, Glasgow, and Highlands & Islands, plus one each in North East, Mid Scotland & Fife, South, and West, although one in Central or even a third in Lothian at the expense of the second H&I seat is another possibility (again, as with the Coalition parties above, note the UKIP caveat here). A result like this would lead to the biggest celebration the Greens have ever had, and a strong hand in the session to come.

Whichever way the referendum goes in September, this result would also see a pro-independence majority at Holyrood almost as large as that elected in 2011, although clearly Holyrood polling this far out is pretty damn speculative, especially over that particular event horizon.

Exclusive: latest Holyrood voting intention

It’s month two of our joint project with the Daily Record, Dundee University’s 5 Million Questions and our pollsters, Survation. The Record have gone with the indyref poll, the figures for which I intend to draw a veil over here. They have to try and not look partisan. I don’t think that applies to me.

Anyway, here are the latest Holyrood voting intention figures. Last month I did the vote shares as a comparison to Holyrood 2011. This month I’m comparing shares to last month’s data: but the seat numbers are still shown as the change on 2011 (I know this is a bit confusing and I am open to other ways of showing the data). I am also giving the first post-decimal point figure, although it’s false accuracy and as usual the margin of error is ±~3%. Seat projections are from Scotland Votes again.

Parties Constituency Region Total
Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Vote share (+/-) Seats (+/-) Seats (+/-) %
SNP 44.9 (+0.3) 50 (-3) 40.6 (+0.7) 13 (-3) 63 (-6) 48.8
Labour 32.1 (-1.9) 18 (+3) 25.1 (-3.1) 16 (-6) 34 (-3) 26.4
Conservative 13.5 (+0.5) 3 (±0) 12.2 (+1.1) 12 (±0) 15 (±0) 11.6
Liberal Democrats 5.7 (+0.7) 2 (±0) 9.0 (+2.3) 7 (+4) 9 (+4) 7.0
Scottish Greens 7.3 (-1.1) 8 (+6) 8 (+6) 6.2
Others 3.8 (+0.5) 0 5.9 (+0.1) 0 (-1) 0 (-1) 0

A few things to note here. First, the SNP remain overwhelmingly Scotland’s most popular party, slightly above even where they were last month. If I were off to their party conference this weekend, almost seven years since taking power for the first time, I’d be pretty pleased with these figures. It’s a little off their peak, sure, and the absolute majority would presumably be replaced with another round of minority, or a coalition with the Lib Dems or the Greens. But it’s still very impressive.

Second, that would obviously be Labour’s worst ever Holyrood result – very marginally up on the first vote but paying for it on the list. There are some who think “Labour hegemony is normal setting” (sic), but if that’s true still (it isn’t) we’re a long way from normal right now. Outflanking the SNP to the right and a constant diet of negativity: these tactics are not working. In fact, much as the point of the referendum is that it’s beyond party politics, if I were to look for current non-indyref numbers that are good straws in the wind for September, it’s this: Labour are currently only appealing to about a quarter of the Scottish people, and only 69% of that 25% core vote here is voting Yes (15% No, remainder don’t know). That wider disconnect between Labour and the Scottish electorate can only help Yes.

The coalition parties have had a wee bump since last month too. It’s consistent with UK-wide polling, especially for the Tories, much as I can’t see how the last month has been any good for them.

The Greens aren’t quite at the high point we saw last month: but I’m pretty sure Patrick and Alison would be quite satisfied with six additional colleagues in May 2016 and the possibility of office.

Oh yeah, and UKIP are down to 4% in that regional “Others” vote, at the point where they need a serious target region or two to win seats. Which I don’t think they have, or if they do, I haven’t noticed.

See you again next month!

Who do you not hate?

In addition to the independence question and the Holyrood voting intention put as part of our first monthly Survation poll (with the Daily Record and Dundee University’s 5 Million Questions), I also get to ask another question, and I can be more partisan than they are. So I asked the following:

Irrespective of how you personally vote, which of the following parties would you like to see as part of a future Scottish government (for example, as part of a coalition)?

The results were pretty striking (I’ve changed my mind since last week, incidentally, and will show the arbitary precision in these numbers: bear in mind that just one more person picking a particular party has a one in ten chance of increasing their result by 0.1%). The figure in brackets here shows how far above each party’s list vote in the same poll their result  is.

SNP: 48.8% (+8.9%)
Labour: 46.9% (+18.8%)
Green: 22.5% (+14.1%)
Lib Dem: 19.7% (+13%)
Conservative: 18.1% (+7%)
UKIP: 8.9% (+4.3%)
SSP: 1.6% (+0.8%)

I read this question primarily as “which other parties do you not hate?”, and so if I were Labour I’d find a crumb of comfort in these figures – although the actual Labour list vote we found is pretty low, there’s a substantial section of the public who don’t currently vote for them who are not against them being back in office. The SNP, on the other hand, (with much stronger actual voting intention figures) look like they are closer to the top of their maximum achievable vote. But hey, actual votes certainly trump a reservoir of broader non-voting sympathy. And overall, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see almost half the country want to see each of those two parties having a role in office.

But the picture is a bit more complicated than it looks. The detailed tables show that about a quarter of Labour voters think the SNP should be part of a future Scottish government, and vice versa, which may be a recognition by a good chunk of the public of the broad similarity of the two parties’ positions on much of the policy agenda. Conversely, roughly 10% of both parties’ own voters do not want to see their chosen party in office, which seems a touch odd. That number is even higher for the Lib Dems, with more than 15% of remaining Lib Dem voters not wanting the party to have a role in government.

At the bottom of the list, the SSP do figure, but only one person in 125 would vote for them, and only another one in 125 thinks they should be in office. The damage Sheridan did to the party shows no sign of going away, which I personally regret. I’d like to see Holyrood return to rainbow days again, with a good group of SSP MSPs as well as more Greens. But that looks a long way off. Above them, UKIP are in the area where they might pick up a regional seat or two if their vote were to be well-focused enough, but a pleasingly small proportion of the Scottish public don’t hate them.

The middle order is also interesting. On the actual regional voting intention, the three smaller Parliamentary parties were bunched pretty closely – the Tories on 11, Greens on 8, and the Lib Dems on 7. Of those three, the Tories remain the least well-liked beyond their actual voters, the Lib Dems retain a perhaps surprising reach, and the Greens come in third overall, greatly helped by the 30.7% of SNP voters who would like to see us in office (18.5% of Labour voters also felt that way).

It’s tempting as a Green to get excited about these figures, but there’s a sting in the tail for the party, just as there is with the excellent list vote found for the party in the same poll. There may be a substantial pool of potential Green voters out there (enough for the party plausibly to aspire to become the third party at Holyrood, no less), but without bringing in more money, more members, and more activists, we will never be able to convert these figures into a reliable base for the party. That next phase is already happening pretty widely in Edinburgh, and in parts of Glasgow, but beyond that, the critical mass for the Greens exists only in the wards of key hard-working activists (shout out to Martin Ford, Mark Ruskell & Ian Baxter in particular here). As William Gibson said in another context: the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.

I’m too much of an inactivist right now to criticise, but the party’s problems remain broadly the same as they were even ten years ago. Patrick and others are working hard to try and help see the referendum won while simultaneously promoting the party’s distinctive positions, but the question remains: how can an increased level of interest and warmth be converted into those three vital assets?