SNP well ahead in latest polls but majority appears uncertain
Two new opinion polls suggest strong leads for the SNP ahead of the upcoming Holyrood election, though analysis differs on how this will translate into MSPs for Nicola Sturgeon’s party.
A Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman suggests the SNP will fall one MSP short of a majority, while an Opinium survey forecasts a 13-seat majority for the party.
The Savanta ComRes research predicts the SNP will return 64 MSPs, while Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party will return none despite taking 3% of the list vote.
Analysis of this poll indicates Alba could cost the SNP its majority at Holyrood due to voters choosing it on the list ballot instead of Ms Sturgeon’s party.
It forecasts the SNP will win a constituency vote of 49% and a list vote of 40%.
The research found 4% of those who plan to vote SNP on May 6 will choose the SNP for their constituency vote and Alba on the list.
It predicts a pro-independence majority of 74 MSPs at Holyrood, with 10 Scottish Green MSPs.
The poll also forecasts that the Scottish Conservatives will lose six seats, returning 25 MSPs, while Scottish Labour will have 23 MSPs – one down on 2016.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are predicted to gain one seat and return seven MSPs.
Savanta ComRes surveyed 1,007 Scottish adults between April 2 and 7.
The Opinium research is based on a survey of 1,023 Scots between April 1 and 6.
It puts the SNP on 53% in the constituency vote and 44% on the list vote, predicting a majority of 13 for Ms Sturgeon’s party.
Using a uniform swing calculator, a crude method to predict the number of seats using the percentage share of the vote, Opinium puts the Tories on 27 seats, Labour on 21, the Greens on six and the Lib Dems on four.
It looks like being on the campaign trail has further boosted the First Minister’s ratings, while the unpopularity of Alex Salmond has meant he is struggling to make a dent
According to Opinium, Alba is unlikely to gain a seat as it will poll just 2% in the list vote.
Opinium also asked respondents about their favourability towards party leaders.
Ms Sturgeon has a net approval rating of +23, while Labour leader Anas Sarwar has seen a significant boost to his personal ratings, with his score going from -3 in Opinium’s last poll to +10.
Mr Salmond has a net favourability of -60, and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is on -31.
Ms Sturgeon was also deemed to have performed best in the first TV debate, with 67% of those who saw at least some of it thinking she performed well.
Mr Sarwar was also perceived to have performed well, with 62% of viewers thinking he did a good job.
Chris Curtis, senior research manager at Opinium, said: “If Scottish unionists had been hoping that the fallout between Salmond and Sturgeon would hurt the SNP, then our latest polling is going to be a disappointment.
“It looks like being on the campaign trail has further boosted the First Minister’s ratings, while the unpopularity of Alex Salmond has meant he is struggling to make a dent.
“Perhaps the most disappointing results in the poll are for the Labour Party.
“Their new leader’s surging popularity is currently failing to translate into any more votes, as Labour ends up in the unenviable position of being everyone’s second choice.”
Responding to the polls, a Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “As Scotland’s largest opposition party, only we have the strength and determination to stop an SNP majority and block their reckless plans for another divisive referendum.”
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar said he had seen progress in opinion polls in the five weeks since he had become leader and his messages were beginning to cut through.
He said: “I want us to do more progress in the next four-and-a-bit weeks.
“If you agree with what I’m saying, if you like what I’m saying, if you think we shouldn’t go back to the old arguments but you want our parliament to focus on you, your family and our national recovery – vote Labour on May 6.”
Commenting on the Scotsman poll, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “This poll shows this election outcome on a knife-edge, and reinforces that only by voting SNP on May 6 can people guarantee an SNP government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, which has the plans to remobilise our NHS, kickstart our economic recovery and improve lives across the country.”