A WEEK and a half after the launch of Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party, and just over a week after the first leaders’ debate, the polls show that a pro-independence majority is easily the most likely outcome of next month’s Scottish Parliament elections.
Three new polls released in the past two days have shone substantial light on the state of the race, and all three make good reading for Yes supporters.
In a prospective future independence referendum, polls continue to show Yes ahead – albeit narrowly. And they show that the outcome of the election is likely to lead to a Parliament that will legislate to make that referendum happen.
The SNP looks to be sitting on between 49% and 53% of the constituency vote, comfortably above its 2016 showing of 46.5%. March saw a dip in SNP support, to around 46%, so this represents a bounce in the party’s support – indeed, today’s Opinium poll suggests the SNP constituency vote may have risen by as much as +7 in the space of three weeks.
The Scottish Greens continue to poll strongly on the regional list, with yesterday’s Ipsos MORI poll putting their vote share as high as 12% – their best showing this year – and on course to win over 10 seats.
Of the seat projections emerging from these polls, even the most pessimistic puts the SNP within touching distance of an outright majority, and pro-independence parties on course to win more than 70 seats, a comfortable majority.
But there is plenty of room for movement over the next four weeks. While most voters have made up their minds about who they’ll vote for, according to Ipsos MORI, one-in-five SNP and Conservative voters might change their vote. A third of Labour voters could switch, and nearly half of Liberal Democrats. Three-in-five Green list voters could switch, with half of those considering the SNP.
And with Douglas Ross faltering, many floating Tory voters could gravitate towards Anas Sarwar and Scottish Labour. Following his debate performance, Sarwar has become the most popular opposition politician in Scotland. His net satisfaction rating of +26 in yesterday’s Ipsos MORI poll is second only to Nicola Sturgeon’s +29.
While the constitutional issue continues to throw up barriers to his party reconnecting with voters, it’s possible that Sarwar could break through and return Scottish Labour to second place.
The polls make grimmer reading for the Alba Party. A Panelbase poll showing Alba support on 6% of the regional list vote now looks like an outlier, with two more recent polls finding 3% support, and today’s Opinium poll placing them on 2%. On those numbers, it’s unlikely that Alba would win any seats.
And for those hoping that more SNP voters might switch their list vote to Alba, the prospects do not look good. Ipsos MORI’s poll found just 3% of SNP voters would consider voting Alba on the regional list.
The polls suggest a potential SNP majority on a knife-edge and a hairs’ breadth between Scottish Labour and second place – there is plenty to play for over the next month. But, barring a significant change in direction, Scotland is heading for a pro-independence Parliament, though not one the Alba Party will be a part of.