Over the weekend figures from a new TNS/System 3 poll of voting intentions in the Scottish Parliament were released. The Sunday Herald’s report rather strangely describes it as being “leaked”, but perhaps that’s just to make it more exciting :). In fact it was conducted on System Three’s own behalf, and the fieldwork dates were the 26th-31st of October.

The topline voting intention figures, with changes from System Three’s last poll conducted at the tail end of August (it was published in September, and the numbers tally with the numbers the Sunday Herald ascribes to their September snapshot, so we don’t seem to be missing a set), are as follows. On the constituency vote: CON 12%(nc), LAB 38%(+2), LDEM 14%(-3), SNP 30%(+2), GRN 3%(nc), SSP 3%(-1), and on the regional vote: CON 9%(-2), LAB 30%(+2), LDEM 17%(-2), SNP 33%(+6), GRN 6%(-2), SSP 4%(-2). The poll suggests that in both votes support is beginning to focus upon Labour and the SNP at the expense of smaller parties.

In recent years Scottish opinion polls have been few and far between, so we don’t really have enough data talk about differences in party support between pollsters. Looking at recent Scottish opinion polls though, on the constituency vote there does seem to be a noticable contrast between the levels of Labour support recorded by System Three, which in their last 4 polls have consistently shown Labour at 36% or above, and the figures produced by other pollsters, who have all put Labour around about a 30% level of support. In the regional vote (the more important one in terms of overall seats) the pattern is less clear.

For the record, System Three use a methodology very similar to MORI’s. Quota sampling is used to construct samples, interviews are conducted face-to-face in people’s homes and samples are weighted using gender, age, social class and working status. Like MORI, there is no weighting by past vote (though the initial sampling points are chosen to be politically representative – i.e. there are the correct proportion of sampling points in Labour held constituencies, Lib Dem held constituencies and so on).

At the moment System Three are not doing any filtering or weighting by people’s likelihood to vote (though they will do this in pre-election polls). If likelihood to vote in Scotland follows a similar pattern as in Great Britain as a whole – i.e. if Labour voters are the least likely to vote – then this would go part of the way towards explaining the difference in figures.

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