As well as the new EU poll, Friday’s Times also had a new YouGov Scottish poll. There was also a new TNS Scottish poll in the week. Topline voting intentions for Holyrood were:

YouGov (tabs)
Constituency: SNP 50%(-1), LAB 19%(-2), CON 20%(+1), LDEM 6%(+1)
Regional: SNP 42%(-3), LAB 20%(nc), CON 20%(+1), GRN 6%(nc), LDEM 5%(nc)

TNS (tabs)
Constituency: SNP 57%(-1), LAB 21%(-2), CON 17%(+5), LDEM 3%(-1)
Regional: SNP 52%(-2), LAB 19%(-1), CON 17%(+5), GRN 6%(-3), LDEM 6%(+2)

While the scale is difference, both polls have the usual overwhelming lead for the SNP. The obvious expectation is that they’ll easily secure a landslide win come May. More interesting is the battle for second place. YouGov have Labour and the Conservatives essentially equal (in the constituency vote the Conservatives are a point ahead after rounding… though this was nearly all in the rounding!). YouGov have tended to show the highest levels of Conservative support in Scotland and have had Labour only a whisker ahead of them for their last couple of polls, however other companies now seem to be showing the Labour and Conservative gap in Scotland narrowing too. TNS have the Conservatives up five points since December, bringing the gap in the regional vote down to two points, a Panelbase poll earlier this month also only had a two point gap between Lab & Con in the regional vote, MORI had the gap falling to 2-3 points in their last poll. Survation’s last Scottish poll still showed a 4-5 point gap this month, but it was down from an eight point gap in their previous poll.

Personally I’d still see the Conservatives coming second in Scotland as unlikely – while Ruth Davidson is well regarded (her approval ratings in the YouGov poll were substantially better than Kezia Dugdale’s) their brand seems almost irretrievably tarnished in Scotland. However if Scottish Labour fall far enough, I suppose it is possible. We shall see.

114 Responses to “Latest YouGov and TNS Scottish polls”

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  1. I do wonder if the “It’s the leadership ratings that matter” hypothesis is true for general elections, but not more regional contests. As far as I know, there’s not been a steady relationship between Cameron/Davidson’s ratings and the Scottish Tory VI.

  2. Anthony

    Maybe a word or two about YG methodology? I note that, as well as the usual demographics, “YouGov also weighted its raw data by newspaper readership, Vote 2015, Place of birth and Recalled 2014 referendum vote:”

    IIRC the reason why you use newspaper readership was primarily to separate the redtops from broadsheets.

    Have you tried other groupings of daily papers in Scotland?

    Your current groupings are –

    Express / Mail
    Sun / Star
    Mirror / Record
    Guardian / Independent / Herald
    FT / Times / Telegraph / Scotsman
    Other Paper
    No Paper

    Concatenating strong the regional papers – Courier and P&J with the very strong indy supporting National, seems unlikely to be helpful.

    It also seems odd to combine London papers without a Scottish edition with the Herald & the Scotsman.

  3. Bill Patrick

    “I do wonder if the “It’s the leadership ratings that matter” hypothesis is true for [UK] general elections, but not more regional contests.”

    Wouldn’t the contrast be down to the fact that the GB Con/Lab/LD parties have their real leader, then a branch manager (no matter how autonomous) in Scotland & Wales?

    Voting for a party because of “the leader” becomes much more confused when they claim to have multiple leaderships.

  4. Oldnat,

    I don’t find that line of conversation becomes any more interesting when it’s repeatedly brought up.

  5. Bill Patrick

    It may not interest you – but it is inevitably going to influence voter thinking,

    Do I vote for this party because I like X, but I’m not keen on Y?

    Do I think the direction of this party in Scotland/Wales is going to be primarily directed by X or Y?

    Do I know much about X compared to Y?

    Often, when things are “repeatedly brought up”, it’s for the very good reason that they are relevant to the topic.

  6. The importance of leadership ratings is perhaps more significant in what are perceived as two-horse races, perhaps? For Westminster elections it’s always a contest between Labour and the Conservatives, whereas this is less the case in the devolved, proportional assemblies?

  7. Mathew

    “The importance of leadership ratings is perhaps more significant in what are perceived as two-horse races, perhaps? For Westminster elections it’s always a contest between Labour and the Conservatives”

    While 2010 may have been something of an exception, did it indicate that a fair lot of folk thought that they could vote for another “leader” who would moderate the resultant PM?

  8. Maxim Parr-Reid

    “Not bad for Ruth Davidson and her party”

    True – the interesting (but unanswerable) question is whether those voting Lab or LD in UK GE, were “actually” Lab/LD or tactical voters, given historical precedents as to which party was most likely to beat the SNP in that constituency.

    Davidson has pushed hard to convince Unionists that the Tories are the only really Unionist party, and it seems to have paid dividends in taking votes away from Lab/LD.

    I posted YG details on the previous thread – repeated below.

    Tables for YG Full Scottish have crossbreaks showing party vote retention since UK GE for Holyrood constituencies.

    SNP 92% : Con 93% : Lab 77% : LD 65%

    As one might expect, little interchange between the 2 camps – biggest is 5% of Lab to SNP, with 3% SNP to Lab.

    The restructuring of the Unionist vote is more interesting –
    Con very stable, but 12% of 2015 Lab votes going Con. The small LD vote decreases further as 19% back the Tories, while 11% prefer Lab.

  9. Re this regional polling, any recent done in Wales?

  10. @jasper 22

    Any in England?

  11. Jasper22

    If Anthony misses any Welsh poll, you’ll find the details here –

    However, this site is full of polls conducted in the GB region of the EU. I’m really surprised that you have missed all of them!

  12. SLAB’s response to their predicament is interesting. One major policy uturn on Trident and some attempts at headline grabbing initiatives which seem to backfire. It now seems that Dugdale’s attempt to inject new blood into the Holyrood candidates has faltered; what the voters of Glasgow will make of Anas Sarwar being top of the Glasgow list will be interesting! At Westminster they have decided to try to block devolution of abortion policy as recommended by the Smith Commission in the House of Lords having been roundly defeated on that in the Commons which doesn’t seem likely to play well. Possibly they have given up on Holyrood 2016 and are planning to make their stand in the local elections in 2017?

  13. Hireton

    “what the voters of Glasgow will make of Anas Sarwar being top of the Glasgow list will be interesting! ”

    I doubt that the names of the candidates on the Party Lists make any difference at all to the votes cast. There can be little doubt that Sarwar will be an MSP in May.

    Whether Con or Lab have the 2nd highest number of MSPs may also not be of great interest – since Holyrood doesn’t have an “Official” Opposition – though the ordering of questions at FMQs might change.

    For observers of the Scottish political scene the matter of most interest is likely to be how soon Sarwar will move to displace Dugdale as LiS leader.

    With Dugdale having moved her political support base to the East, we may see the last nail in the West of Scotland Labour dominance, if he can’t beat her.

  14. LiS may be regretting Dugdale’s success in persuading GBLab’s NEC to campaign for them at every opportunity.

    1. Yvette Cooper spearheading opposition to abortion law being devolved

    2. McDonnell comparing Sturgeon to Thatcher (Edinburgh West CLP incensed that people might think the comparison is being made by “Scottish Labour”)

    Don’t these folk in London ever bother looking at the Scottish polls?

  15. Correction

    Edinburgh West CLP have now altered their position. Apparently, they now agree 100% with MCDonnell. The problem was “Green Benches” Eoin telling people what McDonnell said.

  16. YouGov’s Scottish polls seem to have an underlying issue with there being too many respondents born in rUK by a large margin. I’m unable to think of plausible-seeming reasons for this, but perhaps there’s something obvious I’m missing. Any ideas?

  17. Hireton – 10.03 p.m

    ‘Possibly they (SLAB) have given up on Holyrood 2016 and are planning to make their stand in the local elections in 2017?’

    Yes, I would agree. Labour seem to be much stronger at the level of Local Government than they are at the Holyrood level. We need also to take seriously the idea (see John Curtis on What Scotland Thinks) that the freeze on local government taxes has come to the end of its useful life. Add to the mix the full devolution of income tax – with Holyrood able finallly to define its own tax bands – and 2017 becomes much more interesting than 2016. I think, by then, that it will be back to ‘business as usual’, with Scots voting on the ‘horses for courses’ basis, rather than on the emotional carry through from Indyref I. Indyref II will be held when/if it becomes clear that, despite everyhting Westminster has done, the Scots are still not satisfied.

    P.S. Will someone please advise Cameron to stop saying “We gave them…..” when referring to devolution. The Scots have been ‘given’ nothing. Devolution was the resulty of a long, hard slog – and it’s not finished yet!

    P.P.S. I am assuming in the above that the EU Refrendum delivers a sensible ‘remain’ verdict and not the sort of crazy foolery wanted by those who live still in Medieval Southern England.

  18. If the Conservatives are the official opposition at Holyrood it will be down to Labour failures rather than a significant revival of the Scottish Tories.

    Kezia Dugdale’s smiling optimism is, to me, very reminiscent of the way Nick Clegg conducted himself in the General Election campaign – in total denial of his fate as he headed for the slaughterhouse.

  19. @oldnat

    I wasn’t thinking that the composition of the list would affect vi more that Glasgow will wake up on Friday morning and be surprised that Sarwar is the new face of Labour!

  20. John B

    “P.P.S. I am assuming in the above that the EU Refrendum delivers a sensible ‘remain’ verdict and not the sort of crazy foolery wanted by those who live still in Medieval Southern England.”

    I suppose the Celtic fringe might be more pro Remain because they are used to being a subsidiary part of a larger entity.
    The English aren’t, and the extent to which the UK has already ceded sovereignty to the EU has been disguised from the people by politicians of all shades.

  21. Polltroll,

    Based on the polls, it’s a result of both: the Tories are looking at at least equalling their best result at Holyrood, but it’s primarily due to the fact that Labour have lost about a third of what was once considered their “core” vote in Scotland.

  22. Good morning all from a sunny for now (,dark clouds in the horizon) Itchen Abbas.

    The election in Scotland as a contest for first place has already finished but its the fight for second place that’s still up for grabs.


    BILL PATRICK does have a point though with regards to leadership. I said all the way through the UK election that public perception on the party leaders will play a large part on who people decide to vote for.

    I take the point you make regarding branch offices in Scotland regarding Labour and the Tories but non the less Ruth Davidson’s increasing popularity may well translate into a positive vote share for the Scottish Tories.

    Personally speaking, since the SNP have been in power I think Scotland has had the wrong party in opposition and although the SNP and Tories are miles apart when it comes to polices, both parties have been constructive towards each other and really made the parliamentary work especially when the SNP were in minority government unlike LiS who only see the SNP as bad.

  23. # parliament work

  24. @peteb

    But England is a region of the UK is it not?

    “If the Conservatives are the official opposition at Holyrood it will be down to Labour failures rather than a significant revival of the Scottish Tories”.

    “Kezia Dugdale’s smiling optimism is, to me, very reminiscent of the way Nick Clegg conducted himself in the General Election campaign – in total denial of his fate as he headed for the slaughterhouse”

    Its obvious brand Tory in Scotland is still tarnished but it may well have a mini revival in the Scottish parliament. A large chunk of the Labour core vote has gone to the SNP and I think a large chunk of soft Labour AB1 vote will shift to the Tories because of Ruth Davidson.

    I entirely agree with your second paragraph…Kez is in for a very rude awakening after the polls have closed.

  26. @peteb

    More seriously, is London part of the “Celtic fringe” as polling suggests it is clearly in favour of remaining in the EU?

  27. If I could just inject a little bit of left field thought about the Republican nomination.

    Since 1940 no Republican candidate who has won the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries (the next 2) has failed to win the nomination.

    The last 4 polls taken in South Carolina (all in January) have Trump with an average 16 point lead and the last 12 polls in New Hampshire (all taken since the Iowa caucuses) an average 17% lead (and the latest 2 a 19% average lead).

    At present Rubio is the even money favourite and Trump is nearly 3-1.

    Seems like a (terrifying) no-brainer to me!

  28. Celtic Fringe!! Who said that? I suspect the reason Scotland is more pro EU than England (with the exception of London) is down to geography and Scotland benefiting from the EU due to its large rural areas been given funding.

    However despite having Celtic blood in me I’m still firmly in the No camp but do agree that all 4 constituent parts of the UK must vote to leave and not just down to the largest constituent voting to leave and dragging the rest with them.

  29. PollTroll

    Holyrood doesn’t have an “Official Opposition”. Remember, it was never envisaged that it would be dominated by two parties.


    Allan Christie

    I agree with Bill Patrick that the “predict by leadership ratings” meme doesn’t work in Scotland/Wales as it does in GB.

    I simply pointed out the obvious reason why that should be for parties that have both a UK leader, and “leaders” in the devolved nations.

  30. Leadership ratings matter every bit as much in Scotland as they do elsewhere which is why “Alex Salmond for First Minister” topped the last Hollyrood a lot paper.

    The fact that most Scots thought the SNP had the best candidate probably went a long way to the SNP gaining a majority

    The current system actually works to the SNP’s adavantage but ironically hurt the Yes campaign. The media seems to be structured to focus on “Big Beasts” and personalities so as a national party leader with five times more MP’s than the LibDems Nicola currently gets seen as a national leader and gets far more coverage than any Scottish Counterpart.

    In the Referendum “Better Together had far more household names; Cameron, Osborne, Miliband, Brown, Blair, Darling, Major than Yes Scotland… Effectively just Salmond then later Sturgeon.

    I suspect if asked most people in England could name Darling as head of better together but how many could name Canavan for Yes Scotland.

    Anthony; it would be interesting to poll recognition of the Referendum to see which figures ( or arguments) people remember and thought significant to see to what extent a) one sidebar more name recognition than the other, which arguments are remembered.

    For the SNP the best tactic for the next 90 days is lots of photo ops of Nicola being nice and compassionate “Mother of the Nation” stuff while avoiding any kind of debate or engagement with the other party leaders.


  31. Hireton
    “But England is a region of the UK is it not?”

    Yes, sorry. Stereotypical Englishman’s mistake. But of course England dominates the Union far more than any US State dominates the US, or Germany the EU. Therefore the English aren’t used to not getting their own way (or aren’t aware how much is decided by the EU), which was the point I was trying to make.

  32. A good article by Roger Scully on the difficulty of polling well.

  33. @ OldNat

    It’s a good article, thanks.

    I really don’t know if it’s feasible to adjust general demographics to voting demographics via various coefficients. Kuznets had some very sharp words about it in economics in his acceptance speech.

  34. Laszlo

    It would be necessary to find out some common feature shared by those who vote in UK GEs, but not in Scottish/Welsh GEs – and be able to measure that feature.

    Theoretically possible, but I imagine it would take extensive (and expensive) research to discover if a satisfactory one (or group of them) could be isolated.

  35. Sorry to butt in on this scintillating discussion, but “interesting” leader in the Observer on Cameron and the EU referendum.

    In calling the referendum, it was clear he was responding primarily to party pressures, not continental power shifts or any fundamental change of heart…
    Having put party before country and himself before party, and called a vote for the wrong reasons, Cameron compounded his error by squandering the opportunity for renegotiation. This is not surprising. He has rarely demonstrated a firm grasp of, or a sustained personal interest in, foreign affairs. His neglect of Europe during his first term was illustrated by the Tories’ withdrawal from the main centre-right group in the European parliament, unwisely snubbing powerful allies such as Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats

    Sums him up really.

  36. Sorry to butt in on this scintillating discussion of the Observer leader, but the answers to the supplementary questions in that Times/YG poll seem to lack nuance.

    Asked whether the Scottish Government is running the NHS well or badly, SNP supporters are overwhelmingly sure that the SNP are doing well – 84% to 12%.

    Lab and Con folk, on the other hand, think they are utter failures – Con 21% / 76% : Lab 20% / 71%.

    Responses to the other supplementaries are equally polarised.

    It looks rather like entrenched positions have been adopted – either “SNP Bad”, or “SNP Good”. With less than 100m days to go till the election, I suppose such divisions are inevitable.

    However, it also suggests that asking such questions is simply a waste of Murdoch’s money.

    Whether that latter point is thought to be a good or a bad thing would, no doubt, produce equally polarised reactions.

  37. “With less than 100m days to go”….. That’s an over 2,000 year campaign…. What’s the slogan “Jesus for First Minister”!


  38. Peter

    I stick by my statement! It IS less than 100 million days till the election – though with the standard of press releases from the parties, it may well feel like 3,000 years! :-)

  39. Peter

    You have also revealed John Mason’s campaign slogan.

  40. Interesting that the relevant discussion (funny how irrelevant discussion always gets in) is mainly about Labour and the Tories. Perhaps not surprising but the levels of support for the Greens and Lib Dems are also worthy of comment. (Assuming they are accurate, of course.) The figures show a decline in support for the Greens (compared to polls a while ago) and a small rise in the level of support for the Lib Dems. A while ago it looked like the Greens were going to win far more seats than the Lib Dems. If these figures are accurate it looks more likely that these two parties will win a very similar number of seats.
    As far as the Tories are concerned they seem a little confused. A while ago I had a Tory leaflet delivered to my house asking me to vote for Ruth Davidson. She’s standing in Lothian Region. I live in West Scotland.

  41. JohnOgilvie1615

    You’re doing well since your martyrdom! :-)

    I think the problem of measuring support for the very small parties like the LDs and Greens (only the likes of the BBC imagine that UKIP will get near them in votes) is that regional samples for the List vote are so small.

    Will being graciously granted major party status give the LDs enough recognition to grab an extra List seat or so?

    Is Green strength sufficiently high in key regions to gain significantly?

    The evidence just doesn’t seem to be there yet.

  42. On a more serious matter, which might influence some opinion for Holyrood, LiS (via Kez and the Record) have come out today in support of per capita indexation for the fiscal framework, and the Record agreeing with Sturgeon/Swinney that signing up to the Treasury proposals would be a bad mistake.

    LiS putting clear water between themselves and the SCons, who support the Treasury position.

    The technical aspects of devolution have just moved into the mainstream (and apologies to those outwith Scotland who probably haven’t the faintest idea of what the “fiscal framework” is!)

  43. @oldnat

    That’s very interesting ‘re LiS and the FF. I wonder if that makes it more likely that the Scotland Bill will not be enacted even if it gives Swinney a stronger hand in today’s negotiations.

  44. Back from Edinburgh after a weekend of polling research.

    Took in the rugby while we were there.

  45. Assuming the polls are accurate LD are down from 7.9% in the constituency vote to 6% to 3%, so does that mean they could lose Shetland or Orkney as constituency seats?

    In terms of regional vote, the Greens did not run in any constituency seats last time, it would appear the Liberals might be up from 5.2% in 2011 and the Greens up from 4.4%.

    As OldNat says there needs to be a poll that shows the variation by region, as I am not convinced if the Green vote is concentrated in Lothian and Glasgow that it will necessarily result in any more seats for the Greens.

    At 5.2% last time the LD only ended up with 3 list seats, so it may actually come down to who is ahead in what region as to who gets the last seat LD or Green.

    The last time the Scottish Greens won more than 2 seats was 2003 when they took 6.9% of the regional vote and 7 seats, while the Scottish Socialists took 6.7% and 6 seats.

    That said what is the possibility that the pollsters are now overcompensating for their error with the Conservative vote in the GE?

  46. And Speaking of Wales are the LD’s on a trajectory for a wipeout from the Welsh Assembly, and are Plaid Cymru in a fight for third place with UKIP?

  47. Andy,

    I am not sure what if any changes have been made or needed to be with Scotland. As Anthony has pointed out FPTP means that even a small error can have a big effect and the U.K. polls having to few Tories meant that the predictions had Labour doing better in the head to head marginals, Con v Lab and the Tories taking more Libdem seats than expected.

    It didn’t actually take that much for the expected split in Labour’s favour in marginals to turn into no gains and predictions of the LibDems losing 30 to 40 mostly to Lab turning into 70 with the Tories picking up most of the extra 30+!

    As for Scotland they got everybody about right a though in part I think that could be down to the post Referendum higher turnout and more engaged young people. The higher the turnout the less differential turnout matters.

    For the LibDems here in the Highlands I wonder how much of their vote is concentrated in Orkney and in Shetland as they are small seats. Does doing well their mean they are doing poorly elsewhere from Argyll to Moray or are the seats to small to distort the figures?


  48. @Peter Cairns

    “For the SNP the best tactic for the next 90 days is lots of photo ops of Nicola being nice and compassionate “Mother of the Nation” stuff while avoiding any kind of debate or engagement with the other party leadeirs.”


    Would avoiding debate about the price of oil be handy?

    Article from the BBC…

    “Nearly 150 oil platforms in the UK North Sea are expected to be scrapped over the next 10 years, according to industry analysts.

    Of all the decommissioning over the next 25 years, more than half is likely to take place between 2019 and 2026.

    The estimate, from Douglas-Westwood, takes account of the fall in the price of oil.
    It suggested this will result in many oil fields in UK waters, including the North Sea, becoming uneconomic.

    Another consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, reported on Friday that, at recent prices, one in seven barrels of oil being produced in UK waters is at a cash loss.

    It said the UK is the country third most likely to see oil fields permanently shut down as a result of low prices. Canada and Venezuela have more production at a cash loss.”

  49. Peter Cairns,

    The number of voters on Shetland and Orkney is very, very low.

    I suspect that the Lib Dem vote is concentrated in areas on the mainland where they are still #2 vs. the SNP.

  50. Very concentrated, that is. That’s based on the GE, in which the Lib Dems actually did very well in the seats they were defending despite their extremely low national vote.

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