Thursday, April 2, 2015

Nicola Sturgeon wins the debate by a landslide, say viewers in Scotland

The datasets from the Survation instant reaction poll are now out, and the Scottish subsample shows that respondents north of the border thought Nicola Sturgeon won the seven-way leaders' debate by a comfortable margin.

Who do you think won the debate?  (Survation, Scottish respondents only) :

Nicola Sturgeon 46.5%
Ed Miliband 24.8%
Nigel Farage 13.3%
David Cameron 8.9%
Nick Clegg 5.6%
Leanne Wood 0.9%
Natalie Bennett 0.0%

This is hugely significant, because at Britain-wide level the Survation poll was actually the weakest for Sturgeon of the four polls we've seen this evening.  So when we see all the Scottish subsamples, it's highly likely that Sturgeon will have scored a decisive victory across the board.

UPDATE : And here is the very similar Scottish subsample from ICM. I haven't actually located the datasets yet, so I'm taking these numbers on trust!

Which of the seven leaders taking part do you think won the contest? (ICM, Scottish respondents only) :

Nicola Sturgeon 49%
Ed Miliband 16%
David Cameron 12%
Nigel Farage 11%

Natalie Bennett 5%
Nick Clegg 4%
Leanne Wood 3%

The YouGov datasets have been released, but irritatingly they don't contain a geographical breakdown.  Perhaps more detail will appear tomorrow.  However, as Sturgeon won that poll on a Britain-wide level, we can safely assume that she was well ahead in the Scottish subsample.

What struck me most about the debate was that Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood pursued almost opposite strategies - Sturgeon downplayed the Scottish dimension and presented herself almost as a UK political leader, while Leanne Wood mentioned Wales several times in practically every answer.  The strange thing is that their objectives were exactly the same, ie. to maximise the vote for their party in their own constituent nation of the UK.  So they both thought they had the best strategy for achieving that objective, and they can't both have been right.

Although Wood was the least polished performer (with the possible exception of Natalie Bennett), it seems to me that the constant mentions of Wales may be a big part of the reason why she fared so poorly in the GB-wide polls.  Many English people will have thought "she's not even interested in me".  That doesn't necessarily mean that she made a misjudgement - if she was able to speak directly to her target voters and if they liked what they heard, then it will all have been worth it.  She'd much rather see Plaid Cymru make two or three gains in May than finish third or fourth in a Britain-wide debate poll.  But the flipside is that her target voters could actually have been impressed by a good showing in the British polls, and that's an advantage the SNP will now enjoy and Plaid Cymru won't.

The polling firms are split on whether Cameron or Miliband performed better, but they're all agreed that it was a very close battle between the two.  So, as was the case with the Paxman interview show last week, Miliband has exceeded expectations, and is probably closer to neutralising Labour's huge leadership handicap - which was the one and only factor that led most commentators to anticipate that the Tories would eventually pull away as the election approached.  Although an incumbent government can normally expect to benefit from swingback in the opinion polls, it generally happens before the start of the formal campaign period.  So it could be that Labour have already dodged that bullet, in which case some sort of Labour/SNP governing arrangement is now firmly on the cards.


  1. Not a million miles off from the VI results that we get from polls, albeit with a stronger UKIP showing.

  2. That's frightening that the anti-Scottish "cut funding north of Hadrians wall" Nigel Farage comes 3rd in Scotland with almost 15%.

    Just shows how thick and self harming some Scots are.

    To be honest it just seems to be going by political allegiance and not who truly performed the best.

    1. There are 400,000 English people in Scotland remember, I reckon they account for a large part of the UKIP support.

    2. There are also a great many holiday home owners. I know a good half dozen that voted No and voted UKIP in the Euro Elections. They wont be voting in Scotland at the GE though. They have concluded that Moray is safe for the SNP and will cast their votes in their English Constituencies.

    3. Thick and self harming? A bit like assuming all people in Scotland are Scottish. I'd love to hear more of your intuitive teachings. But alas your monthly quota of thought seems to be somewhat overused. Never mind come may you might have another great, but woefully incorrect assertion.

  3. Nicola ripped their bollocks off and handed them back deep fried. Incredibly she has won the UK wide polls - that was considered virtually impossible beforehand. It could also be a massive gamechanger for the election - Labour are deadmeat in Scotland but will be in a much stronger position down south as voters see through the Tory's 'vote labour get SNP' scaremongering.

    1. "Labour are deadmeat in Scotland but will be in a much stronger position down south as voters see through the Tory's 'vote labour get SNP' scaremongering."

      I doubt it. The sort of English voters who would be impressed by Nicola Sturgeon are hardly the sort of people who would ever have considered voting Conservative in the first place.

    2. My point is that 'soft' Labour voters being scared into Tory arms with the spectre of big, bad Salmond will be less inclined to do so.

    3. Hard to say. Some voters, of all parties, whose heads had been filled with rabid anti-SNP propaganda making them sound like the IRA, will now have a very different view of the Nats. But the precise effect is impossible to evaluate without detailed surveys of English public opinion.

    4. "My point is that 'soft' Labour voters being scared into Tory arms with the spectre of big, bad Salmond will be less inclined to do so."

      It all depends on what sort of voters the anti-SNP Tory advertisements are aimed at. Somebody who is impressed with Nicola Sturgeon's anti-austerity and anti-nuclear rhetoric isn't going to vote Conservative in a million years. If they were going to vote for any other party it would be Green, so the Tories aren't going to waste their time with them. The anti-SNP posters are going to be aimed at the sort of swing voters who will be utterly horrified at the SNP's policies. That won't be diminished by these debates. The exact opposite could happen, in fact.

    5. I'm glad that there was no clear winner between Miliband and Cameron.
      The worst situation for Scotland is for one party to pull ahead and end up with a clear majority.

      I think it might be better seeing Labour going into voting day with a small lead, because I expect Cameron will get a boost on polling day with UKIP voters switching to get the EU referendum.

    6. ""Labour are deadmeat in Scotland but will be in a much stronger position down south as voters see through the Tory's 'vote labour get SNP' scaremongering."

      Correct and we pointed it out on here well before the debate. Though to be fair it was the hysterical right-wing press doing the bidding of the tories who look most stupid as we knew they would.

      Lot's of spin from the out of touch westminster parties and their drones after last night the most amusing of which is that the debates somehow don't matter that much. Like fuck they don't. That kind of staggering complacency from Labour, tory and lib dem spinners is glaringly obvious when anyone can read a poll these past few months and knows fine well that Labour and the tories are basically neck and neck with a hung parliament on the cards every bit as much as it was in 2010. The obvious strength of the SNP and weakness of the lib dems being the big difference this time.

      So with every MP likely to matter how out of touch do you have to be not to understand how vital even a few percent of votes will be in deciding who has the upper hand and the most MPs.

      Put it this way, even a couple of percent difference between the tories and Labour could easily translate into who can form a minority government (with and who cannot.

      So if cowardly Cameron ends up with a handfull less MPs than little Ed when the tories turn on him they will point to him running away from the remaining debate as proof that he didn't want it enough and handed it to little Ed on a plate.

      Doesn't matter that you are hugely unlikely to get massive swings after the debates, what matters if that you can solidify your support and get the don't knows leaning heavily to your side.

      There was a ComRes not all that long ago which had 45% rating the debates as "important" and 17% "very important". That's still behind 'party leader' and 'manifesto' as in terms of importance but ignoring those type of numbers is a sure-fire way to lose an election through complacency.

      There are a few scant weeks left till polling day and there's only so much you can do to change minds now. The debates are one and the ground campaign is the other.

      The newspapers are laughably far behind the debates as the best way to change voters minds, (so little are they now trusted and so pitiful have their circulations become) while PPBs can never hope to match a debate as a mass audience medium that changes minds.

      There will lots and lost of very, very happy SNP campaigners and supporters after last night and you can bet we are raring to go this weekend with stalls and events planed to take full advantage of Nicola's superb debate performance. :-D

    7. It's not all about vote switching though, it's also about who turns out to vote at all? Why suppose that '...getSNP' is ever aimed at 'converting' that party's support, rather than energizing one's own and demonizing/demoralizing the other? I haven't seen positive campaigning at a UK level in years, so how else to capitalize on fractional, cosmetic differences? In FPTP, reducing the opponent's vote is as good as increasing one's own, and it hardly takes much to convince people not to bother voting...

  4. I wonder what Jim Murphy will do...

    1. Put his poor undies in the wash, I would have thought.....
      Oh joy. Nasty right wing Jim. Hope he loses his seat to the SNP and then exits politics for ever.

  5. Just some thoughts. I didn't watch the debate, I hate debates. Consensus seems to be that Nicola Sturgeon won (Certainly with regards to the Scottish viewers) and I have no particular reason to doubt that. Sturgeon is undoubtedly a very effective politician. However, I question the accuracy of any polls. These polls are weighted to fit the general population rather than the demographic profile of the those who watched the debates (Something that is unknowable). It all seems like more an attempt in creating spectacular headlines than a truly rigorous attempt at gauging public opinion.

    1. Stoat, you are in a really weak position. First of all you didn't watch the debate; unless you were a one eyed loon you could see Sturgeon was the clearest and most competent. In addition as I've noted above she is winning the UK 'poll of polls'. Anyone can gauge how good she is and how sound the SNP policies are.

      Perhaps as telling is the 'who did worst' polls that shows Sturgeon at the bottom by miles. Ironically probably only voted by a few Scots

    2. Er, I clearly didn't question that she won. In fact, I specifically said that I didn't doubt that she won because of my belief that she is a very effective politician. What I was questioning was polling methodology. If you weigh a poll according to the general population, you won't get an accurate picture. You'd have to weigh it according to the demographic profile of the viewers. People who watch televised debates will, by definition, be more politically engaged than average, so they won't give you a picture of what more disengaged people will think.

      What I doubt is that there were many people watching these debates who hadn't already made their minds up about voting.

    3. Also:

      "unless you were a one eyed loon you could see Sturgeon was the clearest and most competent."

      That would mean that a clear majority of UK viewers, as well as (According to these flawed polls) a narrow majority of Scottish viewers are one eyed loons as they disagreed that Sturgeon came out on top.

    4. That is pretty much about the size of it. One eyed loon is a bit of hyperbole but essentially yes. Tribal, totally subjective, driven by a deep dislike of the SNP and unable to get over their prejudices.

      I've always thought Sturgeon a strong and effective politician but have increasingly wary of the 'Nicola' rockstar love in afflicting supporters. She is starting to look worthy of the much of the hype.

  6. She takes 49% in the ICM Scottish sample.

  7. "So they both thought they had the best strategy for achieving that objective, and they can't both have been right"

    Of course they could both be right, they are addressing entirely different situations; Nicola is looking to build an even larger coalition and Leeann is looking to secure her core vote.

    1. Leanne's looking to gain seats. Her target list is smaller but she's scarcely in defensive mode.

    2. She has a chance if UKIP eats into the Labour vote in a couple of seats but only if she can keep her own vote share up - which she is struggling to do at the moment.

    3. But that's based on national Welsh polls. What matters is how they're doing in the two or three target constituencies, and according to Dafydd Wigley their private data suggests they're doing much better there. That could just be spin, of course, but time will tell.

    4. I think Anonymous is correct. The strategies are different because the parties are in very different situations. Sturgeon is unquestionably dominant in Scotland, First Minister, and could decide who the next PM of the UK is. She's facing attack ads from the Tories: Salmond 'caling the tune', etc. It's not surprising that her strategy has been to reassure rUK voters of her good intentions, emphasise shared progressive values and goals, and focus less on narrow Scottish interest. Wood on the other hand must aspire to take her party to where the SNP are now: and that means the task in front of her is tocement it in the minds of Welsh voters as the strongest voice for Wales within a devolved settlement. She doesn't need to talk so much about the future governance of the UK: her MPs at Westminster will be part of the Green-Nat bloc, but I would expect them to be guided by the SNP as far as negotiations with Miliband are concerned.

    5. The interesting thing is Plaid are generally up in Ashcroft's constituency polling, but on the same level in Welsh national polling.

  8. Taking the average of all the polls taken tonight, Nicola comes out on top with 28% & SNP gained 1621 new members in 3 hours!

    1. Herald reporting 1800+ now

  9. Swap Cameron for Milliband and that's almsot like a poll for the parties in Scotland

  10. Where it matters most, will be the 'soft' Lab/Con/SNP/LD/UKIP/Green voters.. & undecideds.

    Would be interesting, if any tables, to see this. The next Scots only poll, will be an interesting one too.

    Also the next Welsh poll!

    1. "Where it matters most, will be the 'soft' Lab/Con/SNP/LD/UKIP/Green voters.. & undecideds."

      This times a million. If you've already firmly decided how you will vote then your opinions on this are utterly inconsequential. The only people who matter in this are the soft and undecided voters. Narrower still, it's only those soft and undecided voters who actually watched the debate that truly matter here. In itself, that is a minority of a minority.

    2. In other words, the debates pretty much count for FA squared.


    Data Sheet from ICM.

  12. Nicola was shoring up Labour to SNP switchers in Scotland. And she achieved that...
    Making it clear she would support Ed on tax first off, being fairly nice to Ed and directing her anger towards Farage and Cameron. Advocating a left wing agenda. The pitch is that the SNP will keep UK Labour honest.

    The fact that also appeals to rUK Labour voters is a bonus.

    1. It's just occurred to me that as well as trying to appeal to rUK Labour voters and Labour to SNP switchers - it may also play well among some sections of Scots-based voters originally from other parts of the UK. A lot of these voted No, but may be reassured by the outreach she made to rUK voters?

      Just a thought.

    2. That's an excellent point actually. Lessen the feeling in some quarters that the SNP are anti-English.

  13. Could this be the night UK Labour sanctioned the slaughter of Scottish Labour?

    1. There would be no love lost between Miliband and Murphy by all account.

    2. At some level, I reckon Ed might be quite pleased to see SLAB routed (provided he manages to get into government anyway). It would strengthen his leadership by ending the ambitions of Murphy, who long looked like a viable alternative.

    3. If Ed wants to seal the deal he needs to cut Scotland loose.

      Abandon it to the SNP who he knows will not support Cameron and plough all the financial and salaried organisational resources that will save into the English marginals.

      I've suggested this before but I think only now will Miliband be able to countenance. He is making no headway in Scotland and Cameron is starting to inch ahead in the UK polls.

      It would be hilarious watching Murphy try to convince everyone that this was his decision rather than the real leaders of 'Scottish' Labour.

  14. Were those scottish subsample figures weighted or unweighted?

    Assuming most people vote for 'their' candidate as the winner (early data I've seen shows 90%+ of party affiliates reckoned their own leader won the debate), then NS has outperformed on a wider GB level (20% vs 5%), but her Scottish scores aren't that much better than the normal SNP ones for subsamples?

    1. It wasn't a poll of the population, but a poll of people who watched the debate. It also wasn't a poll of voting intention, but how well watchers thought the leaders came across. It would be possible for someone to say Farage did well when they hate UKIP for example.

      There's not much to read into it other than, of the Scots who watched, Nicola came out on top by a country mile.

    2. You're correct, but you have to take into account the bias going in. People are more favourably predisposed to their own candidate, plus their candidate will say things they want to hear, so there's an inherent link between affiliation and bias.

      Analysis last night showed 91% of Labour identifiers in one of the polls thought Milliband won, and 95% of Conservatives gave it to Cameron. Likewise I could have told you in advance that this site would consider Sturgeon to be the winner, while DHotherstall would call it for Milliband etc. Most of the UKIP sites this morning are calling it for Farage. People shill for their preferred party no matter what the facts are, especially the more fanatic types.

      This also explains Leanne Wood's 2% showing, as well as Natalie Bennet's 5%. Neither of them were stellar last night, but I'd think most folk would agree they weren't *that* bad, they just did an ok job. Both of them are polling at roughly the same level as their parties, which is about right.

      NS clearly outperformed. Despite 5% of the people watching (on average) being SNP supporters going in, she pulled around 20% at the end of the debate. That makes sense as well. She had a good performance, arguably the best around the table, and as a new leader that was the first time a lot of non-Scots will have heard her speak.

      But in Scotland, where the SNP pull somewhere around 40%, I'd expect to see roughly 40% of people call her the winner as a baseline response, she's pulled something in the 40-50 region. Which is about right. The Peter Bells of this world will call her the winner even if she turned up drunk and threw up on the moderator, but she clearly impressed a few people outside of the SNP core as well. Just not much more than she'd expect to get anyway.

    3. A small subsample, but possibly of relevance:

      As a result of the debate are you more likely to vote for any of the following parties (Scottish respondents)?

      54% SNP
      17% Con
      17% Lab
      10% Green
      8% UKIP
      6% Lib

      People are unlikely to jump to another party down to a single debate. It might make them lean a bit more or start considering when they did not before though. The latter is probably more the case in England - there were a lot of DK's about Sturgeon / SNP down there; now they've seen there's a section reasonably impressed.

    4. That would make sense, while people up here are used to hearing NS speak, she'll be fairly new to a lot of southern voters who previously would only really have heard Alex Salmond.

      And while Salmond is a formidable speaker, he also comes across as an extremely partisan and totally political animal, while I think Sturgeon will have been a more refreshing sight to TV viewers.

      I think she played a very balanced hand, and was very smart in avoiding the usual anti-everything-Westminster frothing that we sometimes get from certain quarters of the SNP.
      Even as a non-SNP voter I'd have to rate her as the top performer last night.

      I wonder if we'll see any impact on the English Labour vote. With the Cons pushing heavily on the fear aspect of a Labour/SNP pact, Nicola Sturgeon may have eased those worries with her performance yesterday.

  15. Sturgeon "outperformed" in the debate opinion polls, because she spoke directly to the English left. In contrast, Wood and Bennet also did well, but they spoke to their own supporters (count how many times Wood mentions "Wales" or "PC"!).

    1. I would agree. I'm not an SNP voter, but NS made a smart move by talking at a national level rather than a local one, and also positioning herself to appeal to Labour voters who are disappointed by the parties rightward shift since the Blair years.

      It let her create a space for herself in the debate, which is necessary with so many people on the stage. By contrast, Nick Clegg did fine in terms of actual speaking, but couldn't find any way to really define a space, so his performance comes across as comparably poor.

      Nobody actually did badly though, they were all ok. Possibly the only mistake was Farage on HIV, and even that probably won't hurt his core vote.

      And Leanne Wood could easily get a job reading audiobooks. Lovely voice.

    2. Agreed on the last point! If this was ranked on mellifluousness - and it might as well be, since the TV commentators talk seriously about panelists gurning too much and so on - it would've been a Wood landslide. And Farage and Bennett would lose their deposits.

  16. I think the figures from YouGovs poll of 'undecided voters' will be the most interesting.

    Not sure when they will release the figures, but Peter Kellner from YouGov is saying that it showed a large % of these undecided, said they though Nicola convinced them the most.

  17. For those that are registered with YouGov they have a map of the UK with a "nowcast" for each constituency within their YouGov election center

    Its currently showing the SNP taking 56 seats and shows polling ranges for each constituency. Currently showing Labour only holding onto Willie Bains seat but even that is "too close to calll"

    Interestingly they also have a forecast in which they predict the SNP will take 35 seats. Its worth a look.

  18. Scottish Labour Party must of looked on with horror as Nicola polled well in England

    MSM using the nasty cyber-nats line for months and Nicola destroying it in one night

  19. Not scientific, but an interesting comparison, here are the average UK personal ratings from the leaders debate minus the average UK party polling.

    NS-SNP = +12.5
    NF-UKIP = +7.6
    LW-PC = +1.8
    NC-LibDem = +0.5
    NB-Greens = -1.2
    DC-Tory = -12
    EM-Labour = -12.5

    This may indicate the SNP and UKIP could be the main beneficiaries at the expense of Labour and the Tories.

  20. James,

    It is all wonderful, much better than we could possibly have predicted. But I don't agree with your prognostication. There has been a definite UK swing from Labour to Tory in the last fortnight, with Tories now ahead in almost all opinion polls. The Tory preponderance in corporate media is just seriously beginning to engage, as is their vastly greater campaign war chest. The Tory squeeze on the UKIP vote is also demonstrably underway. There is no similar resource for Miliband.

    On top of which, the traditional Labour bias in the FPTP system is not as large a factor as it was. Number of reasons for this. First and most important is the SNP. Both a large number of those small electorate urban constituencies, and a large part of the geographic concentration that benefits Labour under FPTP, was in Scotland. Labour are going to get smashed in Scotland by the SNP.

    There has been a polarisation in English politics and the Tory vote has also become more geographically concentrated. Also UKP are picking up votes in Tory no hope areas that might otherwise have been died in the wool Tory, while in Lab/Tory marginals UKIP vote will be squeezed.

    So the Labour FPTP 40-50 seat "bonus" if the percentages are the same, I believe is now much reduced. Plus on polling day I think the Tories will be 4 points ahead.

    But I am relaxed about this. If your aim is genuinely Scottish independence, five more years of Cameron will do it - especially as the Labour reaction to defeat will be to replace Ed Miliband with something still more right wing. And that EU referendum will come.

    In my analysis, the only thing that can STOP Scotland being independent before 2020 is a Labour/SNP coalition government. So why do you want it? Genuine question and asked in a genuinely friendly spirit from someone who greatly admires your work.

    1. sorry speaking loosely - "coalition" or confidence and supply etc

  21. Again not scientific, the ratio of leaders UK ratings versus party UK polling.

    NS/SNP = 5.13
    LW/PC = 3.57
    NF/UKIP = 1.57
    NC/LibDem = 1.06
    NB/Greens = 0.8
    DC/Tory = 0.65
    EM/Labour = 0.63

    Which may indicate that both the SNP and Plaid could well benefit in Scotland and Wales due to the increased exposure of their leaders.

  22. welsh politics observerApril 3, 2015 at 1:28 PM

    Welsh voter hear, I love your blog and your enthusiasm for us welsh to get our act together, last night will have helped whatever the national UK polls say.

    Yes there were defiantly two different strategies employed by Nicola and Leanne as the parties are in different places at the moment, Nicola was great by the way.

    To give you some context for Wales, last night’s debate was watch by 6.7 across the UK at it’s peak , that’s more than double the welsh population so Plaid Cymru reached a whole new level especially as we don’t have Welsh version of UK papers and BBC Wales is as biased when it comes to Plaid Cymu and BBC Scotland is to the SNP. Meaning Plaid is more reliant than most on door knocking and social media to try and engage voters.

    I’m not a member, but I suspect Plaid Cymru will be quietly happy this morning, the only welsh based newspaper gave Leanne and Nicola the ‘win’ last night, the Nigel Farage slap down gave Leanne a moment to be remembered and Ed Milliband avoiding questions about his party’s duplicity on Welsh issues like the NHS and Barnett play into Plaid’s hands in the coming weeks.

    They’ve had more members and social media followers and another boost is that Labour in Wales have been trying in vain all week to discredit Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru but have hardly said a word this morning

    And if that wasn’t enough here’s a comment from a welsh blog this morning ‘I easily saw over 200 people on Twitter either committing to vote Plaid Cymru, moving towards Plaid or wanting more info about the party, many in their 3 target seats and even 2 undecided’s in Monmouthshire. Plaid’s task is to build on this chance and make sure they send more than 3 MP’s to Westminster’

    Keep up the great work and good luck to you the SNP, I hope they get all the Scottish seats!