Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tremendously tasty TNS poll gives SNP 34% lead on constituency ballot

A couple of months ago, we were wondering if the polls would show any kind of Corbyn effect in Scotland.  (They didn't.)  One month ago, we were wondering if the impact of the Michelle Thomson stories in the press would change the state of play.  (It didn't.)  Now we're mostly wondering if the great tax credits con from Labour and a sympathetic media will have finally made a dent in the SNP's lead.  As always seems to be the case when the burning question of the day is asked, the release of the monthly TNS poll isn't of much use, because the fieldwork is so far out of date - it started almost a month ago on 16th October, and ended over a week ago on 4th November.

Constituency ballot :

SNP 58% (+2)
Labour 24% (+3)
Conservatives 12% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-2)

Regional list ballot :

SNP 52% (n/c)
Labour 25% (+2)
Conservatives 11% (n/c)
Greens 5% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-1)
UKIP 2% (-1)

Probably the best way of looking at the findings is as even more emphatic confirmation that neither Corbyn nor Thomson changed the game in any meaningful way.  The jury is still out as far as more recent events are concerned, although on past form Labour would probably be wise not to allow themselves to become too optimistic.

Since the general election, the SNP's share of the constituency vote in TNS polls has ranged from 56% to 62%.  With a standard 3% margin of error, that just about leaves open the possibility that the true position (or "true" if the TNS methodology is sound) has remained completely unchanged over the last six months at around 59%.  However, the first three polls all had Nicola Sturgeon's party on 60% or above, and the three more recent ones have all put the figure somewhere between 56% and 58%, so it seems much more likely that modest slippage took place at some point, probably a few months ago.  The apparent 2% bounceback since the last poll is probably just an illusion caused by sampling variation.

Labour also seem to have made a slight recovery from their catastrophic position in the spring, although it's hard to pinpoint exactly when that happened.  They were on a fairly steady 19-20% of the constituency vote in the first three post-election TNS polls, before jumping to 23% two months ago.  They slipped straight back to 21% in the last poll, which made us wonder if the increase was just a freakish result, but today's post-election high of 24% would suggest otherwise.  Needless to say, though, the pace of any recovery will have to speed up dramatically if the SNP are to be denied a second overall majority next year.  It also remains to be seen whether Labour are going to be able to do anything more than recover support they mostly lost after the general election, or whether ex-Labour voters who actually put their cross next to the SNP in May have made a more fundamental psychological break and are now largely gone for good.  To put it in perspective, just 4% of SNP general election voters are now in the Labour column.  Admittedly Labour are the only major party that the SNP have lost any support to at all, but the flipside is that 11% of Labour voters from May are planning to vote for another party next year.

Perhaps a very slight danger-sign for the SNP is that the support they have gained over and above their 50% general election result has come disproportionately from people who didn't vote in May or can't remember how they voted.  It's reasonable to assume that people who didn't vote before are less likely to do so again.  Sure enough, when TNS apply a filter to include only "certain" voters, the SNP's vote slips slightly to 56%, and the lead over Labour is cut to "just" 31%.

This is yet another devastating TNS poll for Ruth Davidson and the Tories.  It remains possible that they've lost even more support since the spring, because the first two post-election polls had them at 15% and 14% respectively.  Since then they've been at a steady 12%.  It's true that YouGov have been more favourable for them, and its also true that TNS/System 3 have a track record over several decades of underestimating them by a few points, perhaps because of a Shy Tory Factor when people are interviewed face to face.  But even allowing for that, the excited chatter in the right-wing media about Davidson replacing Kezia Dugdale as Leader of the Opposition looks fanciful in the extreme based on these figures.

Not quite as fanciful as the talk of Patrick Harvie becoming Leader of the Opposition, though.  The Greens were on 10% of the list vote in the first post-election TNS poll, but have been languishing on 5% in the last two polls.  On that level of support, they might add one seat to their current tally of two, but they might not even do that.  Unless something dramatic happens soon, even those who have (wrongly) convinced themselves that "tactical voting on the list" is a viable strategy may start to have a rethink.  I've just received an email from RISE entitled "TNS poll shows SNP 2nd votes wasted", but frankly that refrain has never sounded more laughable.  If the figures in this poll are replicated in May, RISE votes on the list will be totally wasted (the SSP have a rounded list vote of 0%), and even Green votes will be wasted in the majority of the eight electoral regions.

I must say I'm slightly bemused by the priorities TNS have for their supplementary questions.  It took until two months ago for them to ask the independence question for the first time since the referendum.  That produced a clear Yes lead, which was such a startling finding that you'd think they might have repeated the exercise at least once during the last two polls, but not a bit of it.  We do have personal ratings for the party leaders in today's poll, though.  As you'd expect, Nicola Sturgeon is by some distance the most popular of the crop, and Ruth Davidson's numbers are absolutely dreadful (just 11% of respondents give her a rating of 7 or higher out of 10).  Taken in combination with the Conservatives' lowly share of the vote, and the fact that they hit a historic low of just 14.9% under Davidson's leadership at the general election, it's phenomenally hard to understand where the media mythology of a Scottish Tory renaissance has sprung from.

The SNP will draw considerable comfort from Jeremy Corbyn's rating, which is almost as bad as Ruth Davidson's (but admittedly nowhere near as bad as David Cameron's).  15% of respondents give the new UK Labour leader a rating of 7 or higher, while 36% give him a 4 or lower. That suggests the majority of people have already made up their minds about Corbyn, thus reducing the likelihood of a delayed "true socialist" bounce for Labour in the months to come.

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27 comments:

  1. #Toryrevival

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  2. Labours increase is 50% higher than the SNPs.A ringing,or should that be wringing? endorsement of Kezias leadership.

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    1. Typical biased cybernat interpretation. Labour have gained a 14% increase on their previous figure for the constituency vote while the SNP increase is less than 2%. At this rate, SLAB will overtake the SNP I'm March of next year and gain a resounding majority vote by May. Kezia is a legend. Surprised the BBC haven't cottoned on to this yet. (ridiculously sarcastic smiley face tjingy).

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    2. Thank goodnes for parenthesis. You had me worried there.

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  3. Watching Ruth and Kezia on a range of issues, its as if they didn't want their parties to be part of Scotland's political landscape.
    When the full truth and implications about the Scotland Bill/ tax credits filters out through social media wonder how far Labour will fall.

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    1. For one dreadful moment I read that Ruth and the Dug didn't want their panties to be part of Scotland's political landscape. Off for a lie down.

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    2. I felt it was needed due to the long standing lack of a sense of the absurd exhibited by the Pouters.

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  4. Labour may have reached "peak bam", left (cough) with the voters who would vote for anyone in a red rosette. Renders kezia an irrelevance. Of course there is still an entire election campaign to be run, so remaining SLab vote could still be soft, particularly to Tory pressure to the right, SNP and green to the left, and to anyone who has ever been in a sandwich shop.

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  5. After an unusually blatant BritNat media onslaught the SNP's vote holds good.

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  6. How is your party of choice doing Glasgow working class? Ha Ha Ha.

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  7. UKIP vote has collapsed. Down to just 1/3 of what it was in the last TNS poll.

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  8. Labour vote a bit higher. Lib Dems almost certainly too low. Tories almost certainly too low.

    Aldo

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    1. Who needs scientifically conducted opinion polls when we have your gut feelings, Aldo?

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    2. Indeed.

      It's not just that though. Lib Dem support was predicted to be extremely low in the run in to the GE. They actually polled about 7.5% (very healthy compared to projections). Tories performed as expected but added 20,000 more supporters. They only saw their percentage slip because the turnout was so high.

      So, for these reasons, I think the Lib Dems and Tories will perform better than has been predicted here. I would put Tories on about 16% and Libs on about 7 or 8%. If that's true, all Labour has to do is get to 29% to endanger the pro indy majority.

      Aldo

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    3. Just to add - this is TNS (the most pro SNP of all the pollsters). I would expect a YouGov or Survation or ICM to show the SNP lower and Labour higher.

      A lot of the fieldwork for this one is old as well. A lot has happened in the last month to take the shine off the SNP.

      Aldo

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    4. Hope springs eternal, Aldo. As I pointed out in the blogpost, last month you were pinning all your hopes on the Michelle Thomson affair.

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    5. The fieldwork was 16th October to 4th November. So, ended only just 8 days ago.

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    6. Lol. Come on, give it up Aldo, who pays you to comment on here?

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  9. It is interesting that support more or less doubles each time, from the Greens/LibDems to the SNP. The Scottish electorate are behaving exponentially!

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  10. I thought Ruthie tank commander said that the tories were poised to overtake Labour as the main opposition at Holyrood? Mind you, she also said that they would harvest huge numbers of NO voters at the GE. :)

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  11. Good poll figures. It still 6 months to go.

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  12. I completed a Panelbase online poll a couple of days ago, and a Populus telephone poll the same day.
    Usual questions on past and future voting intentions, plus the referendum question.
    I have a feeling the Panelbase poll was commissioned from Wings.

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  13. Just a thought. If the SNP did the imposible and got 58% in the actual vote. Where would that leave Indy 2. Surely the support in itself is a mandate for change. The only way to get change is independence.

    Would the SNP push for a referendum on the back of this ,even if it wasn't in their manifesto? Although we can argue that when you vote for the SNP everyone knows they are the party of independence.

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  14. I think we'll have to see if any of this is replicated in the upcoming Panelbase poll and if anyone else polls (I'm expecting a YouGov, Survation and Ipsos MORI poll this month - based on the current polling pattern).

    I don't think anything major has occurred in the last few months to suggest a massively different picture - so the changes in the vote shares may just be sampling variation.

    The fact 46% of Scots don't know who Dugdale is though, is quite funny.

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  15. Let's hope these good figures hold through the election.
    Westminster has tried to ignore the huge constitutional mandate the electorate gave the SNP at the GE.
    I would include in the SNP manifesto, a clause mandating the SNP to renegotiate the UK union ( like Cameron with the EU), with a referendum on the outcome.
    I don't expect talks would even take place.

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  16. The Tories vote may be slipping further because of a disgust at the ideological way that the government has been treating the working poor by the proposal to cut tax credits. I have a dear friend in Edinburgh who has been a loyal Conservative party worker for many years and tells me that she is 'not sure' that she is prepared to distribute leaflets the party have just left with her, and that her children (in their teens and twenties) have all told her they won't be voting Conservative. The main reason Edinburgh Conservatives vote Conservative is that they trust them to run the economy. They don't however support attacks on the poor. The ones that I know are churchy, and it's un-Christian to oppress the poor.

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  17. The party popularity ratings are pretty much pointless though. Basically everyone who supports a party said they liked that parties leader, and disliked everyone else.

    11% of respondents have Ruth 7 or higher, the same 11% who said they'd be voting Tory presumably.

    Green surge looks dead in the water, and RISE and UKIP will not get a seat between them I don't think.

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