When I noticed a few hours ago that The National were splashing with a John Curtice essay on whether it's a good or a bad idea for independence supporters to vote "tactically" on the Holyrood regional list, I had a horrible feeling that it might be a "both sides of the argument must have prizes" article that would leave people with less clarity in their minds, not more. So it was a great relief to see that Curtice has in fact very emphatically stated that tactical voters are taking a risk, and listed a number of the exact same reasons that I set out in the article that Bella Caledonia notoriously wanted to "improve" -
1) That it's not much use voting tactically for small parties like RISE or Solidarity if polls suggest they're going to fall miles short of winning any seats at all.
2) That the SNP may well be reliant on list seats to retain their majority if their support slips.
3) That the SNP won at least one list seat in seven out of eight regions last time (ie. their list votes weren't "wasted").
4) That past history suggests the polls may be overestimating the Green list vote, thus making it hard to tell whether the Greens or the SNP are the best "tactical" bet in any given region.
There are of course several other important reasons as well, but that's not a bad tally to be getting on with, and hopefully the fact that someone as impeccably neutral as Professor Curtice has said all this will finally put to rest the silly idea that only "SNP tribalists" would ever dispute the claim that tactical voting on the list is a risk-free enterprise.
Incidentally, on point 4, although it's true that the polls significantly overstated the Green list vote in both 2007 and 2011, it's also the case that Green support in the polls rose significantly in the weeks leading up to election day. On past form, their showing in the polls right now might not be a bad indication of where they'll end up - ie. they'll rise gradually during March and April, and then in the actual election abruptly drop back to roughly where they started. If so, they might just be in line for some kind of breakthrough. But there again, past history is no guarantee of future performance, and all we know for sure is that polling for the list is generally less reliable than constituency polling. Hardly a recipe for taking a punt on the list with any confidence.