Monday, June 26, 2017

Boost for SNP in massive Panelbase poll

My concern for the SNP over the last couple of weeks has been the risk they might slip to second place in Westminster voting intentions - not behind the Tories, who have probably come pretty close to hitting their natural ceiling of support in Scotland, but behind Labour, who now have considerable momentum behind them.

There have only been a tiny handful of voting intention polls since the general election - probably because most polling firms called the election wrong, and there's little point in commissioning a poll from those that did until they've reviewed their methodology.  However, that hasn't applied to Survation, who famously got the election right (in defiance of Andrew Neil's clueless sneering in this extraordinary clip which has been charitably described as his "Michael Fish moment").  The Scottish subsamples of the two post-election Survation polls show a contradictory picture - the online poll had the SNP still in the lead with Labour in second place, but the phone poll had Labour ahead with the SNP in second.  The good news is that the phone subsample seemed to be very obviously skewed - Labour also had a significant lead on how people in Scotland recalled voting in the general election, when they should actually have been in third place on that measure.  So as of yet there's no convincing evidence from Survation that Labour have edged ahead of the SNP.

On Saturday night, word came through of an enormous GB-wide Panelbase poll which had Labour on 46% and the Tories on 41%.  A combined total of 87% for those two parties is unusually high, giving rise to the obvious concern that the SNP were being squeezed out in Scotland.  However, now the datasets have been released, it appears that isn't the case at all.  Irritatingly, there are no Scottish subsample figures, but there's enough information to make some educated guesswork.  The most important fact is that, unlike the Liberal Democrats, the SNP have retained the support of well over 90% of the people who voted for them earlier this month.  As you'd expect, the small minority of votes they've lost have essentially gone as a bloc to Labour, but that direct swing would be nowhere near enough on its own to push Labour into the lead.  Some of the SNP losses have been offset by new support from elsewhere, and a very rough calculation suggests that the SNP's share of the vote has probably only slipped from 37% to something in the region of 35% or 36%.  An extra 2% for Labour wouldn't even take them to 30%, so unless there has been very substantial movement from the Tories to Labour, it's hard to see how the SNP can possibly have been overtaken in this poll's Scottish subsample (which, it must be stressed, is an unusually large subsample of several hundred people).

After the relentless 'shock and awe' media propaganda campaign of the last couple of weeks which has attempted to finish off both the SNP and the Yes movement for good, I'd suggest it's hugely heartening if the SNP still have some sort of lead in Westminster voting intentions, even if that lead is fairly modest.

[Update : Either Panelbase have updated their datasets over the last couple of hours or I somehow missed the relevant part earlier, but the Scottish subsample is now available.  The figures are pretty close to the assumptions I made above : SNP 34%, Conservatives 30%, Labour 29%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Greens 1%.]

Bear in mind that the favourable wind behind Jeremy Corbyn isn't going to last forever, and Scottish Labour's chances of seizing the moment have been dealt a severe blow today by the nauseating Tory-DUP agreement, which on the face of it leaves Theresa May in a fairly healthy arithmetical position in parliament...

Conservatives + DUP : 328
All other parties (excluding Sinn Féin) : 315

That's a majority of 13, which means that it would take 7 by-election defeats or defections to put the government in an untenable position.  By-elections have become rarer in recent years, perhaps simply because general life expectancy has risen.  There were only three by-elections in Conservative-held seats in the entire 2015-17 parliament, and all three were caused by resignations rather than by deaths.  I'd suggest that at the very least it would take three years to wipe out the Tory/DUP majority, unless there is a sudden spate of defections from the Tories to either UKIP or the Lib Dems (or both).

On the other hand, the current situation has revived the old concept of a 'working majority', meaning a few seats over and above the total required for an overall majority.  Unless relations between the Tories and the Lib Dems warm up considerably, there is no real 'buffer' for the government outwith their own ranks and the DUP ranks.  The only opposition MP that would probably vote for them on a confidence vote is the independent Northern Ireland unionist Lady Hermon, on the basis that she wouldn't be able to accept Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister (although even she has very well-known anti-Tory leanings).  If the government lost as few as four or five by-elections, they would arguably have lost their 'working majority' because they wouldn't be able to get their business through the House reliably, and a general election would perhaps become inevitable at that point.  But even that would take quite a while.

So, for better or worse, it looks like the SNP will have plenty of time to steady the ship before facing the electorate again - which is another good reason why they shouldn't panic and needlessly reverse their policy on an independence referendum.

35 comments:

  1. Can you post a link to your fundraiser please! We like you.....

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  2. Sunshine on CrieffJune 26, 2017 at 7:38 PM

    Panelbase Scottish subsample is on page

    Con 30%
    Lab 29%
    LDm 5%
    SNP 34%

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    1. I don't know if I'm going mad or if they've updated their datasets since I checked them, because I couldn't see any geographical breakdown earlier. Ah well - those numbers are pretty close to what I was assuming.

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  3. I understand the rationale underpinning the post. But I'm finding it a bit difficult to see how a subsample showing the SNP on 34% (down from 37% in the GE), with both the Tories and Labour now looking like they're snapping at the heels is a boost for the SNP - especially if it's a reasonably large subsample at that.

    What seems to be more like not-quite-as-bad-as-it-could've-been news is not especially helping my sense of gloomy pessimism at the moment.

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    1. I thought I explained that pretty clearly. The anti-SNP media propaganda campaign over the last two weeks has been of an intensity I can't remember for years, and it's been coupled with dream coverage for Jeremy Corbyn. If there were ever circumstances in which Labour was going to overtake the SNP, these are those circumstances. If it hasn't happened (and indeed if Labour are still in third place), that's very encouraging because it suggests the SNP are weathering the storm. I would also remind people there's a possibility that the SNP's lead in Holyrood voting intentions is considerably stronger - that point hasn't even been tested in a poll for quite a while.

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    2. I understand the arguments, I'm just not sure I agree with some of them.

      The anti-SNP media propaganda has been pretty much constant for ages - I'm not sure I've detected any substantial increase in it because it's always been an extremely loud and constant megaphone of "SNP bad". Despite that, the polling had been holding up well until very recently.

      The Holyrood VI may well be better than that of Westminster, but unless there's a huge tranche of people out there who are now very much distinguishing and separating their VI in the Scottish and General Elections then it's still likely going to be a much lower SNP constituency share than 2016 - although maybe that will still work for the SNP as they'll be more likely to pick up additional list seats.

      It feels to me a bit like, even if the bubble's not burst, it has deflated somewhat. However, I really hope you're right and it's just me being glass-half-empty. As per another of your recent posts, a large-scale poll on indyref2 VI would be very useful right about now.

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    3. "The anti-SNP media propaganda has been pretty much constant for ages - I'm not sure I've detected any substantial increase..."

      The one thing I'm sure of is that's not true. The coverage of the last two weeks has been totally unprecedented - it's gone way beyond "SNP bad", and has been a sustained attempt to convince people that the SNP "lost" the election, that the "loss" is irreversible, and that the party should essentially pack up and go home. We've seen nothing like it before.

      I've no idea what a poll of Holyrood intentions would currently show, but I think you're jumping to conclusions in assuming that it would show a "much lower" SNP share. Support recently lost to the Tories because of Indyref 2 and Brexit would probably not come back in a Holyrood election, but support lost to Labour because of Jeremy Corbyn may be a very different matter.

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  4. James I really do admire your constant optimism and how you find positivity in the constant downward trajectory of the SNP vote. Do you work for the party? To say SNP have weathered the storm is missing the point that they are leaking support to both Tory and Labour and in Govt (as they are at Holyrood) it is only going to get worse over the next 3 years. I do not think peak Tory has been reached in Scotland and once the FM puts the referendum on the back burner watch the left wing Lab voters that SNP took over the last 3 years coming back home. It's not looking good I'm afraid!

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    1. First of all, Robert, let me point out for the uninitiated that you have previously described yourself on this blog as a "staunch unionist". Just so everyone understands what your agenda is here.

      Of course I don't work for the SNP - if I did, I wouldn't have spent the last two weeks expressing in very strong terms my fear that the SNP may be about to make a historic error by changing policy on an independence referendum.

      But anyone who thinks the SNP should be doing better than they are in this poll has utterly lost all sense of perspective about the situation we are currently in. No, the Tories do not have further to rise - they're likely to gradually slip back as the months and years progress. This is very much Peak Tory - not what you want to hear, I suspect, but true nonetheless. The threat to the SNP is from Labour - and if Labour are still trailing even after the unprecedented hammering the SNP have taken in the media over the last two weeks, I would suggest that's highly significant.

      Incidentally, you're just plain wrong in saying that the SNP are leaking support to both Tory and Labour - in this poll, they're essentially only losing support to Labour.

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    2. While Corbyn offers hope I think the SNP Westminster vote will always be under pressure. It's basically May v Corbyn at the moment - many SNP supporters admire Corbyn so it's not difficult to see people voting for his party.

      Different story altogether re Holyrood though. It's Dugdale v Sturgeon in Scotland - a whole different dynamic.

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    3. James I had hoped that staunch Unionists were allowed to read, digest, sometimes enjoy, sometimes agree with your analysis (as I have in the past) sometimes disagree, but to out me and say I have an agenda somewhat disheartens and aggrieves me. Do you just want Nationalists and those who agree with you on this blog? I really hope not. Why are you so sure peak Tory has been reached, also the figures suggest that 1.5% has gone to Tories since election, where did that come from if not from the SNP? (With 2% going to Lab). Also even if it is peak at 30% with these figures that actually is no good for the SNP as they drop another 10-12 seats. Is there any part of you that says "hey wait a minute this appears to be a downward natural spiral of decline?" as happens in politics and therefore what can be done to stem this decline?

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    4. I "outed" you for the very simple reason that it seemed to me you were deliberately posing as something you are not - the words "concern troll" spring to mind. It's not the first time - I see that you've previously posed as a great fan of Jim Sillars and his views on 'real independence'.

      The Panelbase poll is absolutely clear - after weighting, just one respondent (that's ONE) has moved from SNP to Tory since the general election.

      There is no "downward spiral". The pre-election polls clearly overestimated the SNP by several points, and that has now been corrected for with the introduction of weighting by recalled 2017 vote.

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  5. Flip sake you have a dossier on me....wow. I was not deliberately posing as a "concern troll". I am happy to nail my colours as I have in the past. Anyway if you would rather I don't comment in the future just say the word and I will stay away. I am no troll just an anorak like you interested in politics and as had hoped reasoned debate however I have been concerned for a while now that your actually not interested in that any more. However keep up
    the blog please I never miss your posts even with the 50% hyperbole added for effect !

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    1. No, I do not have a "dossier". I did a simple search of my email account to find your past posts - I found your "staunch unionist" comment within about five seconds.

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    2. You've been rumbled, fella. Don't be prissy about it, take it like a man-troll. GWC2 can show you the way. He NEVER plays the victim card. NEVER. Man, can he take a humiliation. I think he likes it.

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  6. I like this outed thingy James. Is it relevant? I outed myself I am a Unionist. Do you think the Nat sis will make it an offence to be or have been a Unionist. Stocks at the Trongate and such things.

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    1. The troll "GWC2" calls scottish people "jocks", made death threats on this blog while posing as a Yes supporter, advocates arming Leave campaigners, arbitrary deportations and public mutilations, claimed Jo Cox's husband was a fascist, uses racial, homophobic and ethnic slurs, pretends to be Labour (badly) while espousing far-right racist hate-speech, praises Theresa May and the tories and displays a perverted poisonous obsession with Scotland's First Minister.

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    2. Naw, we expect you to be honest, that's all.

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  7. Yup, holding up post-election when the accepted wisdom said that we got hammered is quite good. I'm not pleased that we allowed that to become the accepted wisdom for our second-best ever Westminster election, but there you go. I wrote something on the working majority caper and how recent events change it - http://calumcashley.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/did-cameron-save-mays-bacon.html - we might be tholing this Tory/DUP/sod the poor and the different crap for a while!

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    1. I often wonder why you nat sis take part in British elections! Murder incorporated drug dealing criminal Sinn Fein IRA also take part and take the money and do not turn up to vote. Maybe you fascists should do the same. Just line your pockets with taxpayers money and moan.

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    2. Demonstrate when the nat sis had any care for the poor in Scotland.

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    3. I shall demonstrate through the medium of dance ...

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    4. Gwc2..I know this is hard for you...IRELAND is an ISLAND.England is part of ANOTHER separate ISLAND! People on the first are Irish. People on the other are English, Welsh, Scottish or Asswipe Wankers....just saying...

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    5. Palmer issuing geography lessons! The Scots on the other voted for the Union with the others including NI.

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    6. The troll "GWC2" calls scottish people "jocks", made death threats on this blog while posing as a Yes supporter, advocates arming Leave campaigners, arbitrary deportations and public mutilations, claimed Jo Cox's husband was a fascist, uses racial, homophobic and ethnic slurs, pretends to be Labour (badly) while espousing far-right racist hate-speech, praises Theresa May and the tories and displays a perverted poisonous obsession with Scotland's First Minister.

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  8. Not convinced by this poll. The Tories are on the ropes from everything from Brexit to Grenfell. Whether the SNP have fallen from 37% is moot, personally I am sceptical there has been much movement, but I don't think the Tories are still second much less up 2%. Labour? I don't know, certainly not through SLab efforts but I would expect them to be ahead of the Tories. I think this poll is missing something.

    It is probably academic though. I doubt there could be an election before October and if May has anything to do with it not at all in the immediate political future.

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  9. The one thing that got me was the weak response by SNP in interviews etc. All they had to do was equate the Scottish result of 35mps out of 59 is the equivalent of T May getting a 100 seat majority in WM which no doubt they would have been describing as a landslide with a mandate for austerity and hard brexit. I didn't heat it once despite with tories plan backfiring and losing their majority would have put SNP on front foot. I sometimes despair at their lack of punchiness in MSM rebuttal.

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    1. It's not really equivalent though.

      If we had, say 10 parties, then getting 20% of the vote would probably win you a landslide in first-past-the-post.
      If we only have 2, then you need more than 50%. And all points in between.

      FPTP exaggerates the effects of small poll leads, which is why a lot of people would like to see PR.

      Comparing 2 different political landscapes might be amusing, but it isn't really that useful.

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    2. The media and PR side of the SNP has gone to pieces since Kevin Pringle moved on a few years ago. They still need an effective media rebuttal team as well. I see Nicola Sturgeon is going to make a statement to Holyrood, and sadly I think she is going to cave in on Indyref2. Grim times.

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    3. Doubtful. It'll be a vague statement or series of conditions that can be declared met or not met based on her own subjective viewpoint. The SNP giving up independence would be like Labour giving up the NHS or the Tories giving up capitalism.

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    4. "Comparing 2 different political landscapes might be amusing, but it isn't really that useful."

      I have to say your 'amusement' is entirely misplaced, Anon. Scotland currently (as far as Westminster elections are concerned) has a three-and-a-bit party system - directly comparable to the party system in past UK elections. For example, Tony Blair won a handsome majority of 66 seats in 2005 on the basis of 35% of the popular vote - less than the SNP received in Scotland this year.

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  10. IMO the SNP need to get a better grip on their communication strategy. Unionism in Scotland drives a tank. 'We' (Yes) are not the majority, this is an insurgent movement in a hostile environment, 'Stronger for Scotland' and 'Standing up for Scotland' simply don't cut any ice or get any attention. How about simply 'Take back control', worked for them. I think they need to up the rhetoric on Unionism and it's real world impact in Scotland or the game is up.

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    1. Be patient and let Brexit run its course. Every indication is that it will be a total disaster and the SNP will lmost certainly gain from that significantly.

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  11. Seems I was being too pessimistic earlier regarding indyref2. Think the FM has got it right today.

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  12. Surely, if the SNP lost another 4% of the vote to anyone, they would lose at least another four seats in a GE? There are a lot of tight seats - I think one in Fife would just need five people to change their vote, etc.

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