Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sensational poll suggests SNP would make sweeping GAINS in an early Westminster election

Rarely have I been so delighted to be proved wrong.  I had suspected that last week's Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times contained a Westminster voting intention question that was being withheld until this week for the purposes of a "blow for Sturgeon" headline, ie. because the results were markedly worse for the SNP than the Holyrood numbers.  Well, I was correct about there being withheld results, but not about them being bad for the SNP - in fact they're so wonderful for the SNP that the Sunday Times have seemingly given them only the most cursory of mentions.

Scottish voting intentions for Westminster (Panelbase) :

SNP 41% (+4)
Conservatives 27% (-2)
Labour 24% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Greens 2% (+2)

This is the first full-scale Scottish poll of Westminster voting intentions from Panelbase or any other firm since the general election, so the percentage changes listed above are from the actual election result, rather than from a previous poll.  I know some people will look at the numbers and think "this looks very similar to the pre-election polls that overestimated the SNP by a few points, so the SNP are probably being overestimated again", but of course this poll has been weighted by recalled 2017 election vote, which should have resolved any skew.

If the poll is right, it genuinely looks as if quite a few voters who switched to the Tories or Labour in June have since come home to the SNP.  One of the things that made the election in Scotland so unusual was the large number of seats that were won by knife-edge margins - some of them broke for the SNP (including, remarkably, all four that were decided by fewer than 100 votes), but plenty of others didn't.  Labour's six gains are now marginal seats, and most of them are ultra-marginals.  Based on the Panelbase numbers, the SNP could expect to regain all of those six seats, with only the extreme oddity of Edinburgh South remaining firmly out of reach.  There would also be modest gains from the Tories (Stirling would fall on the tiniest of swings).

In other words, the doom and gloom of the summer is now over.  The SNP can stop fearing an early election, and can perhaps even start thinking of it as a golden opportunity to gain seats - although admittedly none of us need any reminding of how suddenly the political weather can change these days.  One thing is for sure - if these numbers are spotted in the corridors of power in London, it'll put an end to the Tories' silly notion that they can expect the SNP to abstain on a no confidence vote.

Does all of this mean that the picture painted by Scottish subsamples of GB-wide polls since June (basically that the SNP only had a very narrow lead, and that Labour had surged into a strong second place) was totally meaningless?  As this poll has taken me by complete surprise, I suppose I should have the humility to say "possibly", but the flip-side of the coin is "not necessarily".  We only have one full-scale Westminster poll to go on at the moment, and it may yet turn out that a 14-point lead for the SNP is 'on the high side'.  I wonder if question sequence may have played a part - if Panelbase asked about independence and Scottish Parliament voting intentions first, respondents may have been more likely to stick with the SNP when subsequently asked about Westminster.  But there may also be a way of reconciling this poll with the subsamples.  YouGov are the only firm who seemingly weight their Scottish subsamples separately - and they suggested in their first few post-election subsamples that there was a tight race between SNP and Labour.  More recently, they've shown the SNP with a bigger lead.  That could be an illusion caused by the enormous margin of error, but it's just possible there was a Corbyn surge for Labour in the summer that has since subsided as memories of the election have grown more distant.  There's no getting away from it, though - to see Labour in third place, and a whopping 17 points behind the SNP, is undoubtedly a big shock.

34 comments:

  1. I had a squint at the print version of the ST this morning and thought that the 39% expecting more powers to come to Holyrood as a result of Brexit was a fairly significant figure. Go after these people and patch up the differences with Yes - Leavers by backing EFTA and there's your majority for Indy.

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  2. Replies
    1. That's a lovely thought, can you elaborate a bit on that?

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  3. That is three polls in a row that have the SNP back up in the 40s. A combination of things perhaps. Ruth has not had far to look for her problems and the cognitive dissonance over Brexit makes it hard to take her seriously. Labour? Who knows where they are going but the notion that Anas is Corbynite does make me smile.

    So all in, after a slightly bumpy year, Nicola must be looking forward to the coming political session. Brexit can only get sillier and the options starker.

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  4. So the SNP and the Tories are 1% lower on the Holyrood poll and Labour are 2% higher. Appears that there's as many Conservative Holyrood; Labour Westminster voters now as SNP-Labour.

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  5. No prizes for guessing which of our regular posters made the following prediction on here less than a month ago:

    "Subsamples are showing a convergence between SNP and Labour, with the Tories not far behind. History tells us this will probably be confirmed by the next proper poll that comes along."

    "There have been no earth shattering changes in the way polling is conducted so it is reasonable to assume, based on current trends, that the next Scottish poll will show Labour and SNP level pegging."

    Chortling aside, in some ways it's a bit disappointing. A three-way national contest would've been unprecedented in Scottish politics. Now it seems we're pretty much where we were before, with the only real contest being for second place.

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  6. Let's leave the 3 (or more) way contests until after Indy. For now we need the SNP to be roaring ahead

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  7. Of course what the SNP lost was because a lot of former SNP voters sat on their hands after their craven 'don't mention Independence' campaign in the face of the NO REFERENDUM parties. I voted SNP pretty much because there was nobody else Yes standing and I actually voted for Stuart Hosie rather than the SNP but I was utterly underwhelmed by their campaign and being too craven to mention independence. Which cravenness is still going with signals being sent of not expecting a referendum until AFTER the Brexit has happened.

    We have the European Parliament looking at parking our membership while we absolutely complete the Acquis after Independence Day and lots of EU leaders and politicians saying we would be welcome etc. We are going to throw that all away, throw our big Remain vote away for EFTA membership now.

    Sod that.

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  8. Scotland will be given Agriculture and Fisheries after brexit. Will the Nat sis campaign to give them back to the EU? If so is that independence?

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    1. Within the EU, the decision to cede or repatriate those powers would be Scotland's alone.

      Within the UK, the decision to "grant" or "take back" those powers are Westminster's alone with Scotland having no say.

      So yes, it is independence in the 21st century. As opposed to being smothered in an increasingly 19th/18th century UK.

      Me Bungo Pony

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    2. My pal Gove said we would get loads and loads of packets of smarties and I love him

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    3. Bungo Pony, better than living in the twelfth century.

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  9. There are polls and there are real world election results - and a divergence between the two has emerged in Scotland since the Holyrood vote last year. The polls say the SNP is roaring ahead but real elections see them in decline and getting pushed back. The polls don't matter, the real world elections do.

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    1. Yes, you are right in your assertion that it is election results that matter, not polls.

      However, your subsequent claim about SNP performance is, at best, unreliable. In the recent past, polls have under estimated the SNP vote. Such as the 2011 Holyrood election when Labour were measuring the curtains in Bute House only to lose heavily in the actual vote.

      You are making the mistake of assuming the future will always mirror the past.

      Me Bungo Pony

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    2. Holyrood 2016, the 2017 local elections and the 2017 General Election all saw the SNP being pushed back, despite polling that suggested they would do much better. We should have a majority SNP government by now, 45 to 55 SNP MPs and Glasgow City Council should be under single party SNP control. None of it happened. Instead we had repeated failures of polling that failed to improve the next time out even with the knowledge of the previous failure. So why should we assume that this poll is accurate?

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    3. I never said you should assume its accurate. Nothing you've said disproves any of my post. Maybe the poll over-estimates SNP support, but, then again, maybe it doesn't. We just don't know.

      Me Bungo Pony

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    4. Overestimation of SNP support is more likely than not based on recent trends and also the fact that no important political events have happened in the last few months to drive an SNP surge.

      In 2011, the polls detected an upwards swing in SNP support towards the end of the campaign. They didn't underestimate SNP support, they recorded a change in public opinion in favour of the SNP.

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    5. I would disagree that there have been no important political events. The continued chaos of the UK Conservative Party handling of Brexit, internal divisions within the Conservatives (not to mention Ruth's problem with racist wingnuts), Kezia's resignation and confusion as to where Labour are heading next will all have had an impact.

      However with no planned elections for 4 years it is perhaps all academic at this stage. A lot can happen in 4 years.

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    6. As pointed out in the blogpost, overestimation of the SNP is not "more likely than not", because weighting by 2017 recalled vote has been introduced, which should correct for the error in the election this year.

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    7. "Should" correct for it, yes. But there was presumably a similar correction after the Holyrood election but the polls were still out in the two elections held this year. One local council poll had the SNP way up at around 47-49%. I think they ended up on 32%. Then a month later the polls failed to accurately predict the GE. That's fail, fail and then fail. I suppose by the law of averages they need to get it right at some point.

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    8. "One local council poll..." How many local council polls were there? I can only think of a couple. Even at the time it was obvious they were wrong (and I said so) because they didn't take account of independent candidates. If there's any equivalent problem in this poll, it's the 2% for the Greens (so if anything the SNP may be a smidgeon too low).

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    9. Both polls have an SNP recall of more than 42% which is way above the 37% that actually polled on June 8th.

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    10. So what? That's what weighting is there for.

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  10. It's exactly 3 years since the big day. Where were you on 18th September 2014?

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  11. I was in the house on 18 September 2014 and went tae bed early knowing it would be a glorious victory for the Union. Next day I went tae George Sq tae celebrate but the Square was occupied by sad disgruntled nas si fash who were intent in causing trouble knowing Unionists would be descending on the Square to celebrate. They got their trouble!

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    Replies
    1. I'm doing the corbyn bouncy bouncy WATP FTP GSTQ

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  12. James, surprised you allow the GWC2 impersonator to make sectarian comments. FTP is clearly recognised as sectarian...Not that I care but it is your blog.

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  13. I'm worried the less astute of your Nat sis Bhoys might think its me being a bigot.

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    1. You should worry about yourself impersonator.. .perhaps you could explain why you impersonate...?

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    2. Nat sis cowards Nickerless should call the referendum now

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    3. I agree with that impersonator but what goes on in your mind that you have to impersonate...Are you a nat zii coward? You seem to be on the ball everytime I post...Wash your jammy bottoms.

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    4. Im a short fat balding englishman like you

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  14. Presumably one or more of the GWC2s are different but I have no idea which is which any more /\(Oo)/\...

    ....or it is all the same person having a glorious melt down.

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