It looks like Rolfe's informant at the street stall the other day was bang on the money - just as he suggested, the start of the week has seen the publication of a poll showing the SNP vote rising by another two points. What we couldn't have dared hope for, though, was that it would turn out to be a poll from TNS - which prior to today had already been the joint most favourable firm for the SNP, alongside Ipsos-Mori. They now claim that mantle all for themselves.
Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election (TNS, 1st-19th April) :
SNP 54% (+2)
Labour 22% (-2)
Conservatives 13% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
Greens 2% (-1)
UKIP 2% (+1)
The 32% lead is comfortably the biggest that the SNP have enjoyed in any poll since the referendum - the previous record was 29% in the famous October poll from Ipsos-Mori that first alerted us to the new political reality. What makes this even more extraordinary is that the new high watermark has been recorded by a firm that just a few weeks ago looked relatively Labour-friendly. The 16% gap that TNS reported in their first poll of 2015 was very much at the lower end of the scale, but has now doubled.
And can it be entirely a coincidence that the only two firms that have so far shown the SNP on the right side of 50% are also the only two that use a real world methodology, ie. with no reliance on a volunteer online polling panel? You might remember the absurdly ill-informed article from ex-ICM man Nick Sparrow a few months ago in which he bemoaned how the political obsessives in online panels were artificially generating momentum for the SNP. Even when he wrote that, Ipsos-Mori's telephone poll was already pointing to a bigger SNP lead than had been detected in any online poll. Now that the same is true of TNS' face-to-face polling, it looks if anything as if online panellists are proving to be a drag on the SNP's numbers in online polls. In other words, contrary to Sparrow's argument, the likes of YouGov and Panelbase could actually be artificially diluting the momentum behind the SNP (albeit not by much!).