Wednesday, May 6, 2015

SNP seize record-breaking 22% lead in mesmerising pre-election Panelbase poll

You might remember that we heard from a couple of people at the weekend that a full-scale Scottish poll from Panelbase was underway.  I wondered if it might be an internal poll for the SNP, in which case there was a chance the results would never see the light of day.  Thankfully, it turns out to have been commissioned by Wings Over Scotland.  It's hugely valuable, because unless we get another surprise poll later today, this is our only opportunity to see what impact on public opinion (if any) there was from the revelation last Thursday night that Miliband might be prepared to help Cameron stay in power in some circumstances.  Panelbase's fieldwork started on Friday, and concluded only today.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election (Panelbase, 1st-6th May) :

SNP 48% (n/c)
Labour 26% (-1)
Conservatives 14% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 5% (+1)
UKIP 3% (n/c)
Greens 2 (n/c)

It looks as if there has been little or no change as a result of the events of Thursday.  The 1% increase in the SNP lead is obviously well within the margin of error, although it's enough to break yet another record.  As I used to say during the referendum campaign, even the smallest of changes is potentially of interest if it takes a pollster outside its previous 'normal range'.  However, this result is fully consistent with the trend we saw from YouGov at the weekend - the most plausible narrative is that there was a second telling SNP surge a few weeks ago, and that the position has remained relatively stable since then.

Although there may be no disagreement between pollsters over the trend, what we don't have is agreement on the extent of the SNP's lead.  Believe it or not, Panelbase remain the most Labour-friendly of all the pollsters that have been active in this campaign (with the exception of ICM, who haven't reported for quite a while).  The 22 point lead in this poll is well short of the 32-34 point leads reported most recently by the two most SNP-friendly firms, TNS and Ipsos-Mori.  The divergence we're seeing between the firms is considerably bigger than anything that is going on at Britain-wide level - if that wasn't the case, we might be going to bed tonight not having a clue whether to expect a Conservative majority government, a Labour majority government or a hung parliament.

Given that even the Panelbase result is projected to give the SNP no fewer than 53 seats out of 59, does it even matter which firm is closest to the truth?  Of course it does.  There could be a very late swing back to Labour.  There could be very heavy tactical voting.  There could be a 1992-style (or Israeli-style) polling disaster in which all firms turn out to have overestimated one party, and underestimated another.  If any of these things are true, the SNP could end up winning significantly fewer seats if Panelbase is nearest the mark.  But if Ipsos-Mori turns out to be the best performer, the SNP are already so far out of sight that the result is effectively assured.


  1. I do enjoy these polls but Ashcroft style constituency polls make so much more sense. I wish other companies did them regularly so we could get a clearer idea of where we stand.

  2. In D, C & T, I received a personally-addressed letter from David Mundell, headed "IT'S ME OR THE SNP - MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT."

    He says it's going to be close, He realises nothing entitles or guarantees him to win. It mentions his hard work as a constituency MP (which is true) and his absolute commitment to keeping Scotland in the Union (which is also true). He says an SNP MP would not represent local people's views on the future of our country. "Say No thanks to separation and another referendum." (this last sentence in bold). He asks me not to "assume he will be re-elected anyway. The polls say otherwise."

    In an appeal for tactical votes, he continues: "That's why lots of people who haven't voted for me in the past are doing so this time."

    Sadly for Mr Mundell, everything he says just reinforces my intention to go out this evening and work for Emma Harper's election.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. To be honest I think everyone is fed up with election lies, spin and polls. There WAS a surge for the SNP a few weeks ago and I don't think anything Milliband, Murphy or other Labour say now, is going to be believed, or will have any effect on voting intentions.

    It now depends on voting in individual seats and it will be very interesting to see how these national percentages pan out and who will be in and who will be out after Thursday.

  5. During the referendum campaign, the legend that is Councillor Terry Kelly used to claim that Panelbase was not a serious pollster. Hope he's right.

  6. Slightly worrying that the Ipsos Mori director appears to be getting his excuses in early in a blog for STV.

    I would have thought the online pollsters, particularly the ones that weight by referendum recall, will be closer to the result than Mori. There's no reason for there to be false recall in respect of the referendum, given that it was such a major event and very recent. Mori just trust that the response rates between different political affiliations are the same. Scotland now appears to be an example where this is not the case. Weighting by referendum recall addresses this point.

    The main other thing that could count against the SNP (as Diffley points out) is that it disproportionately draws support from younger people. If they don't turn out, despite saying they will, then that will knock the SNP down a bit. This applies to all of the polls.

    I think it's healthier to assume this will happen, rather than building up unrealistic hopes of a total wipeout. As I have pointed out before, Blair's Labour regularly polled above 50% but then "only" got 44% on the day. Nobody cared because they still won a massive majority. The worst thing that the SNP (and its supporters) could do now would be to allow Labour to spin losing (say) 30 seats out of 41 as some sort of "triumph".

    1. James : True, although throughout this campaign I've always taken the view that trying to downplay expectations was completely misguided, because the SNP need to fight for every bit of attention in a Westminster campaign, and the way to do it was to talk expectations up. They've only now reached the point where they can forget about attracting attention, and concentrate on managing expectations.

    2. To James
      C'mon?! There is no way ANY spin could make "losing (say) 30 seats out of 41 as some sort of "triumph". And do you think SNP supporters are stupid? LAB will not be allowed even a sniff of hope. We have Holyrood next year. Anyway LAB will be too busy infighting in Scotland to do anything.

  7. Panelbase tables:

    Kind of bears out what I was talking about above re: younger voters. The SNP comfortably with all age ranges, but the bigger leads are with the younger groups. This means that the overall figures would be dragged down if they do not turnout as much as they say they will.

    1. Men 18-34: SNP 53, Lab 22, Con 9
      Women 18-34: SNP 48, Lab 28, Con 9
      Men 35-54: SNP 52, Lab 27, Con 10
      Women 35-54: SNP 48, Lab 30, Con 13
      Men 55+: SNP 45, Lab 28, Con 18
      Women 55+: SNP 42, Lab 23, Con 23

      Also, professionals are more likely to vote than working class people.

      ABC1s: SNP 39, Lab 26, Con 20
      C2DEs: SNP 55, Lab 26, Con 9

      This poll (like other online polls in campaign) are filtered by how likely people say they are to vote, but the problem arises if people exaggerate that likelihood. This often occurs in landslide scenarios: people think their preferred side is going to win anyway. This point may not be so important in the case of the SNP because of the current enthusiasm, but relative turnout is an issue to watch.

  8. There is now so much soul searching I've decided the time has come for the cards to fall how they may.
    I understand that the votes for quite a few Labour MPs are very large and difficult to overcome but if people have insufficient will for changing their circumstances then they are either happy with them or they are where they are and must live with the consequences.
    I hope the polls are true but if not, despite the excellent information and analysis on this page, they can be discounted in any future elections and we can all have some better nights of sleep.

    1. We'll never get to the point where the polls can be discounted. Even if this is one of the rare occasions when they're miles away from the final outcome, methodology will be refined to ensure better accuracy next time around.

  9. All that is left is for the SNP to make sure they get their vote out tomorrow.

    1. indeed, hope cars, loudhailers, babysitters,pet- sitters and whatever else is needed to get voters to the polling station - are all ready to go!!!

    2. Then be sure to go out and help!

  10. Just to manage expectations, what is the lowest amount of seats the SNP could win tomorrow? Are we talking 25?

  11. The lowest amount would be 0 ;-)

  12. If the SNP wins less than 40 seats tomorrow I will be sad and a little confused, but that will still be a truly remarkable turnaround from 2010. We need to bear that in mind. Labour is in terminal decline and they don't have the capacity or self-awareness sufficient for change.