Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Surveying the Survation survey that's seen splendid SNP storm to stupendous 56%

Apologies for the delay, which was partly due to the Mail doing the tedious (and fruitless) #buyapaper routine, and partly due to me having a nap. Here are the numbers from today's bumper Survation poll -

Scottish Parliament constituency vote :

SNP 56% (+2)
Labour 20% (-4)
Conservatives 14% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+2)

Scottish Parliament regional list vote :

SNP 45% (+1)
Labour 19% (-2)
Conservatives 12% (+1)
Greens 11% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+2)
UKIP 5% (n/c)

The percentage changes are from the last Holyrood poll conducted by Survation - but that was before the general election, so the methodology has changed since then (to introduce weighting by recalled 2015 vote).  Although on the face of it the increase in the SNP vote is within the margin of error and therefore not statistically significant, the last poll was unusually good for the SNP as well, so there is very little room for doubt that the position has strengthened over a period of months.  The only question is whether it has strengthened still further since May.  When you take this poll in combination with the extraordinary TNS poll a few weeks ago, the most likely answer is 'yes'.

Again, we have the familiar pattern of the SNP vote dropping off sharply on the all-important regional list vote.  That wouldn't harm the party on the current figures, but of course the likelihood is that they're in a honeymoon spell at the moment, and that support will slip back by next year.  If, by then, the SNP vote on the two ballots is not 56% and 45%, but 45% and 36%, Nicola Sturgeon will fall well short of an overall majority.  So unfortunately, what's happening on the list is potentially a very real problem.

Survation have tended to be one of the more Green-friendly pollsters.  The 11% Green vote should therefore be treated with caution - if it's accurate, it would certainly point to the possibility of a meaningful breakthrough in terms of seats, but on the other hand it offers no support for the far-fetched claims that Patrick Harvie could somehow become leader of the official opposition.

Westminster :

SNP 51%
Labour 21%
Conservatives 17%
Liberal Democrats 7%

As we now have weighting by 2015 vote, these numbers imply real changes from the outcome in May.  A 1% increase for the SNP is not statistically significant, but a further 3% drop for Labour looks somewhat more interesting.  Unless Survation have come up with a freakishly anti-Labour sample, Kezia Dugdale clearly has it all do to get her party back into the game, in both parliaments.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 48.2%
No 51.8%

This is very much within the range of results that Survation have produced since the referendum - mostly there has been a very slender No lead, but there has also been one Yes lead and one tie.  The fluctuation could well just be margin of error noise, and we've seen much the same thing from other polling firms.  The most plausible interpretation is that there was a modest jump in the Yes vote immediately after the referendum (probably caused by buyer's remorse among a small number of No voters after they realised The Vow was a con), and that the position has remained reasonably stable since then.

As always, it's important to stress that we can be confident that the Yes vote is genuinely higher than it was on polling day, because weighting by recalled referendum vote is now in place.  Almost 5% of No voters from September have switched to Yes, compared to 2.4% of Yes voters who have switched to No.  There are also significantly more people who have switched from No to Don't Know.

If there was to be another referendum on Scottish independence when, if at all, do you think this referendum should take place?

Within 10 years?

Yes 60%
No 40%

This is the answer that respondents have been consistently giving over recent months.  They oppose a referendum within the next five years by a 59-41 margin, so clearly the centre of gravity is that Indyref 2 should take place at some point between 2020 and 2025.

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union? (respondents in Scotland only) :

Yes 66%
No 34%

An impressive margin for Yes given that this was an online poll (the online method tends to favour No), but the fieldwork took place between the 3rd and 7th of July - well before the "waterboarding" of Greece.


  1. Is there anything in the datasets to suggest support for independence could be marginally higher than the headline figures suggest?

    1. Seeing as you've asked that question, I'll update the results with the numbers to one decimal point! Survation make it easy by doing that anyway.

  2. I'm thinking I might tactically vote Tory just for the hilarity of seeing Labour come third.

    1. With this level of support in the constituency polling it raises an interesting question about tactical voting. On these figures the SNP win every constituency except Shetland (Lib Dem), Ettrick etc (Con) and Eastwood which the Tories would take off Labour[1].

      Input the latest Survation figures into Scotland Votes and you get the following seats:

      SNP 71 (+2)

      Lab 24 (-13)

      Con 14 (-1)

      Lib Dem 7 (+2)

      Green 12 (+10)

      UKIP 1 (+1)

      (changes on 2011)

      With the Greens being the big gainers. Now as already has been remarked by others (including John Curtice) this may be due to a misunderstanding about the 'second vote' and SNP constituency voters (59% of the Green regional vote) might actually vote for them regionally as well. If you take 5 points off the Greens and give it to the SNP (so SNP 49.6%, Green 5.6%), the Greens lose 7 of their seats but the SNP only get 4 of them - Con get 1 and Lab 2.

      But if you do the opposite, giving the SNP 39.6% and the Greens 15.6%, the Greens get an extra six seats to take them to 18. Only one comes from the SNP - the only regional seat they get on this poll. Four come from Labour and one the Lib Dems. Move another 3 point across and the Greens equal Labour

      So if the SNP get this sort of constituency vote next year, SNP voters picking Green for their regional vote may be a cunning way to depress the Holyrood representation of the unionist parties.

      [1] In both these latter seats the SNP actually got the largest percentage of regional votes in 2011, presumably the MSPs being elected because of personal or tactical voting. Even in Shetland the SNP were only 300 behind the Lib Dems. So a clean sweep is entirely possible, I certainly would expect Eastwood to go SNP.

    2. Oh, don't you start, Roger. I'll be generous and assume you've missed the seventeen billion posts on the "tactical voting" issue!

    3. I thought that might rouse you :). But the point is that once you get to this sort of level of support in the constituency polling, all sorts of counter-intuitive consequences arise.

      At one stage Italy used a similar mixed member system and some groups (notably Berlusconi's) set up dummy Parties to run on the lists that meant they could clean up on those as well.

    4. It can work (emphasis on *can*) if it's all planned out in that way. But the SNP aren't going to back a Green (or SSP or Solidarity) vote on the list, and they would incur the wrath of the Electoral Commission if they tried to cheat like that.

    5. I don't really buy the tactical voting argument as I don't really see the SNP and the Greens as being that similar. In fact with Labour in the mess they are this is arguably an election about whether you want an SNP majority or an SNP/Green coalition and I'd far rather have the latter.

    6. Oh I wasn't advocating it. Legally I wonder how much the EC could do (actually I wonder how much they can do about anything), but it would risk annoying the voters who understood it and confusing those who didn't. In the end individuals will make the decision.

      One interesting thing is how little support the smaller Parties other than the standard six are getting. Survation only found three people in total who went for another option (0.34%). Compare this with 2003 when over 15% supported such options.

    7. As James has pointed out many times before, it is a big risk, but for me there is one specific circumstance where the Green vote advocates make sense. This is the tipping point where the Greens regularly poll more than, at minimum, the Conservatives, AND the SNP are so far ahead in constituency vote it seems likely they will take them all - AND this is repeated across several polls and several months in the lead up to next May...

    8. It's only a big risk if you perceive the SNP and the Greens to be on the same level in the first instance. I would far prefer an SNP led government to a Labour one, but I'm struggling to see any possible scenario in which Labour are going to get into power. The SNP have a 36% lead in the constituency vote - that isn't a contest, the battle is already won.

      The real question is what type of government you want in 2016. Do you want more of the same with an SNP majority, or one that will actually implement real progressive policies? If the SNP is relying on the Greens for a majority, even by a very small margin, then countless things that seem impossible now become doable: breaking our reliance on fossil fuels, taking inequality seriously, ending the ridiculous pro-landlord approach to housing we have in Scotland, ending privatisation in the NHS, moving toward sustainability rather than consumption led growth, etc. That should be the dream, not merely tactical voting to keep a crippled Labour party out - and the "risk" of Labour performing some kind of miracle and getting into power really shouldn't be deterring anyone who really believes in progressive politics.

    9. If you prefer that to a second independence referendum, go right ahead.

    10. Why are we less likely to get a second independence referendum with a Green/SNP coalition?

      It's almost a certainty that the SNP aren't going to put a second referendum in their manifesto for 2016. It's possible a referendum could still happen in the next parliament if there's a Brexit, but that remains extremely unlikely. Even if it did happen the Greens being in coalition wouldn't prevent it as they'd vote for another referendum in those circumstances as well.

  3. The really interesting voters for me are the ones who are backing the SNP in elections but don't support independence. While it's not an exact science, if you were to compare the 56% backing the SNP in the constituency vote and the 48% backing independence, you're talking about somewhere around 14% of those saying they'll vote SNP also saying they'd vote No in an independence referendum. That's assuming every Lib Dem/Labour voter opposes independence, which probably isn't true in reality, so it could be more than that.

    Now don't knows could be skewing the exact figures and you can't take that as given, but clearly there is a small but significant portion of the electorate who are willing to back the SNP despite opposing independence (for whatever reason).

    1. Actually we do know the percentages from the Survation tables. Of the 519 people who intend to vote SNP in their constituency next year:

      Yes 77.7%[1]

      No 11.6%

      Undecided 9.7%

      Rather not say 1.0%

      Interestingly the Undecideds are higher than for any other Party's supporters.

      [1] As James likes his decimal places even though they are meaningless.

    2. Pah. You could just as easily argue whole numbers are meaningless within the margin of error.

    3. "clearly there is a small but significant portion of the electorate who are willing to back the SNP despite opposing independence (for whatever reason)."

      Devo Max?

  4. I think a few voters when asked how they intend to vote in a constituency and then the list may think the list is an alternative vote. I for one would like the second list vote scrapped and all parties should contest the constituencies. The make up of list MP's be made from the percentage of vote the parties attract in the constituencies that make up a particular region. Perhaps full STV also.

    1. It's an option, but it might tend to depress support for smaller parties seen as not having a chance in the constituency. Also, I don't think it would allow for independents like Dennis Canavan or Margo to be elected.

    2. I don't like full STV because of the level of shenanigans it more or less mandates. The question of how many candidates to stand becomes crucial. Stand too many and you might split your own vote and get neither in. Stand too few and you may not get the number of seats your level of electoral support should entitle you to.

      By-elections are also a problem. If a party which came relatively far down the popularity stakes loses its representative, it's scuppered, because it won't have a hope in hell of winning the subsequent by-election under AV.

      I'd much rather have a d'Hondt system, although I agree it might benefit from modification.

    3. I don't genuinely think it's that confusing given we've had several elections using this format now, but if we are going to alter it then it should be scrapping the constituency vote and moving to an open list system on a national basis (as the Netherlands has). It's simple and it produces proportional results that reflect what people actually voted for.

      At the moment we seem to prioritise the "local representative" principle over proportionality and I think that's a very odd perspective given the way modern politics actually functions.

  5. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 14, 2015 at 10:16 PM

    James. Your blog is rather confusing. Is your intention for progressive policies to enhance the lives of the working classes or just petty isolation Scottish nationalism or maybe the progressive landing on Pluto. Or maybe you think you are alreadg on Pluto!

    1. "Is your intention for progressive policies to enhance the lives of the working classes"

      Yes, and also the lives of people from other classes.

      "or just petty isolation Scottish nationalism"

      No, I'm opposed to petty isolationist nationalism, of both the British and Scottish varieties. I'm in favour of open, tolerant, civic Scottish nationalism.

      "or maybe the progressive landing on Pluto. Or maybe you think you are alreadg on Pluto!"

      This is clearly going to come as a shock to you, but I have no interest at all in Pluto.

      Hope that's cleared up any "confusion", old chap.

    2. James, delete it. For all our sakes.

    3. Firstly, it's a fly by. No landing on Pluto is possible for that probe.

      So you are easily confused by simple things.

      Secondly, you are a troll and James really ought to delete you. But he won't because he believes in an open comments policy.

      So keep on writing drivel and hiding behind a pseudonym, People will only read your posts for the amusement of a fart against thunder.

      Best wishes.

    4. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 9:58 PM

      Rolfe, Douglas and James you sound like a middle class sixties choirboys group.

    5. Sad to see Labour still so hung up on class. Blair must be weeping into his soup.

    6. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 10:54 PM

      I seem to recall that the SNP claim that Labour have lost their class values and the SNP have replaced them.!

  6. Imagine this. Imagine someone told you, 2 years ago, that we'd come within 5.3% of voting for independence, we'd have our media and our biggest businesses turn their guns on us, we will have an ongoing relentless SNP-bad angle from the BBC, more saccharine devolution bribes, *and* we will see Brent half to sub $60. And despite all that, a bawhair short of half the country will still say they would vote for independence.

    Dont forget how far we've come.

  7. Lets take your SNP lose 10% scenario further James. If the SNP did lose 10% on both votes the Greens and SNP could form a YES-coalition. If the Green vote halved and went to the SNP then the SNP would not be a majority AND couldn't form a coalition with the Greens. So actually the Greens would be the only thing keeping the SNP in government if the SNP did lose 10% of the vote and fewer Green MSPs would not be replaced by SNP ones but by Labour ones.

    I am amazed that instead of saying "The Greens will take 10 seats from Labour good for them" you say "If for no reason the SNP vote went down 10% then bad things would happen". Inventing numbers to stop yourself admiting that the Greens are totally harmless to the SNP (and under some scenarios, like your own, can be crucial to froming a Pro-YES government) isn't very scientific James.

    1. If Sturgeon loses the working majority won by Salmond, you can kiss goodbye to any hope of a second independence referendum in the next 20 years.

    2. Exactly what all these recent 'Green' posters want to happen.

    3. I think you may be right. One can only hope they don't snare too many unwary SNP supporters in their web of fake arithmetic.

  8. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 15, 2015 at 11:15 PM

    No confusion on my part James. You Nats are an enigma in your own minds. You wanted the euro then the GBP. You wanted out of NATO then you do not. You wanted rid of HMQ now you want her. You lot are lying to yourselves hoping no one will notice. You could have put employment rights into the Calmac franchise you refused. You could have nationalised the railway and buses you refused saying the EU would not allow it. Lies and damn lies. You claim you detest Tories but take money from arch Tory Souter. Little wonder you wil not nationalise the buses without compensation. Francis above wants
    you to ditch me. Not unexpected from a party founded by a Nazi lover. Notwithstanding
    this is the Fox all you have left to moan about. You will be exposed eventually you can fool the people some of the time.

    1. GWC you are a troll and an idiot

    2. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 8:24 PM

      And you are an Anonymous idiot so we have something in common. Not one complaint from the Nat carpetbaggers taking the 10k from the hard working taxpayer.

    3. "No confusion on my part James."

      So why in God's name did you say "James, your blog is slightly confusing"?

      Get it sorted, man.

    4. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 9:24 PM

      I do not know what you mean by gods name. Who is god. MAYBE Souter old chap! Your main Tory funder.

    5. So you don't want religious people voting for you, or the middle (or upper) class. This is a hell of a Big Tent.

    6. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 10:45 PM

      I asked what you meant by gods name. Simple question. Do you have a problem answering.?

    7. Not at all, old chap. From Wikipedia -

      "In monotheism and henotheism, God is conceived as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith.[1] The concept of God as described by theologians commonly includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, while in deism, God is the creator, but not the sustainer, of the universe."

      Hope that helps.

    8. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 11:49 PM

      So the truth comes from Wikipedia. Where did I go wrong in life! I vow to thee Wiki and the SNP.

    9. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 11:59 PM

      James. I do recall that religious people used to say that all men (leaving oot wummin) were created equally in the eyes of god. So dae ye think god wanted petty nationalism and division of his her creation. Sorry must have been a him!

  9. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 16, 2015 at 12:21 AM

    It is an historic experience listening to inept SNP MPs babbling on about absolutely nothing and doing nothing to enhance the conditions of the Working Classes in the UK while they take 60k plus into their bank accounts. Bunch of wasters who will no doubt end up pissed drunk in local Westminster Pubs.