Just for once we have an STV by-election result where the classification of "hold" is not misleading - the Tories were defending the Inverurie seat, and also comfortably won the popular vote in the ward in May.
Inverurie & District by-election result (12th October):
Conservatives 48.5% (+12.6)
SNP 33.3% (+5.7)
Liberal Democrats 8.6% (-3.2)
Labour 8.0% (+3.7)
Greens 1.6% (n/a)
What does make interpretation of the result difficult is that the independent candidate Judy Whyte received more than 20% of the votes in May, which were all up for grabs this time. If those voters were predominantly unionist or small 'c' conservative in character, it may not be any great surprise that the Tories have grabbed the lion's share of them. Certainly there was nothing inevitable about the substantial increase in the SNP's own vote (Labour's vote didn't go up by as much and the Lib Dems actually contrived to go backwards), so we're entitled to take heart from that. And, as always, we have to remember that Tory supporters are traditionally more likely to make it to the polls in a low turnout local by-election than supporters of other parties.
Incidentally, since my last update there have been three new Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls, and all of them have shown an SNP lead (albeit a wafer-thin one in the case of today's YouGov poll). The SNP were also ahead in a BMG subsample from September which was published belatedly. That means there have now been thirteen subsamples in a row putting the SNP in front, underscoring the apparent change in the political weather since the summer.
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Have you joined Scot Goes Pop's new Facebook discussion group yet? It's called Scottish Independence Required By Next Tuesday, and it's already attracted several hundred members in its first week. You can join HERE.