What seemed like the endless wait for the first opinion poll to include Alba as an option is now over, but what most certainly isn't over - despite what the Courier would like you to believe in their spin on the Survation poll they've commissioned - is Alex Salmond's hopes of winning seats in this election.
Scottish Parliament constituency ballot voting intentions (Survation / Courier):
SNP: 49% (-1)
Conservatives: 21% (-)
Labour 20% (-)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+1)
Scottish Parliament regional list ballot voting intentions:
SNP 37% (-2)
Labour 19% (-1)
Conservatives 18% (-1)
Greens 11% (-)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)
Alba 3% (+3)
Scottish Skier and I had an exchange the other day about the sort of level at which Alba might poll if they were below 5%. I said 3-4% was realistic, but Scottish Skier thought 0-1% was just as likely. Well, if I may say so, I've been proved right, at least in the first poll. 3% puts the party in contention for seats - although 5-6% is required to win a seat, remember that's in each individual region, so if support varies across the country, a 3% national vote could be enough for one or two seats overall. It's probably reasonable to assume that Mr Salmond himself is the candidate most likely to be elected.
Nevertheless, the danger of falling between two stools is clearly there, ie. Alba taking votes from other pro-indy parties without winning many seats itself. It's unlikely that Alba's passionate converts will go back to the SNP, so if Alba votes aren't going to be wasted (thus potentially harming the independence cause), the challenge for the party's supporters is to double the current level of support, and then we could potentially be looking at eight seats, rather than wondering if it'll be zero or one or two.
Although Survation tend to report lower SNP list vote shares than other firms (and higher Green vote shares), 37% is the lowest they've reported for two years. That would suggest, as you'd expect, that most of Alba's 3% support has come direct from the SNP.
I think I can reasonably claim vindication from this poll in another sense as well - I've been saying for years that Alex Salmond is the one and only person who has a chance of making a list-only pro-indy party work, and these numbers bear witness to that. If even Mr Salmond can only manage 3% in the first poll, it's highly likely that a Wings party, or ISP, or AFI, wouldn't be troubling the scorer at this stage.
As for the Courier's hysterical spin of "it's all over for Alex Salmond", the last time I checked the paper was edited by David Clegg of "The Vow" fame, who clearly has 'issues' with Mr Salmond dating back many years. So not only is the reporting clueless from a psephological point of view, there are also many other reasons to take it with a hefty dose of salt.
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You can catch up with Episode 5 of the Scot Goes Popcast, with special guest Len Pennie (Miss PunnyPennie) HERE.
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