I'd say a good rule of thumb is not to pronounce a new political party "dead on arrival" until at least the second poll. It was never the case that Alba's 3% showing in the Survation poll a few days ago put it out of contention for seats, but tonight's Panelbase poll shows a radically different picture.
Scottish Parliament constituency ballot voting intentions (Panelbase / Sunday Times):
SNP 49% (+2)
Conservatives 22% (-1)
Labour 20% (-)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Greens 2% (-)
Scottish Parliament regional list ballot voting intentions:
SNP 39% (-3)
Conservatives 21% (-1)
Labour 17% (-2)
Greens 8% (+2)
Alba 6% (+6)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-2)
All for Unity 4% (+4)
Seats projection (with changes from 2016 election): SNP 65 (+2), Conservatives 24 (-7), Labour 20 (-4), Greens 8 (+2), Alba 6 (+6), Liberal Democrats 5 (-), All for Unity 1 (+1)
SNP: 65 seats
All others: 64 seats
SNP OVERALL MAJORITY OF 1 SEAT
Pro-independence parties: 79 seats (61.2%)
Anti-independence parties: 50 seats (38.8%)
PRO-INDEPENDENCE MAJORITY OF 29 SEATS
So many of the claims made over the last few days now look highly questionable. It was said that there would be no pressure from the polls for the broadcasters to consider the case for Alba to included in the TV election debates - well, here we have a poll showing Alba ahead of the Liberal Democrats in terms of both votes and seats. If Alex Salmond isn't going to be in the debates, what's Willie Rennie doing there? It was said that Alba couldn't possibly contribute to a pro-independence supermajority, and that the Greens were the only game in town if voters wanted to achieve that outcome - well, here we have a poll showing both Alba and the Greens making a major contribution to a supermajority.
Are there any health warnings that need to be put on these numbers? As Scottish Skier will doubtless point out, it seems that Panelbase took the unusual step of putting the words "led by Alex Salmond" in brackets next to Alba's name. It could be argued that may have led to an overstatement of support, but the flipside of the coin is that there could have been an understatement of support if it hadn't been done, because voters may not be familiar with the Alba name yet - but hopefully will be by the time of the election.
Another possibility is that Alba may be enjoying a honeymoon spell following its launch, and that its support will fade before polling day. It's also conceivable that the hysterical "it's all over for Salmond" reporting of the Survation poll may have put off potential Alba supporters and that the Panelbase poll hasn't picked that up because of its fieldwork dates. So, yes, there are all sorts of reasons for being cautious - but the bottom line is that Alba are now in the mix, and for the time being the prospect of them gaining several seats needs to be taken very seriously.
My gut instinct is to be a bit sceptical about the finding that George Galloway will take a seat for All for Unity. The assumption until now has been that all Galloway would do is take votes away from the serious unionist players without getting close to actually winning a seat - and to be honest that's still how I expect it to play out. However, we can't have it both ways - if we're going to take Alba's numbers in the Panelbase poll seriously, we have to do the same for All for Unity's numbers. So perhaps Alex Salmond and George Galloway will be sparring in Holyrood debates before too long - just like old times in the House of Commons.
Should Scotland be an independent country? (Panelbase / Sunday Times)
Yes 51% (+1)
No 49% (-1)
So Yes are back in the lead with Panelbase, and across all firms this is also the fourth poll in a row to show a Yes lead of some description. It's starting to look like there may been a small but genuine bounceback in Yes support after the dip in the early part of the year. The poll apparently also shows that 54% of respondents want a second independence referendum to be held within the next five years (ie. within the term of the Holyrood parliament that's about to be elected).