Thursday, April 8, 2021

Optimal Opinium poll shows a pro-independence majority - and is the SEVENTH poll in a row to show Yes on 50% or higher

I'd been thinking over the last few days that we were strangely light on polls given how dramatic the recent events have been, but today has made up for that - we already have our second poll of the day, this time from Opinium.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Opinium / Sky News)

Yes 51% (-)
No 49% (-)

So no change from the last Opinium poll - but across all firms, this is the seventh poll in a row to show Yes on 50% or higher, and the sixth out of seven to show an outright Yes lead of some description.  It's arguably no longer really accurate to say that "the polls are broadly showing it's 50-50".  There's a case to be made that the general picture is now of a Yes lead, albeit a very slim one. 

Scottish Parliament constituency vote: 

SNP 53% (+7) 
Conservatives 21% (-3) 
Labour 18% (-2) 
Liberal Democrats 6% (-) 

Scottish Parliament regional list vote: 

SNP 44% (+2) 
Conservatives 22% (-) 
Labour 17% (-2) 
Greens 7% (-) 
Liberal Democrats 5% (-) 
Alba 2% (+2)

There have now been five polls which offered Alba as an option, and that makes it possible to offer a slightly more confident estimate of the party's support as it seeks to establish itself.  The median Alba vote share is 3%, and the mean average is 3.4%.  As mentioned in the previous post, that's the sort of level of support at which the Greens and the SSP won one seat apiece in the 1999 election.  So if things stay the same, we're falling between two stools - Alba aren't doing quite well enough to win a significant number of seats or to even be sure of winning any seats at all, but they are doing well enough that it would be ludicrous to pretend that they aren't in serious contention to win seats (even though a great many people are attempting precisely that pretence).  

As I've said a few times now, if people are concerned about Alba votes being wasted and thus indirectly helping the unionist side, one logical way of resolving the problem is to campaign hard and spread the word and do everything we can to make sure that Alba have reached at least 5% by polling day.  That option may be a lot more realistic than lecturing the existing Alba supporters about how they have to set aside all their misgivings over GRA reform, or the Hate Crime Bill, or the lack of progress towards an independence referendum, and obediently toddle back to the SNP on the list.  It's hard enough for those people to vote SNP even on the constituency ballot, but they're doing that for the specific reason that Alba have recommended it as part of a two-pronged strategy for securing an independence parliament.

The extremely good news from this poll is that the SNP's constituency vote has shot right up, and if by any chance they can maintain that sort of popularity, the question of wasted votes on the list may not even matter.  But as we saw in 2016, it's phenomenally hard for any party to maintain 50%+ support in the heat of a campaign - it's like gravity will always pull them back.

*  *  *

More details and analysis to follow.  You can also catch-up with Episode 6 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak to Alba Party leader Alex Salmond, HERE (with video) or HERE (audio only).

More signs of the Yes bounceback: support for independence is back up to 50% in new Savanta ComRes poll

The evidence continues to mount that there may have been a slight uptick in Yes support after the dip in the early part of the year.  The last poll in the regular Savanta ComRes series for the Scotsman showed a small No lead, but today's has Yes and No exactly level - regardless of whether Don't Knows are left in or stripped out.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 50% (+1)
No 50% (-1)

Incidentally, the last poll but one from the Scotsman series was the notorious #Matchettgate fake poll which purported to have Yes on 48% and No on 52%. That's the problem with pulling a stunt like that - all you succeed in doing is making the later polls look better for Yes.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 49% (+1)
Conservatives 23% (-)
Labour 18% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-2)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 40% (-)
Conservatives 21% (-3)
Labour 18% (-)
Greens 9% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)
Alba 3% (+3)

We've now had four Holyrood polls that included Alba as an option, and all four have shown the party registering on at least 3% - enough to put it in the mix for one or two seats as long as its support isn't spread too evenly across the country.  As I pointed out last night on Twitter, at the inaugural Scottish Parliament election in 1999, the Greens took one seat on 3.6% of the vote and the SSP took one seat on just 2% of the vote.  Official seats projections from polls will not show that sort of outcome for Alba because they will assume an even swing - but in practice an even swing is very unlikely to happen.

However, because the official seats projection for today's poll is showing Alba on zero seats and the SNP falling slightly short of a majority due to a lack of list seats, the argument is being made that Alba votes are wasted and that Alba supporters should return to the SNP on the list for tactical reasons.  That could be very misguided, because there's a core of Alba's support that is completely alienated from the SNP - those people are not going to go back, and if we want to make sure their votes aren't wasted, the more viable course of action could be to build on Alba's support and get it to the 5-6% needed to win a decent number of seats.

*  *  *

More details and analysis to follow.  You can also catch-up with Episode 6 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak to Alba Party leader Alex Salmond, HERE (with video) or HERE (audio only).

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Ipsos-Mori telephone survey is the FIFTH poll in a row to show a pro-independence majority

Is this the point at which we can stop mourning the loss of the unbroken sequence of Yes majorities which stretched from last June to this February?  Without wanting to tempt fate, we now appear to have a new little unbroken sequence - the latest in Ipsos-Mori's regular series of telephone polls for STV is the fifth poll in a row, across all firms, to show some kind of Yes lead.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 52% (-)
No 48% (-)

Of course another way of looking at it is that if Ipsos-Mori's methodology is right, Yes never actually lost the lead in the first place.  There was a dip in Yes support earlier in the year and the position has now stabilised - which would explain why the less Yes-friendly firms are flipping back and forth between tiny Yes leads and tiny No leads.

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions:

SNP 53% (+1)
Conservatives 20% (-3)
Labour 18% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 6% (+1)
Greens 2% (-1)

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions:

SNP 38% (-9)
Conservatives 21% (-1)
Labour 18% (+4)
Greens 12% (+4)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-)
Alba 3% (+3)

That's arguably a pretty encouraging result for Alba.  The danger was always that online polls were overestimating them due to volunteer polling panels containing a disproportionate number of politically engaged people.  If that had been the case, you'd have expected Alba not to trouble the scorer in a telephone poll.  Instead they're registering on 3%. Obviously they'll need to come close to doubling that to win a decent number of seats, although even on 3% nationally they could pick up one or two seats if their vote is distributed unevenly across the country.  Incidentally, telephone polling does make all the difference as far as George Galloway's anti-independence party is concerned - they're languishing on less than 0.5% of the list vote and don't appear to be in contention for any seats at all.

This is a rare occasion when a poll shows the Greens on course for a significant breakthrough and I don't have to put a health warning on it - as far as I know there's no question mark over how Ipsos-Mori pose the list question.  However, it's only one poll, so caution should still be exercised.

More details and analysis to follow.  You can also catch-up with Episode 6 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak to Alba Party leader Alex Salmond, HERE (with video) or HERE (audio only).

VIDEO: Scot Goes Popcast interview with Alex Salmond

You've already heard it, and now you can watch it in glorious technicolor. Here is the video version of Episode 6 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak with Alex Salmond, leader of the Alba Party and former First Minister of Scotland. If you have any trouble with the embedded player below, the direct link is HERE.

I've written quite a few constituency profiles for The National since I last mentioned them: Clydesdale, Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse, Mid-Fife & Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Highlands & Islands (regional list), Falkirk West, Falkirk East, Glasgow Anniesland and Glasgow Provan.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Scot Goes Popcast with special guest Alex Salmond

Well, you can't say you haven't been getting top-class guests in the Scot Goes Popcast recently - Miss PunnyPennie in the last one, and today for the sixth episode I was joined by none other than the former First Minister of Scotland, former leader of the SNP, and current leader of the Alba Party, Alex Salmond.  He's been extremely generous in giving time to several new media outlets - I believe he was interviewed by quite a few bloggers today in the aftermath of Alba's campaign launch.  I'm not holding my breath about getting the same access to Willie Rennie.

Question I asked Alex include -

* On what basis was he excluded from the BBC leaders debate?

* Is there any contradiction between him asking people to give both votes to the SNP in 2011, but saying this year that SNP list votes are wasted?

* Will he undertake to support any initiative the SNP take towards delivering independence or an independence referendum, even if he doesn't think it goes far enough?  In other words, will he ensure that the perfect doesn't become the enemy of the good?

* Will there in future be internal democratic elections in Alba to choose candidates and the leader?

* Hasn't Alba's creation given controversial journalist David Leask the satisfaction of saying that his schtick about "the real SNP" and "alt-Nats" has been sort-of-proved right?

If you have any problem with the embedded player below, the direct link to the podcast is HERE.

You can also listen to earlier episodes of the Popcast - 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Yes Corner interview

In a few minutes (8pm) I'll be interviewed for Yes Corner on YouTube, with a viewers' question and answer feature.  If you happen to be around and fancy watching or taking part, I believe this is the link.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Alba ascendant: sensational new Panelbase poll shows Alex Salmond's party on course for SIX seats

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


Pro-independence parties: 79 seats (61.2%)
Anti-independence parties: 50 seats (38.8%)


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).