A second company is now suggesting that the SNP could win over 50% in Scotland on May 7th – a feat not achieved by any party since the Conservatives won 50.1% in 1955. In a poll that appears in today’s Daily Record, Survation put the SNP on 51%, up four points on its previous reading in mid-March, while Labour support is said to be unchanged on 26%. That means that no less than four polling companies now unanimously reckon that SNP support has increased during the election campaign.
Given that SNP support was already standing at 50%, the publication of today’s poll has little effect on our poll of polls. The only change is that Conservative support has edged down a point; Survation suggest support for David Cameron’s party has eased a couple of points to 14%, but there is no consistent trend in recent polls that points towards Tory decline, and thus this should probably be regarded as no more than random fluctuation.
More importantly, if the difference between the current levels of party support in our poll of polls and the outcome across Scotland as a whole were to be replicated in each and every constituency, the SNP would secure no less than 55 (or 93%) of Scotland’s 59 seats. Such an outcome would represent the biggest landslide in Scottish electoral history, beating the previous record set when the parties behind the National Government won 90% (64 out of 71) of the Scottish seats in 1931. The geographically evenly spread nature of the SNP vote, for so long a feature that put it at a competitive disadvantage in first past the post elections, may be about to turn up trumps for the party in this election.
In Panelbase’s poll on Sunday, it appeared that the rise in SNP support since the beginning of the year had occurred disproportionately amongst those who voted Yes in last September’s referendum, thereby making the gap between Yes and No voters in how they propose to vote in May even wider. However, today’s poll suggests that the SNP may have been at least as successful at picking up votes from those who voted No in September as it has been in consolidating its support amongst those who voted Yes. Back in February, when the overall level of support for the SNP was estimated to be 45%, 84% of Yes voters and 11% No ones said that there were backing the nationalists. Both those figures have now crept up – to 88% and 18% respectively.
If indeed the SNP have succeeded in reaching out beyond the support that the Yes campaign garnered last September, then much of the credit would appear to go to the party’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon. Already the most popular of all the party leaders in Scotland, it seems that she has succeeded in winning the confidence of yet more voters north of the border. As many as 47% now say that they trust her either ‘completely’ or ‘mostly’, up from 38% when Survation last asked the question in February. In contrast, only 14% say the same about Jim Murphy (down 3 points on February) who even trails Ed Miliband (21%, up 4). If disaster does strike Labour on May 7th the party may have to conclude that, however good the tunes it played during the election campaign, it just simply did not have a good enough organist to attract listeners’ attention.
About the author
John Curtice is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, Senior Research Fellow at ScotCen and at 'UK in a Changing Europe', and Chief Commentator on the What Scotland Thinks website.