BMG’s exclusive Scottish Parliament election voting intention poll for The Herald shows SNP chances of a majority on knife-edge, following a turbulent few weeks for the Scottish First Minister.

Key findings:

  • Constituency vote figures: SNP 48%, Con 21%, Lab 20%, Lib Dem 8%, Other 2%
  • Regional list vote figures: SNP 42%, Con 22%, Lab 17%, Lib Dem 8%, Green 8%, Reform UK 1%, Other 2%
  • Half (49%) of Scots think Sturgeon should resign if she is found to have broken ministerial code case of ministerial code breach; 38% think she should not resign.
  • However, close to half (47%) believe she has been more truthful than Alex Salmond.
  • There is also widespread support for Sturgeon’s response to Covid-19, with 58% feeling she has handled the pandemic well and 56% thinking the pace of the Scottish Government’s plan to ease restrictions is about right.

Analysis from BMG’s Head of Polling

Commenting on the voting intention figures, Robert Struthers, Head of Polling at BMG, said:

Polling in 2020 showed the SNP consistently getting over half the vote, with some polls placing their support as high as 58% when looking at the constituency vote.

Whilst this is our first Scottish voting intention poll since the 2019 election, these numbers certainly suggest that the Alex Salmond affair has had a detrimental impact on their support.

Whilst there is no question the SNP are on course to continue to be the largest party at Holyrood, our polling does suggest Sturgeon’s ability to form a majority is now on a knife-edge.

Using a uniform seat calculator – a general guide of estimating how votes might translate into seats – our vote intention numbers place the SNP on 66 seats, the slimmest majority of just one. The margin of error, a feature of all polls, coupled with the intricacy of the Scottish electoral system, means if the election was held now, the SNP’s chances of gaining an overall majority hangs very much in the balance.

The fine margins of Scottish politics extend to people’s views on Scotland’s constitutional future. With don’t knows removed, a slim majority, some 52%, say they would vote for independence in a referendum, with 48% supporting Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom.

Discussing public perceptions towards the Salmond Inquiry and James Hamilton’s investigation, he added:

Polling averages leave us in no doubt that the ongoing Salmond debacle has dented Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity and that of her party.

Close to half of Scots, including a quarter of SNP voters, think Nicola Sturgeon should resign should the investigation conclude there has been a breach of the ministerial code, highlighting the danger that the affair continues to pose to the First Minister.

However, whilst it is probably fair to say that neither politician has come out the inquiry positively, many more Scot’s believe Sturgeon’s account of events has been more truthful than Alex Salmond’s. The numbers who believe Sturgeon over the former First Minister include a comfortable majority of SNP voters.

What is striking from these numbers is that Sturgeon remains incredibly popular and an electoral asset ahead of May’s election. More than half of Scots are satisfied with the job she is doing, a rating that her rivals both north and south of the border could only dream of.

The First Minister’s strong poll numbers are driven by the fact that she is widely seen as having handled the Covid-19 crisis effectively – figures that look all the more commanding when you compare them to Boris Johnson’s.

Readers should keep in mind that the historical record of polling shows that there is a 9 in 10 chance that the actual share lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by opinion polls.

An article by The Scottish Herald about these figures can be found here.

Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.

For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
0121 333 6006Andrew Price – Senior Research Executive

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