London – 16 July – The Scottish National Party has retained its strong opinion poll lead in Scotland over the past month, with healthcare emerging as the top concern for voters ahead of elections to the Scottish Parliament next May, according to a new survey by TNS.

In the poll of 1056 adults over 16 years of age, 60% of those who declared a party preference backed the SNP in the constituency vote, unchanged from a month ago. Labour trailed on 20% (up 1 percentage point), the Conservatives on 14% (-1), the Liberal Democrats on 5% (+2), while 2% backed other parties (-1).

The pattern of party support in the regional vote for list MSPs was also similar to the previous month, with 51% backing the SNP (+1), 21% for Labour (+2), 13% for the Conservatives (-1), 5% for the Liberal Democrats (unchanged) and 7% for the Greens (-3).

The poll also continued to point towards a relatively high turnout, with 66% saying they were certain to vote, just one point less than a month ago – turnout in the 2011 Holyrood election was 50%.

The survey also found that the SNP was more successful in retaining the support of those who backed the party in this year’s general election. Almost all (97%) of those who said they voted SNP in May said they intended to back the party in the constituency vote for Holyrood next May, while 84% said they would vote SNP in the regional vote, with 8% intending to vote Green.

Among Labour general election voters, 85% said they would vote Labour in the constituency vote for Holyrood, with 8% moving to the SNP: 74% said they would support Labour in the regional vote, with 12% supporting the SNP and 6% the Greens.

Tom Costley, head of TNS Scotland, said: “As would have been expected, political opinion in Scotland appears to be quite stable, with the SNP in a commanding lead over the other parties. Our survey also suggests that the SNP vote may be holding together more strongly than the Labour vote.

“However, given that Labour is still in the process of choosing new UK and Scottish leaders, the picture may change later in the year when the leaders of all the parties set out their stalls at their autumn conferences.”

“It is worth noting that the SNP lead among younger voters continues to be especially strong – 73% of those aged 16-34 who express a party preference say they intend to vote SNP, against 12% backing Labour. After our last poll, Kezia Dugdale, one of the contenders for the leadership of Scottish Labour, warned her party that its relative weakness among younger voters meant that ‘we may not be at the bottom of where the Labour Party could get to in Scottish public life. There might be another storm coming’.”

In the TNS poll, respondents were also asked which issues were important to them in deciding how to cast their vote in the Scottish Parliament election. Healthcare emerged as top issue (59%) followed by education and training (38%) and employment/job prospects (36%). Healthcare was the top issue for supporters of all three major parties – the SNP, Labour and the Conservatives.

The continuing importance of constitutional issues to SNP supporters was reflected in the 38% who said devolving more powers to Holyrood was an important issue, making it the fourth most important to SNP voters, compared with 9% of Labour voters and 6% of Conservative supporters. Independence was the fifth most important issue for SNP supporters with 37%, against 7% of those backing Labour and 12% of those intending to vote Conservative.

Notes to editors:

The full data tables are available here.

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  • A sample of 1056 adults aged 16+ was interviewed throughout Scotland over the period June 19th – July 8th 2015.
  • Although the franchise is currently limited to those aged 18 and over, the voting age is expected to fall to 16 for the 2016 Holyrood election, so TNS has decided to interview those aged 16 and over.
  • Prior to being asked to indicate their preference, all respondents were informed that: “In the election for the Scottish Parliament, each person has 2 votes – one for a candidate as MSP for their constituency and the other for a party to elect additional MSPs for that area of Scotland”. Full wording of the questions is provided on the data tables.
  • To ensure the sample was representative of the adult population of Scotland, it was weighted to match population estimates for working status within gender, age, social grade and Scottish Parliament region, and to match turnout and share of vote from the 2011 Holyrood election (constituency vote) and the 2015 General Election.
  • All interviews were conducted face-to-face, in-home using CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) and quota sampling.

Please note that this is an opinion poll. It should be viewed as a snapshot of stated voting intention on the day it was conducted. It is not a forecast of future voting intention.

About TNS
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