Edinburgh - 10 August - The Scottish National Party retains its strong lead in voting intentions for next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections, according to a new poll by TNS. But the survey also shows only a third or fewer of the electorate think the SNP government at Holyrood has performed well on four key policy areas.

The survey of 1029 adults aged 16 or over in Scotland found that 62% of those who expressed a party preference intended to vote for the SNP in the constituency section of the poll in May 2016, a slight increase on the 60% recorded in the previous month.

Labour remained second on 20% (unchanged), Conservative support eased two percentage points to 12% and the Liberal Democrats were down two points at 3%.

There were similar minor changes in party support in the regional list vote, with the SNP on 54% (up 3 points), Labour on 20% (-1), Conservatives on 12% (-1), Greens on 8% (+1) and Liberal Democrats on 4% (-1).

In the campaign for last year’s referendum, there was strong opposition to independence among older voters – strong enough to counter the Yes majority in the younger age groups. But 47% of the over-55s are prepared to vote for the SNP to run the devolved government (42% in the regional list vote). Three quarters (73%) of 16-34s say they are planning to vote for the SNP.

The poll also showed a further erosion of the Labour vote, with 15% of those who backed Labour at the general election this year intending to vote SNP for the Scottish parliament, compared to 8% in the previous month. By contrast, 97% of those who voted SNP in the general election plan to do so again for Holyrood.

However, respondents delivered a mixed verdict on the SNP government’s record on four key policy areas over the past 12 months, with only between a quarter and a third rating its performance as good. On the NHS and on crime and justice, 29% of adults said the SNP administration had performed poorly – a quarter of the SNP’s own supporters rated the party poor on the NHS and 22% on crime and justice.

Among all adults, the government’s ratings were:

  • The economy: Good 25%, Poor 24%, Neither 45%.
  • The NHS: Good 34%, Poor 29%, Neither 33%.
  • Education: Good 30%, Poor 19%, Neither 40%.
  • Crime and Justice: Good 23%, Poor 29%, Neither 40%.

Tom Costley, Head of TNS Scotland, said: “It is interesting that the SNP has such a strong lead in voting intentions for the Scottish parliament while only a third or fewer of voters view its performance in the past year in a positive light.

“This poll suggests that the opposition parties may find voters ready to listen to their alternative policies, although with Labour still engaged in leadership elections at Scottish and UK level, the SNP’s chief rival in Scotland is not yet ready to present a programme to the electorate.

“The SNP’s position may be largely due to the positive mood surrounding its strong performance in the referendum and general election. But there has been extensive media reporting of problems on devolved issues, especially in the NHS and around the new unified Police Scotland.

“The SNP now has an opportunity to build the case for its record in government before the Holyrood election campaign gets properly under way towards the end of this year.”

TNS UK Scottish Opinion Monitor infographic

Notes to editors:

The full data tables are available here.

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  • A sample of 1029 adults aged 16+ was interviewed throughout Scotland over the period July 10th – August 3rd 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.  You can vote for the same party in each vote, or you can vote for different parties.”.  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 during the period it was conducted. It is not a forecast of future voting intention.

About TNS
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