Edinburgh – 9 September – The Scottish National Party’s poll lead has narrowed in the latest TNS opinion survey but support for the party’s aim of independence has risen in the year since the independence referendum.

In a poll of 1023 adults over 16 in Scotland, 58% of those who expressed a preference would back the SNP in the constituency section of the vote for the May 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, down from 62% a month ago. Labour rose three percentage points to 23%, Conservative support stood at 12% (unchanged) with the Liberal Democrats on 5% (up 2 points). This represents a seven point cut in the SNP lead to a still formidable 35 points.

In the regional vote, 51% of those expressing an opinion supported the SNP (down 3 points) with 24% for Labour (+4), 11% for the Conservatives (-1), 6% for the Liberal Democrats (+2) and 6% for the Greens (-2).

Tom Costley, Head of TNS Scotland, said: “SNP support remains at a very high level; Labour, which will be encouraged by making a modest dent in the SNP lead, is likely to have been helped in the past month by the election of Kezia Dugdale as leader in Scotland, and perhaps by the news focus on its UK leadership election.

“But it should be noted that the 23% poll support is still below the 24.3% it received in its General Election defeat by the SNP.”

The poll contains less encouraging news for the Conservatives and the Greens – in the regional vote, the Tories have slipped by a point in each of the last three months, while the Greens have lost four percentage points since the current TNS series of polls began in May 2015.

Survey respondents were also asked how they would vote if there was a referendum on independence ‘tomorrow’ – 47% said they would vote Yes, 42% No and 11% did not know.

Stripping out the don’t knows, this would give a lead to the Yes side by 53% to 47%.

Younger voters remain the most committed to independence, with 59% of 16-34s supporting a Yes Vote, with 28% for No (and 13% don’t know). Among those aged 35-54, Yes leads by 53%-39% (8% don’t know), and the over-55s favour a No vote by 58% to 31% (12% don’t know).

The survey also shows that the long-time Labour stronghold of Glasgow, which went for Yes in the referendum, is still in the Yes camp: the Yes lead in the city is 50% to 38% (12% don’t know). The No side has a six-point lead in the North East (49%-43%, 8% Don’t know) and a five-point lead in the Lothians (45%-40%, 15% don’t know).

Tom Costley said: “The apparent change of mood towards independence gives the SNP a difficult decision on whether to include a commitment to a referendum in its manifesto for next year’s elections.

“On the one hand, some will argue that ‘just one more heave’ will get the Yes vote over the line, and will be disappointed if there is no commitment to try again. Others will argue that a six-point lead can be overturned in a long campaign, and that a second lost referendum would make it hard to make another attempt for the foreseeable future.”

Scottish Opinion Monitor infographic

Notes to editors:

The full data tables are available here.

A sample of 1023 adults aged 16+ was interviewed throughout Scotland over the period August 12th – September 1st 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.

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