1 May 2011

That last YouGov poll, before election day...

For amateur psephologists, the Scotland on Sunday's three-week non-stop run of YouGov polls before the Holyrood election on the 5th of May has been a real treat. The first arrived on the 18th of April, followed by a second on the 24th, and finally, today's. YouGov have been publishing their fuller data tables with admirable alacrity, allowing those of us with particular interests and hobby horses to mount up, even as the ink is still drying on the paper's morning editions. Today's more elaborated data is already available here. The Scotland on Sunday titled their article "Labour slashes SNP election lead". A closer investigation of YouGov's detailed figures, however, while indeed showing that the race is narrowing in its last days - colour me stunned - shows that Labour continues to do less well than they were doing just two weeks ago - while the SNP generally records a stable lead - or improvements on its polling performance just a fortnight ago. Interest piqued? Read on MacDuff...

At this late stage in the campaign, with only a few days to go till most Scots wield their brutal hope-defying pencils in booths across the country, it seems an apt moment to remind ourselves of the  Holyrood results in 2007. All attentive politics watchers will recall that in 2007, the plucky SNP sloop overhauled Labour's doddering, overballasted  galleon, but only by a single MSP. Yet in percentage terms, across the nation, we should remember that the Scottish mutiny against Cap'n "Calico" Jack McConnell was an astonishingly close-run thing. His hardy Labour bosuns held out against Salmond's upstart crew of lubbers and untried landsmen astonishingly well, the margin of victory proving as small in percentage terms as the final number of parliamentarians suggested.

Holyrood election 2007, constituency results...
  • SNP ~ 32.9%
  • Labour ~ 32.2%
  • Tory ~ 16.6%
  • Liberal ~ 16.2%
Holyrood election 2007, regional results...
  • SNP ~ 31%
  • Labour ~ 29.2%
  • Tory ~ 13.9%
  • Liberal ~ 11.3%
  • Greens ~ 4.0%

To a great extent, the subsequent political atmosphere induced almost everyone to forget the Nationalists' wafer-thin parliamentary precedence, and the sharply-divided opinion of the electorate which produced it. Cap'n Jack meekly going down with his ship; the SNP riding high in the rigging, wind in their sails; field-promoted, Wendy Alexander's entertainingly disastrous stint at the tiller, her marines by turns tremulous, bullish or delusional; the shock of Margaret Curran's jollyboat being scuttled in Glasgow East - and so on. Each conspired to obscure the 2007 legacy of the SNP's svelte institutional and popular lead over Labour. That, of course, is partly what representative democracy is about, relieving the generality of the people of the need for constant decision-making on the affairs of the day. When parliament is dissolved, and all is once again thrown into contingency, it was inevitable that the dormancy of 2007's reasonably close contest would end, revitalised as the people exerted its will in this election, with all of the caprice and uncertainty which is implied.

That was 2007. What of 2011? And what, pray, does the latest and last YouGov poll before polling day have to say? Between the 26th and 29th of April, the pollsters asked 1,108 Scots the usual questions.  As usual, I'll be focussing on gender and social gradings. I'm hoping some other soul (possibly my feathered friend, the Burd) might take a closer look at what the run of polling data might tell us about inter-generational differences in voting intentions, from the youngest 18 year old voters, to the eldest. Rugged individualists can scrutinise this element of the most recent polling in the full figures.  Again, all figures reproduced here are based on YouGov's assessments of likelihood to vote. The (+/-) figures given in first set of brackets are the change on last week's results (24th of April), the second set of brackets compare this week's figures to the polling results published two weeks ago (the 18th of April).

Constituency voting intentions (total)

  • SNP ~ 42% (-3)(+2)
  • Labour ~ 34% (+2)(-3)
  • Tory ~ 12% (+2)(+1)
  • Liberal ~ 7% (-1)(-1)
  • Other ~ 5% (+1)(+1)
  • Don't know ~ 7% (-2)(-2)

And in gendered terms? This week, the menfolk answered...

Constituency voting intentions (men)

  • SNP ~ 44% (-3)(+3)
  • Labour ~ 31% (-1)(-8)
  • Tory ~ 12% (+1)(+2)
  • Liberal ~ 8% (+1)(+2)
  • Other ~ 5% (+1)(+1)
  • Don't know ~ 5% (-1)(-2)

Meanwhile, for the womenfolk...

Constituency voting intentions (women)

  • SNP ~ 41% (-2)(+2)
  • Labour ~ 38% (+5)(+2)
  • Tory ~ 12% (+2)(-)
  • Liberal ~ 5% (-4)(-4)
  • Other ~ 4% (-1)(+1)
  • Don't know ~ 10% (-1)(-)

And now, for today's regional list votes results. You'll notice that today's poll totals record an almost identical result to the YouGov polling of two weeks ago (remember, the change in the result from the poll published on the 18th of April, or in this case, the lack of change, is recorded in the second bracket).

Regional voting intentions (total)

  • SNP ~ 35% (-4)(-)
  • Labour ~ 33% (+4)(-)
  • Tory ~ 12% (-)(-)
  • Green ~ 7% (-)(-)
  • Liberals ~ 6% (-1)(-)
  • SSP ~ 3% (+1)(-)
  • Solidarity ~ 0% (-)(-1)
  • Don't know ~ 8% (-)(-1)

And breaking down those regional totals along gendered lines...

Regional voting intentions (men)

  • SNP ~ 35% (-5)(-1)
  • Labour ~ 30% (-2)(-4)
  • Tory ~ 13% (+2)(+1)
  • Green~ 9% (-)(+3)
  • Liberal ~ 7% (+1)(+1)
  • SSP ~ 3% (-)(-)
  • Solidarity ~ 0% (-1)(-1)
  • Don't know ~ 4% (-1)(-3)

While the womenfolk...

Regional voting intentions (women)

  • SNP ~ 36% (-1)(+3)
  • Labour ~ 35% (+4)(+2)
  • Tory ~ 12% (-)(-1)
  • Green ~ 6% (-)(-)
  • Liberals ~ 5% (-3)(-4)
  • SSP ~ 3% (+1)(+1)
  • Solidarity ~ 0% (-)(-)
  • Don't know ~ 11% (-)(-)

And in terms of social-grading? Where goes bourgeois Scotland? Whither the working class? Last week's poll suggested that the weight of support from middle class respondents had flipped from Labour to the SNP - but only just. Moreover, the SNP continued to dominate to a startling extent amongst working class respondents, most recently to the tune of 15 and 10%. In the last days of the campaign, where stands Scotland?

Constituency voting intentions (ABC1)

  • SNP ~ 39% (-1)(+5)
  • Labour ~ 33% (+2)(-5)
  • Tory ~ 17% (+3)(+3)
  • Liberal ~ 7% (-3)(-4)
  • Don't know ~ 7% (-3)(-3)

And middle-class voters, in the region...

Regional voting intentions (ABC1)

  • SNP ~ 31% (-4)(+2)
  • Labour ~ 31% (+4)(-1)
  • Tory ~ 16% (+1)(-1)
  • Liberal ~ 8% (-1)(-2)
  • Green ~ 8% (-1)(-2)
  • SSP ~ 2% (-)(-)
  • Solidarity ~ 0% (-)(-)
  • Don't know ~ 8% (-1)(-3)

 Today's poll, while showing diminished support for the SNP amongst ABC1 voters in the last week, still suggests that the SNP a couple of points up on their position from a couple of weeks ago. By contrast, while Labour's fortunes have improved amongst bourgeois voters this week, they are still a point down on their performance a fortnight ago. And what of the C2DEs? Last week suggested that the Nationalists enjoyed a 15% lead over Labour amongst working class voters on the constituency ballot and a 10% lead in the region. Today?

Constituency voting intentions (C2DE)

  • SNP ~ 46% (-3)(+2)
  • Labour ~ 36% (+2)(-1)
  • Tory ~ 7% (-)(-1)
  • Liberal ~ 6% (-)(+1)
  • Don't know ~ 8% (-1)(-)

While, in line with the general tightening of the poll, the Nationalist support is contracting somewhat amongst C2DEs, and Labour's fortunes advance on last week's performances, the SNP are still doing better amongst working class voters than two weeks ago, while Labour just below the level of support then achieved. If YouGov is to be believed, the gap continues to run at 10% in the constituency ballot. Interestingly, in the region we see the parallels between today's poll and that published on the 18th, replicated in the total regional figures, replicated.

Regional voting intentions (C2DE)

  • SNP ~ 40% (-2)(-)
  • Labour ~ 34% (+2)(-)
  • Tory ~ 8% (-1)(-)
  • Green ~ 7% (+1)(+1)
  • Liberals ~ 4% (-2)(-1)
  • SSP ~ 3% (+1)(-)
  • Solidarity ~ 0% (-1)(-1)
  • Don't know ~ 8% (-)(-)

The full YouGov tables 1st of May poll.


  1. There's something very wrong with those percentages - I've not tallied them all up, but of the four I've added up, they all total more than 100%!

    I don't get what it is that Labour has that seems to hold the female vote a bit better than the male vote. Are women just more conservative than men? This would perhaps tie in with the fact men seem far more likely to vote Green than women. Or is it just that women are less interested in politics, and therefore continue to think Labour are the party of the centre-left? Whatever it is, it baffles me.

  2. Whatever it is, it baffles me.

    I was born of a woman, had a sister, married several of them and have two daughters.

    I don't even begin to understand them and when I confess so to them they just smile.

    Anyway, roll on the day.

    Happy first of May everyone.

  3. Doug,

    I checked to make quite sure I wasn't a faulty amanuensis, based on the original figures. I suspect this arises out of YouGov's calculations about likelihood to vote, not least because a large % of the potentially voting populace won't cast their ballots. Not being privy to how those calculations are made, I can't speak to the issue more than that.

  4. As to the gendered question, as you'll well know if you've kicked about in these parts for long enough, it is a question which fascinates me. If YouGov is to be believed, it is a grand thing (and no mean achievement) that the SNP are now leading amongst female voters in constituencies and in the regions (albeit only by a slim margin in the latter case). The sociological question of "why" is much more difficult to find a satisfactory answer to (or satisfactory answers, I should say).

    To my knowledge, nobody has yet conducted qualitative social research on how and why Scottish voting preferences are gendered (although if I've missed a study, I apologise and invite correction and a citation!). Given the scale of the research project, some quantitative element would seem useful too...

    *adds it to his long list of future potentially interesting studies, worth conducting, if I can find the time and money*

  5. Perhaps it's all to do with the techniques of seduction and the wooing game?

    Or there again the aphrodisiac of power?

  6. Crinkly,

    Does that imply that our male fellow citizens are more readily wooed and drawn into the sticky web of political homosociability than women?

  7. The poll shows Labour closing in and the SNP slipping out.

    Three days to go and it's all to play for.

    The odds are narrowing.

    The games afoot, Watson!

    Lay on MacDuff!!

    Etcetera etcetera...

  8. Or was that poll an outlier?

    It varies pretty substantially from every other recent poll including todays TNS poll.

  9. There is a report of another YouGov poll out tonight.

  10. Apparently the gap narrows again...

    I remember that the nats were ahead at this stage in 2007, and it came down to 48 votes in Cunninghame North, with 1100 spoiled ballots, some of the votes from Arran damp.. ??? (how to explain that!!!) and a denied recount.