It's part of the received political wisdom. The claim is that Maximum Eck isn't popular with Scottish women and goes down like a lead balloon with the distaff side. Like many articles of received wisdom, there's little in the way of evidence supporting the truth of the proposition. As I argued here back in August, if anything, recent political statistics suggest that Alex Salmond is popular amongst Scottish women, but has historically been more popular among Scottish men. That trend may be on the turn.
This morning, the Times and Ipsos-MORI have published a new poll on independence, following on from their last research exercise in February of this year. Plenty there to get our teeth into, but to aid digestion, I wanted to keep this post short and sweet. In addition to canvassing constitutional attitudes, the pollster posed its now familiar question, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the performance of various leading Scottish and UK politicians? Salmond amongst them.
So what did today's polling find, and how do today's ratings relate to the historical esteem in which the First Minister has been held? I've knocked together the pollster's findings on Salmond's popularity, going back to the balmy days of November 2009. Here's what the figures show, with today's findings on the far right of the chart. As you can see, things have been on the slide for Salmond since the December of 2011, with his popularity among both men and women trending downwards again and again in every poll taken since.
Overall, this works out as a 47% satisfied, 45% dissatisfied and 8% "dunnos" for Alex, down slightly from 50% satisfied, 43% dissatisfied and 7% undecideds in February. While he still enjoys a net +10 rating among men, for only the second time since February of 2010, Salmond now has a net negative rating amongst women, increasing from February's net -4% rating to today's -7%.
That said, it is important to put these figures in perspective. As the chart shows, the FM is polling about the same level as he was, two years into his first term of office during the SNP's spell as a minority government. Although on a downward trajectory, this trend is hardly unprecedented. His sky-high ratings in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Holyrood election were never likely to be sustainable. Mid-term, all governments find themselves in the pickle, and it'd be foolish to expect the SNP majority in Holyrood to be any different.
It is also worth bearing in mind that while 36% of the pollsters respondents said they were satisfied with Johann Lamont's stewardship of the Scottish Labour Party, with 31% dissatisfied, a mighty 33% of respondents still haven't the foggiest what to make of her one way or the other. Interestingly, today's findings confirm that Nicola Sturgeon continues to be rated highly since she was first included in Ipsos-MORI's last effort. No blip, February. Outshining Lamont by a long way in both positive ratings and basic recognition, Sturgeon again also narrowly outperformed her boss in positive ratings, with significantly fewer hostile assessments of her performance in office from Ipsos' respondents.
I''ll be coming back to the pollster's (not terrifically encouraging) findings on independence later. Until then, you can amuse yourself with the full polling tables (including Holyrood election intentions) here.