26 November 2010

Latest Holyrood poll...

What is the relationship between attitudes and voting behaviour? There is an extensive critical literature which engages with this deceptively simple question and the most modest, honest answers generally emphasise that its complicated. A range of reasons, beliefs and constellations of ideas obtain. What holds for one may not hold for another. We should attend to issues of identity and history, assessments of priority and the exclusionary logic of particular ideological commitments, with their structural silences and repressions. One of the most commonplace questions of this kind which befuddles British onlookers is why does the American working class vote in a way which seems contrary to their own material interests? In one sense, the question is useful as it indicates that the calculating, wealth-maximising individual is largely woken "Reason's" fantasy which struggles to explain the idiosyncrasies of people's actual commitments and the complex, often contradictory range of ideas they entertain about their world and politics. Equally, rather paradoxically, this focus on individual quirks risks reconstituting the lightbulb-headed ghost of the lonely individual, casting her eccentric little light as if in social darkness.

So we return to our initial question. What are the connections between attitudes to particular issues or  persons and (a) whether individuals vote and (b) how they vote? Strategically, from a partisan political perspective, the interest of the issue isn't academic.  How can we convince folk to emphasise one issue and not another? How to translate agreement into support? How to do so without (or more realistically, minimising) alienating other members of our coalition of disaprate interests? With today's Scottish 1000-odd soul Ipsos-MORI poll, I imagine many SNP members and supporters are asking themselves these fundamental questions.  Firstly, the "headline" results:

First, constituency vote...
  • SNP 31%
  • Labour 41%
  • Conservative 13%
  • Liberal Democrat 11%
  • Other 5%
Second, regional list vote...
  • SNP 32%
  • Lab 36%
  • Con 12%
  • LD 9%
  • SSP 2%
  • Greens 5%
  • Other 3%
On women voters...

Further confirmation today, as if it was necessary, that the significant gender gap in SNP support persists. Amongst those certain to vote, the gender division in Holyrood constituency voting intentions is Labour 34% male, while female support runs to a high 46%, compared to the SNP's 34% of male and 28% of female respondents. Its a stonking difference, albeit one which diminishes slightly on the list, with 29% of men and 42% of women saying they'll vote Labour. 34% and 31% respectively say they'll vote SNP.

On the Cooncil Tax etcetera...

78% of respondents are in favour of keeping Council Tax at its current level, with 77% of men and 79% of women agreeing with that proposal and only 17% of women and 21% of men disagreeing. Very few had no position on the issue. On maintaining levels of NHS spending as it is, 69% were supportive, 25% opposed. On £21,000 public sector pay freeze, support at 60%, opposition at 36%. Finally, on the proposed abolition of prescription charges, 59% support compared to opposition running at 36%.

On the Maximum Eck...

Overall 54% pronounced themselves satisfied with the Maximum Eck, compared to 37% who are dissatisfied and finally there was a fence-sphinctered 9% who dinnae ken. It is often suggested that Alex Salmond may appeal less to female voter. This is reflected - but only slightly - in attitudes towards him, with 58% of men questioned satisfied compared to 52% of women.  Interestingly, Alex is more divisive but remains popular amongst the older Scottish cohorts. Amongst 35-54 year olds, the satisfied/dissatisfied numbers compared 54% to 41% and amongst over 55s, 53% popularity compared to 41% who are unhappy. In David Torrance's recent biography, (reviewed here), he refers to the Eckly cultivation of the character of the Scottish Everyman. We might be tempted to see this reflected in the poll, which enumerates that his popularity only wobbles between 53% and 57% satisfied across all socio-economic categories. Among SNP supporters, 88% were satisfied, while he is slightly more popular amongst rural than urban voters (57% to 54%) and less unpopular in rustic Scotia (34%/38%).  That said, even Scottish Labour voters in Holyrood are neatly divided between approbation and opprobrium,  46% to 47%. Among the yellow-feather brigade, Caron is not alone, with 54% of her fellow Liberal Democrat voters approving of the First Minister.

So what? What is the use of such recognition and popularity if it doesn't pull your party along after you? What good an overwhelming support for not raising the council tax, if that doesn't result in the recognition that the SNP is the place for you? The question I began with is central. Our understanding of what it means to "fail to connect with the voters" will set in train a whole strategy. There is much, much more which one could say here and the polling details break down across more than a hundred pages. Do take a look for yourselves.

No comments :

Post a Comment