SNP knocking on the door of a majority but too close to call

12% of Scottish voters say they may change their mind – especially Labour supporters - in our final election poll for STV News.

The author(s)

  • Emily Gray Managing Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
  • Rachel Ormston Research Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
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Ipsos MORI’s final 2021 Scottish Parliament election poll for STV News indicates that the SNP is on course to win significantly more of the vote than any other party at the election on 6th May.

Our headline estimate of voting intention on the constituency vote is:

  • SNP: 50% (-3 compared with our last poll of 29 March – 4 April)
  • Scottish Labour: 22% (+4)
  • Scottish Conservatives: 20% (unchanged)
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats: 6% (unchanged)
  • Scottish Green Party: 2% (unchanged)
  • Other: 1% (unchanged)

Our headline estimate of voting intention on the regional list vote is:

  • SNP: 39% (+1)
  • Scottish Conservatives: 23% (+2)
  • Scottish Labour: 18% (unchanged)
  • Scottish Green Party: 12% (unchanged)
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats: 4% (-2)
  • The Alba Party: 2% (-1)
  • Other: 2% (unchanged)

These findings confirm that the SNP is going into Thursday’s election in a very strong position. However, it is not possible to predict with confidence on the basis of these results whether the SNP will definitely win an outright majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament. This is both because specific local circumstances will play a role and because all polls are subject to a margin of error, which could easily be the difference between the SNP gaining an outright majority and falling short of this.

When it comes to the contest for second place, Labour and the Conservatives look to be going into the constituency vote contest neck and neck. The Conservatives look slightly more comfortably ahead on regional list voting intention (23%, compared with 18% for Labour).

The Greens, on 12%, look set to increase their share of the regional vote on the 6% they achieved in 2016. As in 2016, they look likely to finish ahead of the Liberal Democrats in share of regional list votes. The Alba Party, on just 2%, may struggle to gain enough votes to return any MSPs (although this is, of course, dependent on whether they secure a higher level than this in specific regions).

Among likely voters, 12% say they may still change their mind before they cast their constituency vote. This rises to 21% of Labour supporters who may change their mind, while SNP and Conservative supporters are more likely to say that they have definitely decided to vote for their party (91% and 90%).

Similarly, 14% say they may still change their mind before they cast their regional list vote. 15% of Labour supporters, 11% of Conservative supporters and 9% of SNP supporters say they may change their mind on the list vote

Three quarters (74%) of SNP constituency voters say they will vote ‘both votes SNP’ by casting their regional list vote for the party as well. The remaining 26% are most likely to say they will cast their list vote for the Scottish Green Party (18% of SNP constituency voters say this), with a small minority saying they will vote for The Alba Party (4%) or Scottish Labour (3%) on the regional list.

The Scottish public are evenly split on independence. Among those likely to vote in an independence referendum, 50% say they would vote Yes while 50% would vote No.

Chart: Support for Scottish independence: Change over time - Ipsos MORI

Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, commented:

Whether there will be a SNP majority or not hangs in the balance. The election result may come down to how the parties perform in a small number of key marginal seats, as well as in the regional vote, which is likely to prove particularly important in determining which party is in second place. With a relatively high percentage of voters still saying they’ve not definitely decided, all the parties still have something to play for tomorrow.

Technical note

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,502 adults aged 16+ across Scotland.
  • Interviews were conducted by telephone 30 April – 3 May 2021.  
  • Data are weighted to the profile of the population.
  • Our turnout filter for the Scottish Parliament voting intention figures excludes those who are not registered to vote and is based on all expressing a voting intention, saying they would be at least 9/10 likely to vote in a Scottish Parliament election and saying they usually/always vote or it depends at Scottish Parliament elections.
  • Those who expressed an intention to vote for the Greens in constituencies in which there is no Green candidate standing, or to vote for a party that is not standing any constituency candidates, were reallocated to their second choice for constituency vote.
  • Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don’t know” categories.
  • All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.

The author(s)

  • Emily Gray Managing Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
  • Rachel Ormston Research Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland

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