This morning TNS BMRB released the results of their latest poll of voting intentions. It provides further dismal reading for Labour.
Labour’s support is put at just 24%, down six points on the company’s previous poll conducted during the first three weeks of February. The SNP, in contrast, are estimated to be on 52%, up six points. With the Conservatives reckoned to be on just 13% (down one) and the Liberal Democrats, 6%, the poll points to the SNP winning no less than 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats, should the movement in party support since 2010 be the same in every constituency as it is across the UK as a whole. Labour would be left with just 2 seats, and the Liberal Democrats one.
However, there are three caveats that should be entered before we come to the firm conclusion that together with the results of the YouGov poll released last Friday the election in Scotland is moving further in Labour’s direction.
First, TNS’s poll was conducted over an extended period – between 18 March and 8 April – and thus does not necessarily constitute evidence of a post-Easter or post-leaders’ debates move in favour of the SNP. It was conducted at a time when three other polls put the SNP on just 45%.
Second, this is not the first poll to put SNP support this high. Ipsos MORI also put the SNP on 52% (and Labour on 24%) in a poll it conducted back in January, but in the event it proved to be a result that no other poll (until today’s) managed to replicate.
Third, a SNP vote of anything much above 45% is only likely be achieved if the party proves to be successful at reaching out to those who voted No in the independence referendum, and as today’s poll did not ask people how they voted last September, we cannot be sure whether this has happened or not.
That said, there are certainly some worrying patterns for Labour in this poll. The increase in SNP support registered by TNS seems to have occurred primarily amongst working class and younger voters. In its previous poll SNP support was the same amongst working class (‘C2DE’) voters as it was amongst middle class (‘ABC1’) ones. Now SNP support is reckoned to be 48% amongst middle class voters but as much as 57% amongst C2DE ones. This hardly suggests that Labour’s attempts to reach out to the less well-off sections of Scottish society have been successful. Meanwhile support for the nationalists is put as high as 71% amongst those aged 18-34, an increase if no less than 21 points on TNS’s previous poll.
Meanwhile today’s poll adds to the evidence that the turnout could well be high in the general election north of the border. As many as 79% say they are either ‘certainly’ or ‘very likely’ to vote on May 7, exactly the same proportion as said they were ‘certainly’ or ‘very likely’ to vote in the referendum at more or less the same stage in the campaign (that is in a TNS poll conducted in late July and early August). Voters seem to have decided that this election does matter.