Labour appear to be closing the gap on the SNP ahead of the next General Election, according to the latest opinion poll from Savanta for The Scotsman.
The poll, the first to be conducted since Nicola Sturgeon announced she would be stepping down as First Minister and leader of the SNP, shows Labour up two, two, and three points in the Westminster, Holyrood constituency and Holyrood list voting intentions, respectively.
Sturgeon’s party, however, remain well out in front, with a 10 point lead over Labour in Westminster, and a 13 point lead over Anas Sarwar’s party in the Holyrood constituency vote.
The SNP lead over Labour was, however, 21 points back in late June when Savanta first asked a Westminster voting intention on behalf of The Scotsman ahead of the next General Election, showing an 11 point reduction since.
Douglas Ross’ Conservatives remain in the mid-teens across all three voting questions.
Nicola Sturgeon stepping aside does not appear to have had any impact on the voting intentions for a second independence referendum, with the ‘No’ lead over ‘Yes’ remaining at two points (51% vs 49%) once undecided voters have been removed.
The poll also assesses the contenders for the SNP leadership with Nicola Sturgeon due to stand down. A third (34%) of SNP voters and half (50%) of the Scottish populace say that they don’t know who would be their preference to replace Sturgeon, with Kate Forbes (18%) being the most popular named candidate among SNP voters. She is by no means a runaway frontrunner, though, with Angus Robertson (14%) and John Swinney (11%) not far behind.
And with Nicola Sturgeon bowing out, the poll finds a marked increase in some of her personal character scores, with Scots 13 points more likely to view her as genuine (58%), 10 points more likely to view her as strong (77%) and seven points more likely to view her as trustworthy (51%) than they did in our last poll in December.
Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta said, “There’s some notable, albeit small changes in the voting intention, with Labour closing the gap on the SNP in Westminster and both Holyrood votes.
“Compared to the end of June, when Savanta and The Scotsman began recording a Westminster voting intention, Labour have closed the gap over the SNP from 21pts to just 10. While across the whole of the UK, Labour have been able to capitalise on the collapse of the Conservative vote, that isn’t evident in Scotland, and implies some direct SNP to Labour switching.”
“The SNP, then, looking for a new leader, are at something of a crossroads. Making the right leadership choice will be imperative, else they do risk losing some Westminster seats to Labour, especially those where Labour finished second in 2019.
“Kate Forbes is the most popular would-be replacement for Sturgeon among both SNP voters and Scots as a whole, although she’s far from a runaway choice, with a half of the populace, and a third of SNP voters, stating they have no idea who’d be the best Sturgeon replacement.”