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Scottish Public Opinion Monitor

December 2011

Published:9 December 2011
Fieldwork:1 - 4 December 2011
Theme:Scotland
Source:jim.kelleher@ipsos.com
Keywords:Alex Salmond, Scotland, SNP
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Support for the SNP hits 50% as the party stretches its poll lead over Labour

As a momentous 2011 draws to a close, public backing for the SNP has slightly increased, giving the party double the support enjoyed by Labour in our latest Holyrood poll.

Among those certain to vote, half (51%) would back the SNP in an election to the Scottish Parliament, up by 2 percentage points from our last poll in August and by 6 points from May’s election victory. While support for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats remain largely unchanged (at 12% and 8% respectively), Labour’s support now stands at 26%, down 2 points from our August poll.

The SNP’s lead over Labour is particularly strong among men, where they have a 37-point lead, and those in rural areas, where they have a 30-point lead.

Satisfaction with party leaders

First Minister Alex Salmond continues to rate highly among voters. Three in five Scots (62%) say they are satisfied with his performance as First Minister compared to just over a quarter (27%) who say they are dissatisfied, giving him a net satisfaction rating of +35%, up a single point from our last poll in April.

For the two opposition parties with new leaders, the issue is mainly one of public recognition. Over half of voters (57%) could not say whether or not they were satisfied with new Conservative leader Ruth Davidson as she is not yet well known enough; this includes nearly half (48%) of Conservative supporters, suggesting that many of the parties’ backers are yet to make their minds up about her leadership.

Similarly, 52% of voters could not comment on new Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, suggesting he has similar issues of public recognition to overcome.

Mark Diffley, Research Director at Ipsos MORI said:

'The dominance of the SNP at Holyrood continues unabated as their lead over Labour widens. The results of this poll round off a memorable year for the SNP, in which the party won an historic overall majority in the Scottish Parliament elections. There are no signs yet of a significant challenge from any of the three main opposition parties, although given the fact that two have new leaders and the third is still to elect a new leader, this is perhaps understandable. The First Minister’s ratings remain high with the electorate while the new Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders are still largely unknown quantities. Once all three new leaders are firmly embedded it will be interesting to see if any of the opposition parties can recover'.
Technical Note
  • Results are based on a survey of 1,001 respondents conducted by telephone between 1st December and 4th December 2011.
  • Data are weighted by age, sex and working status using census data, and tenure using SHS 2007-2008 data, and by public-private sector employment by Scottish Government Quarterly Public Sector Series data.
  • An asterisk (*) indicates a percentage of less than 0.5% but greater than 0.
  • Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to multiple responses or computer rounding.
  • Where the base size is less than 30 the number (N) rather than the percentage of respondents is given.
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