The SNP is on course for a Holyrood majority at the next election and Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus response is attracting former Tory and Labour supporters, a new poll has found.
The First Minister has impressed “significant chunks” of voters who backed the Scottish Conservatives or Scottish Labour at the last general election, according to the Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman
The survey of 1,016 people aged over 16 between January 8 and 13 found more than a third (37%) of Labour’s 2019 voters are more likely to back the SNP at the next election than they were, along with 13% of Scottish Conservative supporters.
But of the SNP voters who backed the party in the 2019 election, 14% now say they are more likely to vote Labour in May, and 8% are more likely to vote Conservative.
Overall, 59% of Scots have a more positive view of Ms Sturgeon now than before the pandemic, including 46% of Scottish Labour voters and 36% of Scottish Tory supporters.
Asked about their voting intentions for the upcoming Holyrood election, the findings show the SNP would have the support of 53% of constituency votes and 44% of list votes, compared to 19% and 16% respectively for the Tories, and 18% for Labour in both the constituency and list votes.
If replicated in May, it would give the SNP a 13-seat majority, according to The Scotsman.
Support for the Scottish Conservatives has fallen to the lowest level for almost five years, the poll suggests.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats’ support in the constituency vote remained consistent at 6%, with an increase of one percentage point for list voting intentions, up to 8%.
The Scottish Greens’ support in the list voting intention has dropped slightly, down from 12% to 11% since the last Savanta ComRes poll in December.
Voters are also increasingly impressed by Ms Sturgeon’s personal characteristics, such as whether she appears intelligent (76%, up from 73%), strong (74%, up from 71%) and genuine (57%, up from 55%).
However opinions on the personal traits of the other main party leaders Douglas Ross and Richard Leonard remain “virtually static”, Chris Hopkins, the political research director at Savanta ComRes, said.
He added: “What appears most interesting here is that the ceiling for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP could be even higher than the already-strong figures in the headline voting intention.
“Our data shows that Sturgeon’s management of the pandemic has improved her reputation among significant chunks of 2019 Labour and Conservative voters, and the SNP’s response to the crisis has led recent Labour voters to consider the SNP in May.
“Despite this, the state of the parties in Scotland looks much the same this month as it did last, and perhaps that’s a reflection of the fact that while the pandemic continues to dominate the news agenda, there is little time for the usual overt pre-election electioneering.
“There are some slightly improved numbers here for Labour, but that looks primarily down to Keir Starmer, as metrics relating to Scottish Labour and Richard Leonard have barely shifted.
“Holding on to the voters that appear to be flirting with the SNP, impressed by their response and their leader’s management of the pandemic, will be imperative if Labour hope to beat the Conservatives into second place.”
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “An 18th poll in a row showing support for Scotland’s right to choose its future underlines that it is becoming the settled will of the people of Scotland.
“The SNP will take nothing for granted and will continue to work every day to defend and promote the interests of Scotland.
“People in Scotland have the right to decide their own future, instead of a Boris Johnson-led Tory Government which has imposed a disastrous hard Brexit in the middle of a pandemic.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said: “This welcome poll is the latest in a long line that suggests the Scottish Greens can return a record number of MSPs in May.
“It’s clear that the public appreciate the constructive approach to opposition adopted by the Green MSPs, which has seen us punch well above our weight in Parliament and deliver bold and transformative policies.
“We’ll continue to work constructively, pushing the Government to build a fairer, greener Scotland.”
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