Could the pollsters be overstating the SNP again?

Could the pollsters be overstating the SNP again?

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    Are both Labour and the Tories be doing better than the surveys suggest?

With the Scottish elections less than three weeks away and almost all the polls pointing to the SNP finishing up as top party in the Scottish Parliament it is perhaps worth looking at the record of polling in Scotland.

For as the above table on how the pollsters fared in 2003 illustrates there is a strong tendency for all the firms to over-state the SNP vote.

    Could the same thing be happening again and that Alex Salmond is not quite as certain to become the country’s First Minister as many are predicting?

In the constituency vote last time all the pollsters overstated both Labour and the SNP. On the regional list all but Populus, which got it spot on, over-stated the SNP.

The Tories were understated by all the pollsters in the constituency vote and by all but YouGov in the regional list.

The big difference between now and then is the sheer scale of support for the SNP, up to 39%, that the pollsters are finding. Labour are also doing much worse nationally than they were four years ago. Even if the polling numbers for the SNP are on the high side then it appears that there is still considerable slack.

The only polling oddity was the one published last weekend by MRUK which had Labour on an incredible 37% on the regional list – which compared with the 29% that the party achieved when the party was in a much better state in 2003. That pollster is not listed as a member of the British Polling Council, does not have to follow the transparency rules and I would be prepared to wager a four figure sum that they are wrong. Are there any takers on the Herald that published the poll or from the pollster?

  • In the betting Salmond is 4/9 to be next First Minister and the SNP are 0.62/1 favourites to end up with most seats. Even with the 2003 polling experience I cannot see a case for going against the markets.
  • Mike Smithson

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