Researchers said the increased lead for Labour was due “to the weakening connection between support for Scottish independence and support for the SNP”.
In a blow for Humza Yousaf’s party, the study found the SNP currently command the support of just 53% of people who said they would vote Yes in a second independence referendum.
This figure represents a large decline from previous Westminster and Holyrood elections when this number regularly exceeded 80%, according to previous SES data.
In further bad news for the party, the study also found that just 55% of respondents who voted SNP at the last general election in 2019 indicated they would vote for the party again.
However, the poll found the Conservatives faring even worse on this metric with the party keeping just 48% of their 2019 voters in Scotland.
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Labour, meanwhile, were found to be picking up 18% of 2019 Conservative voters, 21% of SNP voters and 38% of Lib Dem voters while retaining the backing of 75% of their own prior supporters.
Researchers conducted the poll from October 20 to 25 – after all main parties had held their annual conferences – and found that 66% of voting-age adults in Scotland expect Labour to win the next general election.
In better news for the SNP, the party maintains a slight edge over Labour in vote intention for the constituency ballot at the next Holyrood election (35% versus 32% for Labour with undecideds removed).
It also found more Scots have now formed an opinion of First Minister Humza Yousaf after six months in the post.
Just 8% of respondents declined to offer an opinion on the SNP leader when asked to do so on scale from “strongly dislike” (0) to “strongly like” (10), down from 16% in June, and this did not lead to an appreciable decrease in his overall standing among voters.
But the poll found the First Minister still marginally trails chief rival Anas Sarwar overall (mean rating 4.0 vs. 4.3 out of 10). UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recorded a similar score to the Scottish Labour leader with 4.2, while Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sit on 2.7 and 2.6 respectively.
The poll also found that 43% of Scots now believe the country is headed in the “wrong direction”, while just 23% believe the country is headed in the “right direction”. Voters have become increasingly pessimistic over the past year.
The Scoop poll in November 2022 had these numbers at 39% wrong direction and 31% right direction.
Assessments of devolved and UK government performance continue to decline.
The SNP-led devolved government receives a net rating of –20 when respondents assess whether they have done a good job or bad job since winning the last election. Voters are not nearly as harsh on the SNP as they are on the Conservative government at Westminster, however, with the UK administration rated at –68 when “bad” ratings are subtracted from “good”.
Looking ahead to the next UK election, the survey asked voters about why they were currently supporting their chosen party. The largest proportion identified “This party has the best policies” (37%), with figures ranging from 30% for those planning to vote for the Lib Dems to 47% among those planning to vote for the SNP. The second most popular reason was a desire to cast a tactical ballot to stop another party from winning, at 21%.
SES researcher Dr Fraser McMillan said: “The data reinforce the impression we’ve been getting for most of this year that Scottish voters are ready to punish the SNP and the Conservatives, with both parties having spent a long time in power at Holyrood and Westminster respectively.
“Labour are currently attracting voters from all the other major parties and picking up around 20% of Yes supporters in Westminster vote intention.
“The SNP’s dominance over the last decade has been built on monopolising pro-indy Scots but they’re finally seeing some of that support drift away.”
Professor Ailsa Henderson, Principal Investigator for the Scottish Election Study added: “There is an incredible amount of volatility in the results, with SNP support down among previous SNP voters and Yes supporters, but equivalent changes at the other end of the partisan spectrum affecting the Conservative party.
“It also appears that voters are making different calculations for Westminster and Holyrood elections and the two are no longer moving in lock step. What is less clear is whether the Westminster results are changing more because that election is closer – which might mean this is a sign of things to come – or whether it’s a return to two different political worlds.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This latest poll shows that the people of Scotland are sick and tired with SNP and Tory failure and are looking to Scottish Labour to deliver the change they need.
“It’s clear that the SNP and the Tories represent the politics of the past and of division.
“In place of SNP and Tory failure, Scottish Labour will transform Scotland into a clean energy superpower, restore our NHS and make work pay for thousands of Scots. Scottish Labour is ready to deliver the change that Scotland needs – join us on that journey.”
The Scottish Election Study runs its Scoop survey every four months with a representative sample of approximately 1,200 Scots.