EXCLUSIVE SCOT GOES POP / PANELBASE POLL: The three pro-independence parties are on course to take 51% of the local election vote between them, with the SNP set for a record-breaking landslide

Earlier this evening I received the results of the new crowdfunded Scot Goes Pop poll, which has once again been conducted by Panelbase, a firm which is a member of (and follows the rules of) the British Polling Council.  As time is a bit short to get very much out tonight, I’m just going to give you a little appetiser for now, and I thought I’d begin with first preference voting intentions for next year’s local council elections.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I’m aware this is the first proper voting intention poll for that set of elections from any polling firm, which makes the results particularly interesting.
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (a representative sample of 1001 over-16s in Scotland was interviewed by Panelbase between 20th and 26th October 2021)
Scottish local council elections first preference voting intentions:

SNP 45%

Conservatives 22%

Labour 21%
Liberal Democrats 6%
Greens 4%

Alba 2%
Based on what has happened in previous years, the SNP’s high vote share should perhaps be treated with caution – they often tend to do a bit less well than expected in local elections.  Presumably that’s partly because of the widespread intervention of independent candidates, and partly because of local factors, including the personal popularity of individual Tory and Labour councillors.  I seem to recall John Curtice confidently predicting, at a very late stage, that the SNP would take around 40% of the vote in the 2017 local elections, which he thought would be a somewhat underwhelming result.  In fact they only took 32%, which was unchanged from five years previously.  So, yes, if this new poll can be taken at face value, the SNP would be making an enormous 13% jump, which would undoubtedly win them a huge number of new councillors, and would probably see them seize outright majority control of certain councils – in spite of the STV voting system making that incredibly hard to achieve.
The Tories’ share of the vote is three points down on what they achieved in 2017, while Labour are a trivial one point up, and the Lib Dems an equally trivial one point down.  The health warning that has to be put on the Greens’ 4% share is that they traditionally haven’t stood in all that many wards, so a significant proportion of the electorate may not even have the chance to vote for them.
As for Alba’s 2% showing, that can be viewed in a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty sort of way. (Of course I have to declare a special interest at this point, because I’m an Alba member and was recently elected to the party’s National Executive Committee.) As a completely ‘new entry’ Alba may be satisfied that they’re actually registering support and are not all that far behind longer established parties like the Greens and the Lib Dems.  On 2% there clearly needs to be a degree of realism about their prospects next May, but they start with the big advantage of already having a significant number of incumbent councillors.  Capitalising on those people’s personal vote and getting some or all of them re-elected is far from an impossible goal, even on a relatively modest share of the national vote.  And if that’s achieved, priceless electoral credibility will follow.
It’s worth noting, incidentally, that the three pro-independence parties in combination have 51% of the popular vote.
The poll also asked a second voting intention question about the local elections.  Because a preferential voting system will be used, in which voters can rank as many or as few candidates as they like, the poll asked respondents to list all of the parties they will be giving a preference to.  The results on that question will be of particular interest to Alba, who have never stood in an STV election before, and therefore have no idea how many transfers they can expect from other pro-indy parties.  I’ll be releasing those results in a future blogpost.
FUNDRAISER: If you think it’s a good thing that not all public opinion polls are commissioned by anti-independence clients, please consider donating to the new Scot Goes Pop polling fundraiser – that will ensure that I’m not out of pocket for running this new poll, and will also allow me to commission another poll over the coming months.  To donate, please click HERE, or to read about why it’s so important for the pro-independence movement to occasionally crowdfund our own polls, click HERE.