Leadership poll of SNP voters reveals Kate Forbes as frontrunner

Kate Forbes

AS the deadline for nominations in the SNP leadership election approaches, a new opinion poll of SNP voters sheds light on their preferences and priorities.

Commissioned by The BIG Partnership – Scotland’s largest integrated communications agency – the poll of over 1,001 Scottish adults who voted SNP at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election was conducted between Monday 20th February – Wednesday 22ndFebruary, after all three candidates had declared their bids. The opinion poll will be published by the BIG Partnership as part of a forthcoming Guide to the SNP Leadership Contest, designed to help Scottish business understand the dynamics of the leadership election and the implications for politics and public policy in Scotland.

  • Most SNP voters surveyed (31%) don’t yet know who they will back. But of those declared, Kate Forbes leads the pack (28%), followed by Humza Yousaf (20%), and Ash Regan (7%).
  • Most SNP voters surveyed (61%) want to see a referendum on Scottish independence at some point within the next 2 years, and three quarters of SNP voters (75%) want to see a referendum within the next 5 years.
  • When asked about the different views and characteristics that are most important for a new SNP leader, most SNP voters surveyed think it’s important for the new leader to have a plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis (58%), grow Scotland’s economy (53%), and improve health, education and other public services (53%). Only 5% of SNP voters think the new leader’s faith or personal beliefs are important.
  • SNP voters surveyed think the cost-of-living crisis (65%) and the NHS (58%) are top priorities for the new SNP leader, followed by the economy and jobs (31%) and Scottish independence (30%).
  • Support for the SNP among its 2021 voters remains strong, with only 12% of SNP voters surveyed indicating they are somewhat or very unlikely to vote SNP on their second vote now that Nicola Sturgeon is no longer SNP leader.

Commenting on the results, Paul Robertson, Head of Public Affairs at The BIG Partnership, said:

“Our landmark poll suggests that the focus of the leadership election so far does not reflect the priorities of SNP supporters, many of whom may have a vote in this leadership election.

“Our poll indicates that SNP voters want to judge the candidates on their plans for the bread-and-butter issues of government – tackling the cost-of-living crisis, growing the economy and improving public services. These are the issues which our poll shows SNP voters think are most important, whilst questions of faith and personal belief, which have dominated the headlines, are relatively unimportant for those choosing the new leader.

“Neither is it surprising to see SNP voters impatient for a referendum – almost three quarters want a new referendum in the next two years. But when considering the top priorities for a new First Minister, SNP voters seem to acknowledge that it is current issues like the health service, the cost-of-living, and the economy that should come first. This poses a challenge for leadership contenders who will be expected to have a clear plan to deliver a referendum, whilst also demonstrating they can address these key issues of government.”

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