A SIGNIFICANT number of Scots want another independence referendum within the next five years but the outcome would be split, according to new data from a recent poll on voting intentions for the Scottish Parliament.
The Savanta Com Res poll for The Scotsman reported on Thursday that Scotland is most likely to vote for a pro-independence majority in May, with the SNP getting 64 MSPs and the Scottish Greens receiving a record 10 seats.
It also found that voters are equally split on the outcome of an independence referendum with 50% backing Yes and No when Don’t Knows are discounted.
However, new data from the survey of 1007 Scottish adults aged 16 or above shows the number of people that want to see another referendum within the next parliamentary term is firmly in the majority.
Of those polled between April 2 and 7, some 38% want to see another vote within the next two years and a majority of Scots (53%) believe it should take place with five years or even sooner.
Just 22% of voters never want to see another vote and one in nine say it should take place in more than 10 years.
An SNP spokesman said: “The Westminster parties know there is going to be an independence referendum, when the threat posed by Covid has passed, if people in Scotland vote for one.
“Trying to deny that democratic reality is quite simply an unsustainable position.
“A simple majority is all that is ever needed for a democratic mandate to exist – but the only safe way to deliver that referendum is by re-electing Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and giving both votes to the SNP in May.”
Respondents to the survey were also asked to pick their three “most important issues facing Scotland” from a list of options.
The economy came out as the most important issue for respondents with half picking it, health was second on 45%, and employment and welfare came third on 35% of Scots.
Education (31%) and Brexit (25%) both came ahead of independence (19%) as the next most-picked choices for Scots. It was followed by housing (16%) and the environment (17%).
This is the first time fewer than one in five voters have viewed independence as one of the top issues in Scotland.
In terms of the “best mandate” for another referendum, most Scots believe an SNP majority to be the best method with 27%, followed by an SNP and Scottish Green coalition (14%).
Another 9% believe a minority SNP government would be the best mandate for a referendum, 7% said it would be an Alba/SNP coalition and 6% of Scots think the Greens being included would be the best mandate.
Alex Salmond‘s Alba Party did not fare too well in the results released on Thursday with just 3% of respondents supporting the new pro-indy party nationally. However, the results do not reflect regional variation in support.
Around 4% of those who will vote SNP in the constituency ballot next month will support Alba on the list, while 6% of 2016 SNP voters will support Alba.
Analysis of the poll projects that if all Alba voters reverted back to the SNP, the party would have a majority of three MSPs.
Meanwhile, political scientist and polling expert Professor John Curtice (below) suggests the fallout from the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s investigation of harassment complaints made against Salmond appears to have had no impact on the SNP’s constituency support. Backing for independence has only dropped by 1% on average since the winter.
He added that there is “no more than mixed evidence” that the saga surrounding Salmond and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has affected her personal approval ratings.
Writing for the What Scotland Thinks website, Curtice said: “In truth, it looks as though that not only were the opposition’s hopes of bringing the First Minister down over the Salmond affair not realised, but also that the row has done little if any damage to the popularity of the nationalist movement in general or that of its principal spokesperson in particular.
“It is perhaps not surprising that an issue that some thought might dominate the election campaign now seems to have fallen off the political agenda entirely.”
Curtice added that early polls for Salmond’s return to frontline politics “have not been encouraging”.
“At the moment, even if he does manage to secure election to Holyrood, the former First Minister is at risk of finding himself a lone figure in the new chamber,” he wrote.
Explaining Alba’s struggles, Curtice said “relatively few nationalist supporters appear to believe that Mr Salmond’s intervention is helpful to the pursuit of independence”, while the former First Minister himself is decribed as “deeply unpopular”.