Could Scottish seats prevent a hung parliament after latest polls?
Just when you thought it was safe to assume that majority Government was back to stay in the UK, a new poll puts everything commentators thought they knew about this election in doubt.
Today’s Times front page would have had previously relaxed Tory politicians choking on their Cornflakes this morning.
A shock new poll for the right-leaning newspaper undertaken by Yougov shows that Theresa May’s party would actually lose 20 seats.
That leaves them on 310 MPs, some 16 votes short of an overall majority, and leaving them reliant on help from the Lib Dems, or more preferably, the Ulster Unionists.
Yougov based their model on 50,000 interviews with voters, although the company admits that a large margin of error is possible.
One interesting side note for Scottish parties is that the model sees the SNP on 50 MPs, down from 56 at the last election, though losing only six seats isn’t as bad as some party sources predict.
With that in mind, Conservatives could expect a better night in Scotland than the Yougov model allows.
We look at how the poll fits in to the wider picture, and whether Scotland’s MPs really could prevent another hung parliament.
You might be forgiven for thinking: “Hang on, didn’t the polls make a complete mess of predicting the last election, Trump, and Brexit?”
That’s not unreasonable, although the Yougov model is different from a traditional poll in that it involves seeking data constituency by constituency.
This negates some of the problems with sample polls of around 1,000 voters across the country, with headline percentages then extrapolated to the 650 seats that make up the House of Commons.
Yougov defended their poll, with Stephan Shakespeare of the company saying their model was tested in advance of last year’s Brexit referendum and that they always had Leave ahead.
He did note, however, that the data was collected over a week and that only a slight fluctuation could see Theresa May returned to 10 Downing Street with the comfortable majority she craves.
Certainly not two words that can be used to describe Theresa May’s nascent campaign, with a relaunch on Monday shocking many with a deliberate toning down of the Prime Minister’s presidential approach.
The Tory revival is in fact in Scotland, where Ruth Davidson has overseen a remarkable turnaround in the party’s fortunes, coming second in the Holyrood election last year and denying the SNP an overall majority.
Ms Davidson’s campaign team might have oversold it slightly when they told journalists that they had a chance of winning 15 seats at the election on June 8, though gains for the party in Scotland do seem inevitable.
Those type of figures, combined with the support from Ulster Unionists, would give Mrs May a working majority.
Some SNP MPs face incredibly tough fights to be re-elected, including their Westminster leader Angus Robertson in Moray.
With Yougov’s model giving the SNP 50 MPs, and assuming that the Lib Dems and Labour keep their sole Scottish seats, that means Ruth Davidson’s party is expected to only pick up three more seats.
That seems a little short given their recent performances in other polls and look elections.
Or does it? A new poll for STV by leading pollster Ipsos-Mori could show that the Yougov model was far from an outlier.
That poll has the SNP on 43 per cent of the vote, down from the high watermark of 50 at the last General Election.
Labour and the Tories, according to the poll, are both on 25 per cent, and the Lib Dems are a long way back on just five.
Through the Scotland votes model of predicting seats, the SNP would actually get 51, with the Tories again gaining ‘only’ three seats.
If Theresa May was nervous about the possibility of a hung parliament, and unsure of the Tories making sweeping gains in England, she may have previously been reassured by the gains her party was set to make North of the Border.
Despite the controversy of the Yougov model, which is already being written off by many, the polling picture in Scotland now does seem to suggest those gains by Ruth Davidson’s party will be far more modest.
Mrs May might not not be able to count on a cohort of a dozen Scottish Tories to put the cherry on top of their recent revival and put her over the line.
A hung parliament still remains a distant prospect, but stranger things have happened.