The exclusive poll, by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, has support for Yes at its lowest level since just before the 2019 general election, which saw Boris Johnson’s Conservative party earn an overwhelming majority in Westminster.
Should a second independence referendum be held tomorrow, just 42 per cent of voters would vote Yes, with 49 per cent of Scots backing No and a further 8 per cent undecided.
With don’t knows excluded, this would see No winning indyref2 with a similar margin to the original vote in 2014, with 54 per cent of the vote to Yes’s 46 per cent.
The survey interviewed 1,001 Scottish adults aged 16 or over between April 23 and April 27.
The poll is further bad news for a stuttering SNP election campaign that began with high hopes of an overall majority following the vote due to take a place a week today across Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party is set to lose two seats when compared with 2016 and be four short of a majority, according to the survey, once the results are projected into seats.
Such a result would be an overwhelming victory over the SNP’s main rivals the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour and would likely deliver a pro-independence majority with support from the Scottish Greens.
However, this poll is another that indicates dropping support in Scottish independence, with recent polls suggesting the question is now a dead heat between Yes and No.
While the changes are within the margin of error, with Yes support dropping two points and No rising by two points, it is the worst polling for the independence movement since a YouGov poll on December 3, 2019.
Following the election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in the general election a few days later from that poll, support for Yes reached a peak of 58 per cent during the pandemic.
This is the fourth poll to put support for the union ahead of independence following the publication of surveys by Survation, YouGov and the previous Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman.
Demands for a second independence referendum are likely to intensify regardless of these numbers, however, with pro-independence parties set for a controlling majority in Holyrood, the poll shows.
While SNP support is lower in both the constituency vote, down one point to 45 per cent, and the regional list, down two points to 36 per cent, the party is still expected to be the dominant force in the Scottish Parliament with 61 seats – two down on its 2016 result.
Douglas Ross’s Scottish Conservatives are down when compared to last week’s equivalent poll, but are still comfortably in second place ahead of Scottish Labour.
The pro-union party is set to see 23 per cent of voters back them on the constituency list, down two points from the previous Savanta ComRes poll, with 22 per cent of voters backing the party on the list, down one point.
Such a result would see Mr Ross sent to Holyrood as leader with a total of 28 MSPs, down three from their result of 31 under Ruth Davidson.
Scottish Labour are the most improved party in the constituency vote, with 23 per cent of voters saying they would back the party, up three points from the previous poll.
This, alongside a higher regional list voting intention of 19 per cent, up two points, would see new leader Anas Sarwar returned to Holyrood with 24 MSPs – exactly the same number as in 2016.
His party’s rise in the poll could be a reflection of the new leader’s encouraging approval ratings, with the Glasgow MSP the second most popular party leader with a net favourability rating of +9, below Ms Sturgeon on +16, but well ahead of main rival Mr Ross on -15.
Should the result after May 6 match this poll, the Scottish Greens will see their record result at any Holyrood election with 10 per cent of the regional list vote, up three points from the last Savanta ComRes poll.
Such a result would see the party return 11 MSPs, up from the six elected in 2016.
It would also be enough for a clear pro-independence majority in Holyrood, though would fall short of a two-thirds ‘super-majority’ of 86 MSPs.
Support for Alex Salmond’s Alba party is at just 2 per cent of the regional list, up one point, with the former first minister failing to be elected back to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are set to re-elect five MSPs, with 7 per cent of the constituency vote (up one point) and 5 per cent of the regional list vote (no change).
Chris Hopkins, associate director at Savanta ComRes said the trend in the polls were clear and could show the unionist parties had successfully appealed to their core voters.
He said: “The direction of travel has been clear in the last few polls, with support for both independence and the SNP dropping ahead of the May elections. What this is down to remains unclear.
"The SNP’s appeared to ride negative headlines in the early part of the year, so it’s unlikely that the party itself has just gotten more unpopular all of the sudden.
"Instead, it seems that the two major unionist parties, the Conservatives and Labour, have somewhat – but by no means completely – got their act together, and are at least doing a better job now at retaining their core vote, rather than leaking it to Yes and the SNP.
"This, coupled with a potentially more fragmented pro-independence List vote, more so from the Greens than from the ever-unpopular Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, means the SNP may fall short of their majority and not give Nicola Sturgeon the unequivocal mandate for a second independence vote.”