The SNP could miss out on a majority at the Holyrood election, according to a new poll.
The Savanta ComRes survey for The Scotsman predicts the party will return 63 MSPs – two short of a majority and the same number as in 2016.
However there would still be a pro-independence majority at Holyrood, with the Scottish Greens forecast to return eight MSPs, two more than in 2016, and secure 7% of the list vote.
Only 1% of voters said they plan to vote for Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, which would leave it without a single MSP.
The poll projects the SNP will return a constituency vote of 46% and a list vote of 38% on May 6.
It predicts the Scottish Conservatives will achieve 25% of the constituency vote and 23% of the regional list, which would see it return 32 MSPs – one more than in 2016.
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Scottish Labour is forecast to return 20% on the constituency and 17% on the list vote and is predicted to return 21 MSPs, three fewer than in 2016.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are predicted to return five MSPs, the same number as in 2016, with 6% of the constituency and 5% of the list vote.
The poll of 1,001 Scottish adults also found that support for Scottish independence is split, though support for No has increased since a survey at the start of April.
The latest poll found 48% would vote No in an independence referendum, while 44% would vote Yes, with the remainder undecided.
When “don’t knows” are excluded, 52% support No and 48% said they would vote Yes.
A survey at the start of April found that if an independence referendum was held tomorrow, 45% would vote Yes and the same proportion No, with the remainder undecided.
The latest poll was carried out between April 16 and 20.
Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta ComRes, said: “These latest figures show the SNP potentially missing out on a majority, but there are still plenty of routes for them to get one.
“While ‘both votes SNP’ has never made the most of the SNP’s dominance, increasing their vote on the list could top up the seats they need, but they’d require a sizeable shift in their favour from these latest figures.
“Instead, squeezing the soft Labour constituency vote in seats in south Scotland, for example, could help them overtake the Conservatives and give the SNP the majority they crave.
“That could be easier said than done, though; with the Conservatives up in this poll, and a healthy proportion of Labour voters more likely to trust the Conservatives than their own party to protect the union, the Conservatives will also be trying to squeeze Labour in an attempt to hold off an SNP challenge.”
Meanwhile, a separate poll for the Times found support for Scottish independence at its lowest level in more than a year.
Excluding undecided voters, 47% want Scotland to be an independent country – a fall of two percentage points on the previous YouGov survey in early March – while 53% do not.
Only 34% agree with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon that there should be another referendum before the end of 2023, while 49% oppose the suggestion.
There is greater support for a referendum to be held in the next five years, with 44% in favour, 40% opposed and 16% unsure.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, said: “These latest polls confirm the recent trend of rising support for remaining in the UK, with the successful UK vaccination programme and UK-wide support for jobs and businesses reminding us that we are stronger together.
“This should send a message to the SNP to stop prioritising division ahead of the issues that really matter to people – Covid recovery, NHS and social care, and jobs.”
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