Burning questions for tomorrow – and a few tentative answers

Will the SNP remain the largest single party?

Yes.

Will Nicola Sturgeon remain First Minister?

Yes.

Will Labour suffer a net loss of seats?

Highly likely, barring very significant polling error or an implausible late swing.  But it should be remembered that they only took 26% of the all-important list vote in 2011, so their losses may not be all that dramatic if the more Labour-friendly polls are closest to the mark.  The most recent Panelbase poll has them on 22% of the list vote.

Who will finish second?

Probably Labour, but it’s too close to call and the Tories are in with a shout.

Who will finish fourth?

Too close to call between the Greens and the Lib Dems.  The polling average favours the Greens, but not by much, and we know that polls have significantly overestimated the Greens in previous elections.  The fact that the Greens are virtually a list-only party may also prove a disadvantage – it’s not inconceivable, for example, that the Lib Dems could get one more seat in the Highlands than the d’Hondt formula warrants if they hold onto both constituency seats in the Northern Isles.

Will RISE win a seat?

Highly unlikely.  No poll to date has shown the slightest scrap of evidence that they are in contention for seats.  However, there is one previous example of a fringe party winning a seat against all the odds (the Scottish Senior Citizens’ Unity Party in 2003), so it can’t be ruled out entirely.

Will Solidarity win a seat?

Probably not, but they arguably have a better chance than RISE, simply because of Tommy Sheridan’s personal popularity in Glasgow.  Their description on the ballot paper will apparently contain the words “Tommy Sheridan” and “Indyref2”, and you can see how that might catch a few eyes.

Will the SNP win a second overall majority?

Probably, but the chances of them failing to do so are higher than is generally realised.  Some projections based on recent polls have had them below 70 seats, which doesn’t leave much margin for error if there is a small late swing against the party, or if the polls aren’t entirely accurate.  It’s perfectly possible we could wake up on Friday morning with an almighty hangover, and be left wondering how exactly we let this one get away.

Will there be a pro-independence majority?

Very likely, but not certain.  The votes should be there for it even if the SNP themselves fall slightly short, but the biggest risk would be misguided “tactical” switching on the list to either RISE or Solidarity – because any such votes would in all probability be totally wasted.

Will the SNP win at least some list seats?

Highly likely.  I’ve yet to see a plausible scenario in which they take zero list seats – and of course they may take well over ten if they do just slightly less well in the constituency ballot than the polls currently suggest.

Will Kezia Dugdale have resigned as Labour leader by the weekend?

The odd thing is that if the answer to that question is “no”, Kezia probably already knows it.  There isn’t going to be the same pressure on her that Jim Murphy faced one year ago. because another crushing defeat won’t cause quite such an emotional spasm within the party, and she isn’t as hated as Murphy anyway.   If she goes, it’ll probably be because she makes a personal decision that it’s the decent thing to do, as Tavish Scott did five years ago at a time when nobody was really blaming him for the Lib Dems’ losses.  The big question is what sort of scale of defeat might tip her over the edge.

Will the Conservatives have a successful election? 

YES.  The actual result doesn’t matter – however well or badly they do, it’ll be a continuation of the Scottish Tory renaissance, and will be a personal vindication for their tremendously popular young leader Ruth Davidson.  Read the forthcoming post-election columns from Fraser Nelson, Alex Massie, Alan Cochrane and Chris Deerin if you don’t believe me.

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As it’s Election Eve, one last punt for the video I recorded for Phantom Power about how the voting system works, and why tactical voting on the list ballot is so risky.  Feel free to share it on social media if you know anyone who might find it helpful – the direct link on YouTube is HERE.

James Kelly blogs at Scot Goes Pop, where this post originally appeared.

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