LABOUR and Tories in Scotland could face an exodus of voters to the SNP in May’s election, new figures suggest.

A Savanta ComRes poll, carried out for the Scotsman, shows significant a proportion of Scots are reconsidering their voting intention based on the SNP government’s response to the pandemic.

It comes amid ever-increasing admiration for Nicola Sturgeon among backers of all the main parties.

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The survey – the 18th in a row to record majority support for independence – found more than a third of 2019 Labour voters are now more likely to vote for the SNP in May because of the SNP’s response to the pandemic. A further 13% of Tory voters said likewise.

This is in contrast to just 14% of 2019 SNP voters who say they’re more likely to vote Labour in May, and just 8% of 2019 SNP voters who are more likely to vote Conservative.

The results were similarly encouraging for the First Minister personally.

Almost half (46%) of 2019 Labour voters said their impression of Nicola Sturgeon has improved since the pandemic began due to her management of it, while a third (36%) of 2019 Conservative voters said the same.

Impressions of the First Minister’s personal characteristics, such as whether she appears intelligent (76%, up 3pts), strong (74%, up 3 pts) and genuine (57%, up 2 pts), continue to rise. Those of her opponents Douglas Ross and Richard Leonard, meanwhile, remained virtually static.

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The Savanta ComRes research on Holyrood constituency voting intention shows more than half of likely voters will choose the SNP (53%) in May, with 19% opting for the Tories and 18% for Labour.

Data on the regional list voting shows Labour (18%) moving ahead of the Conservatives (16%) into second place, with the SNP comfortable in the lead on 44%.

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Savanta ComRes research director Chris Hopkins said it seems the sky’s the limit for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

He commented: “What appears most interesting here is that the ceiling for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP could be even higher than the already-strong figures in the headline voting intention. Our data shows that Sturgeon’s management of the pandemic has improved her reputation among significant chunks of 2019 Labour and Conservative voters, and the SNP’s response to the crisis has led recent Labour voters to consider the SNP in May.

“Despite this, the state of the parties in Scotland looks much the same this month as it did last, and perhaps that’s a reflection of the fact that while the pandemic continues to dominate the news agenda, there is little time for the usual overt pre-election electioneering.”

He added: “There are some slightly improved numbers here for Labour, but that looks primarily down to Keir Starmer, as metrics relating to Scottish Labour and Richard Leonard have barely shifted. Holding onto the voters that appear to be flirting with the SNP, impressed by their response and their leader’s management of the pandemic, will be imperative if Labour hope to order to beat the Conservatives into second place.”