SNP leadership candidates Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes have roughly equal support among party voters, the latest poll on the contest has found.

Ash Regan, Yousaf and Forbes are vying to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and first minister, with her successor set to be announced at the end of March.

SNP members will determine who takes on the top job, with limited polling available to reflect how they might cast their votes.

The only polling of SNP members so far has suggested that Yousaf is in the lead by a few points, but among the general public Forbes has better approval ratings.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes and Ash Regan call out 'serial hustings attendees'

The National:

The latest survey, commissioned by Channel 4 News ahead of its leadership debate on Thursday night, puts Yousaf on 33% and Forbes on 32% when SNP voters were asked who would make the best first minister. Regan is on 10%.

Reacting to the poll, Yousaf said the results showed “momentum is firmly behind” his campaign and that it was “great to see more and more members of our SNP family are putting their trust in me as the voters’ choice”.

He added: "Our party needs a leader who will stand up to grubby Westminster power
grabs and help to grow support in our independence movement to sustained majority levels. I am that leader.

"Today's poll is another boost to my message of positivity, unity and
strength. I'm the only candidate who has seen support and momentum grow each day as we approach ballots opening on Monday where I hope SNP members will make me their first choice for First Minister.

"I'm looking forward to tonight's TV debate and to the rest of the campaign."

The National:

Among the wider public, the Ipsos Scotland poll puts Forbes eight points ahead of Yousaf on the same question.

In a post on social media, the Finance Secretary said: “SNP members need a leader who can win over the public, progress plans for independence and stand up to the UK Government. Today’s polling proves that I lead the candidates on all three fronts.”

Forbes added that she was the “only candidate with positive net ratings from the public” and pointed to the fact she beat Tory and Labour leaders in this regard despite them “being in the public eye for much longer”.

Forbes continued to say that she was “most trusted to stand up for Scotland’s interests” and that she was “more likely to deliver independence than any of the other candidates”.

One in three say either none of the candidates would make the best FM or that they don’t know.

Following the results, MSP Jim Fairlie said at First Minister's Questions: “The recent polling shows that only Kate can win the public vote. The wider electorate views Kate as a trusted and talented leader with a track record of delivery.

“It is no wonder that the opposition party leaders are running scared – which we saw at First Minister’s Questions.

“It is the SNP membership who will elect a new party leader – and they will want to elect an election-winner.

“Kate will not take a single vote for granted, and she will continue to make the case that she is the strongest candidate to deliver independence for Scotland.”