However, the TNS survey also found only modest levels of satisfaction with the SNP’s performance in government, with no more than a third of voters believing the Nationalists had done well in four key policy areas.
The survey of 1062 over-16s found 62 per cent planned to vote SNP in the constituency section of the ballot in the Holyrood election.
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The figure was up two per cent compared with TNS’s previous poll.
They were ahead of Labour on 20 per cent (unchanged); the Conservatives on 12 per cent (down two points) and the Lib Dem on three per cent (also down two).
There were similar minor changes in party support in the regional list vote, with the SNP on 54 per cent (up three points), Labour on 20 per cent (down one), the Conservatives on 12 per cent (down one1), the Greens on eight per cent (up one) and Liberal Democrats on four per cent (down one).
However, respondents delivered a mixed verdict on the SNP government’s record on four key policy areas over the past 12 months, with only between a quarter and a third rating its performance as good.
On the NHS and on crime and justice, 29 per cent of adults said the SNP administration had performed poorly – including a quarter of the SNP’s own supporters.
Among all adults, the government’s ratings were:
§ The economy: Good 25 per cent, Poor 24 per cent, Neither 45 per cent.
§ The NHS: Good 34 per cent, Poor 29 per cent, Neither 33 per cent.
§ Education: Good 30 per cent, Poor 19 per cent, Neither 40 per cent.
§ Crime and Justice: Good 23 per cent, Poor 29 per cent, Neither 40 per cent.
Tom Costley, Head of TNS Scotland, said: “It is interesting that the SNP has such a strong lead in voting intentions for the Scottish parliament while only a third or fewer of voters view its performance in the past year in a positive light.
“This poll suggests that the opposition parties may find voters ready to listen to their alternative policies, although with Labour still engaged in leadership elections at Scottish and UK level, the SNP’s chief rival in Scotland is not yet ready to present a programme to the electorate.
“The SNP’s position may be largely due to the positive mood surrounding its strong performance in the referendum and general election. But there has been extensive media reporting of problems on devolved issues, especially in the NHS and around the new unified Police Scotland.
“The SNP now has an opportunity to build the case for its record in government before the Holyrood election campaign gets properly under way towards the end of this year.”
According to the widely-used ScotlandVotes online seat predictor, the SNP would emerge with 78 of Holyrood’s 129 MSPs, nine more than at present.
Labour would win 25 seats – all from the regional lists – down from 37 at present, while the Conservatives would maintain their tally of 15 seats.
The Lib Dems would win two seats (down from five) and be overtaken by the Greens, who are on course to take nine seats, up from two.
The SNP would win all but two of Holyrood’s 73 constituency seats. ScotlandVotes suggests the Lib Dems would hold Shetland and the Tories would hold Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire in the Borders.