This is a Holyrood election like never before.

It is taking place during a pandemic, over a quarter of voters are planning to vote by post, and Alex Salmond is attempting to return from the political wilderness.

In this fast-changing context, here are three key trends that Ipsos MORI and STV News’ latest Scottish Political Monitor indicates we should look out for.

1. The SNP looks on course for a majority, but there are some warning signs for the party.

The SNP is still in a very strong position on the constituency vote. Our latest poll puts the party on 53% of the vote, 23 points clear of the Scottish Conservatives who have the next largest share of the vote.

If the party’s showing is this strong on polling day it will be set to win a majority of seats at Holyrood.

READ MORE: Pro-independence supermajority 'within reach' despite Alba set to flop

So far so good for Nicola Sturgeon’s party. However, there are also signs in our poll that will make worrying reading for the SNP.

Chief among these is that the party’s share of the regional vote has dropped from 47% in February to 38% now. Moreover, a third of those who currently say they will vote SNP on the regional vote have not made up their minds for definite - an indication to other pro-independence parties that current SNP list voters can still be won over.

There has been a fall in public trust in the SNP to deal effectively with certain key issues, such as standing up for Scotland, tackling inequality and managing education and schools – down by 5 points, 4 points and 4 points respectively since Ipsos MORI last measured this in November 2020.

Whilst the party is still in an enviable position – it remains the most trusted of the three largest parties to handle a range of issues facing Scotland, and voters rate Nicola Sturgeon the highest of any of the party leaders – this may nonetheless be a sign that some of the shine is coming off the SNP after almost 14 years in government.

2. There is still everything to play for on the regional vote

The party whose fortunes have improved most since our last poll are the Greens. 12% of voters now say they will vote for the party on the regional list, up from 8% in February.

There has been much speculation about the impact that the Alba Party will have on the SNP’s share of the regional vote.

Our poll finds that 72% of SNP voters say they plan to cast ‘both votes SNP’, while 28% plan to vote for a different party on the regional list. However, most of these ‘first vote SNP’ voters plan to vote for the Greens on the list, with only small minorities saying they will use their second vote for Labour or the Alba Party.

In spite of the recent sound and fury, Alex Salmond’s Alba Party have so far failed to convince the Scottish electorate to support the party with their regional vote. Our poll puts Alba at just 3% of the list vote, which would not be enough to return any MSPs.

READ MORE: New poll shows independence question not going away as Greens surge forecast

At present it looks as though Scotland may indeed return a ‘supermajority’ of pro-independence MSPs – but from the SNP and the Greens rather than due to any contribution from the Alba Party.

A month out from polling day though the Alba Party still has much to play for. If the party manages to boost its support in key regions such as North East Scotland over the course of the campaign, that could be enough for one or more Alba MSPs to be elected – potentially including Alex Salmond.

3. Labour could pip the Conservatives to second place

Voters certainly think more highly of Scottish Labour under Anas Sarwar so far than they did under Richard Leonard.

The Scottish public’s trust in the party to handle a range of key issues facing Scotland has jumped since last November – from tackling inequality in Scotland (up 12 percentage points) and responding to the coronavirus crisis (up 12 percentage points) through to managing education and schools (up 11 points) and the NHS (up 10 points).

Sarwar himself is also rated highly by voters, with 46% saying they are satisfied with him, a result which may relate to his performance in the first leader debate. A third don’t feel they know enough to rate him, however, which indicates there is still more for him to do to raise his profile among the electorate.

Whether this is a honeymoon period or not is too early to tell. Certainly these more positive views of Scottish Labour have not so far brought about a jump in the party’s share of the vote. Labour are still two points behind Douglas Ross’ Scottish Conservatives on the constituency vote and three points behind on the regional vote.

It would be a strong showing for Labour if they could beat the Conservatives to become the second-placed party. However, Sarwar has limited time in which to persuade voters to change their minds.

And at an election where voters tell us independence is the number one issue that is very important in helping them decide which party to vote for, the lack of a clear position on independence may hamper Labour’s electoral fortunes. But if there is one thing the events of recent weeks have reminded us of it is that Scottish politics can be volatile.

By Emily Gray, Managing Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland