We are now one rain-soaked announcement, two weeks, and four televised debates into the 2024 General Election campaign. What do the polls tell us about the state of the parties – and the likelihood of their being able to persuade voters to switch votes in the four weeks before July 4?

At a UK-wide level, the gap between Labour and the Conservatives has remained stubbornly wide – our latest Ipsos UK poll put it at 20 percentage points – in spite of predictions from many quarters that it would narrow once campaigning started. However, in Scotland, things look quite different. Our most recent Ipsos Scotland poll has Labour and the SNP neck and neck, each with the support of 36% of likely voters. The Conservatives are trailing on 13%, with the Liberal Democrats on 5% and Reform on 4% (in contrast with recent UK-wide polls that estimate support for Reform at between 9% and 17%).

Perhaps the most accurate way of describing the current state of the Scottish polls is to say that, while the direction of travel over the last 12 months has clearly been away from the SNP and towards Labour, the current balance between the two – and how this will play out in constituencies across the country – remains far from certain. Prior to this latest Ipsos poll, Scotland polls taken since the election was called have shown Labour leads of between 1 and 10 percentage points.

And when the gap between the leading parties is smaller (or non-existent), understanding how ‘soft’ or otherwise their support is critical.

Reform are on 4% (in contrast with recent UK-wide polls that estimate support for Reform at between 9% and 17%)Reform are on 4% (in contrast with recent UK-wide polls that estimate support for Reform at between 9% and 17%) (Image: free)

One measure of how ‘soft’ a party’s vote is how committed those who say they plan to vote for them are to this decision. As well as asking people how they were inclined to vote, our most recent poll asked them whether they had definitely decided, or whether they might still change their minds before election day.

Over 2 in 5 (42%) said they may change their minds – so the votes of a large portion of the Scottish electorate are, potentially, still up for grabs. Younger voters, women, and those with children at home are all relatively more likely to say they could yet change their mind about how they will vote.

Worryingly for the Scottish Conservatives, already well behind in third place, their current supporters are more likely to say they might change their minds – 55%, compared with 43% of those minded to vote Labour and 34% of those minded to vote SNP. And to the extent that they are still wavering, potential Conservative voters are wavering towards Labour – 42% said that, if they did change their minds, they might vote Labour instead.

In contrast with the picture across the UK as a whole, where Reform appear poised to make a significant dent to the Conservative vote, just 8% of those leaning Conservative at the moment say they might vote Reform if they do change their mind (17% said they might vote Liberal Democrat, and just 3% mentioned the SNP).

Labour could also benefit if it can persuade those who are currently leaning SNP but are not yet certain – 43% of this group said they might vote Labour if they did not vote SNP. In contrast, just 20% of those currently favouring Labour thought they might vote SNP if they did decide to switch (19% said they might vote Conservative, 15% Liberal Democrat, and 38% were unsure who else they would vote for).

On this evidence then, Labour could yet make further inroads into the SNP’s dominance of the Scottish political landscape on July 4. However, the sheer number of people who say they may yet change their minds underlines that the outcome of the election here is far from set. For all parties, there is still much to play for in Scotland over the four weeks of campaigning that remain.

Rachel Ormston is a Research Director at Ipsos Scotland