The Herald:

There is an old adage in politics that divided parties are disliked by voters and do not win elections; what we are currently witnessing in Scotland is going to test that adage to its limits.

Of course, the adage is not always true but what we have seen from today’s poll may be an early sign that the acrimonious events we are currently witnessing in Scottish politics, assumed thus far to be a ‘bubble’ story that is of little interest or value to regular voters, are cutting through to the electorate.

It needs to said at the outset that any impact is both limited and relative so far; barring a remarkable turn of events the SNP will win the Holyrood election, 10 weeks from today, and win it handsomely.

READ MORE: Poll shows SNP set for majority but independence and Sturgeon support dip

At 52% support in the constituency element of the ballot and 47% in the regional element, today’s poll does not appear to change that near certainty. If anything, it highlights that, despite the internal strife within the SNP, Scotland’s opposition parties look unable and unlikely to make a dent in its lead.

However, lurking in the poll are a number of findings that should concern the party and the wider pro-independence movement.

Firstly, support for independence, on a clear upward trajectory for the past 18 months, appears to be stalling, albeit still being in the majority at a rate of 52% versus 48% among those who have decided how they would vote. The continued upswing in support, expected by many in the wake of the difficulties experienced as the UK left the EU single market, has not materialised and average in the first two months of 2021 stands at 53%, down from an average of 55% in the final two months of 2020.

Again, this is a relatively modest decline and could be down the normal variation observed in polls. But there are other more immediate causes for concern in the poll; first, that one in five SNP voters have a ‘less favourable’ of the party as a result of the Salmond Inquiry should worry the party, not least because the interviewing for the poll was done before the increasingly acrimonious events of this week.

The Herald:

Second, the First Minister’s personal ratings have taken a knock with satisfaction in her performance falling from 72% in October to 64% now. Of course, these remain remarkably high for a long-serving leader and far ahead of other leaders at a Scotland or UK level, but the poll gives the first hint that we have had in a long time that the SNP could suffer electoral damage from its internal disagreements.

READ MORE: Here's how support for independence has changed in five years as new poll shows Yes lead

The election to the Scottish Parliament on May 6th is the most eagerly anticipated and, arguably, most important of the devolution era. As well as deciding who will govern the country for the next five years, and whether they do so with majority or minority government status, it is likely to have a significant impact on the constitutional question that as dominated our politics for much of the last decade.

Put simply, if the SNP and the wider independence movement is to maximise its hand in calling for a second independence referendum, then an overall majority for the SNP or for the pro-independence parties together, is vital.

And while today’s poll may not cause panic stations in the party, it should illustrate that its short and long-term electoral ambitions may be thrown off course if division persists.

Mark Diffley is a pollster who is the founder and director of the Diffley Partnership.