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by Kirsteen Paterson
23 March 2023
Nicola Sturgeon's popularity up as she leaves office, polling shows

Nicola Sturgeon's popularity up as she leaves office, polling shows

Nicola Sturgeon remains the most popular Scottish or Westminster political leader as she prepares to exit office, new polling shows.

The outgoing SNP leader will this afternoon hold her final First Minister's Questions in the top job.

She is expected to formally tender her resignation to the King on Monday, following the outcome of the SNP leadership race. 

New polling from Ipsos show her ratings have improved since the end of January - and she is viewed much more favourably than any of her possible successors.

Almost half of all Scots (46 per cent, up three per cent) have a favourable view of Sturgeon. Only 15 per cent have a positive view of Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, with Scottish Labour's Anas Sarwar on 26 per cent.

Sturgeon is also more popular than Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (20 per cent) and Labour leader Keir Starmer (27 per cent).

In the race for Bute House, Kate Forbes remains more popular than either Humza Yousaf or Ash Regan with the public as a whole, with 27 per cent holding a favourable view of her.

But amongst those who voted for the SNP in 2021, Yousaf is slightly ahead on 38 per cent to Forbes' 37 per cent and Regan's 22 per cent.

However, only SNP members get to vote in the contest, which closes at noon on Monday 27 March.

Despite this, almost three in five members of the public say they have been following news about the race closely.

More than 1,000 Scots over the age of 16 were surveyed from 17-21 March.

The SNP remains the most popular party, holding a favourability rating of -1. For Labour, the score was -4, while the Scottish Greens and Lib Dems were further behind on -14 and -22.

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos in Scotland, commented: "As the SNP leadership contest nears its close, neither Humza Yousaf nor Kate Forbes has managed to open up a clear lead among the party’s voters – though of course it is the party membership who will decide. Meanwhile as Nicola Sturgeon prepares to step down as First Minister she remains much better regarded by the public than any of the three candidates to succeed her, or any of the other Scottish party leaders. Scottish Labour have had a spring in their step in recent weeks, but these findings indicate the party has work to do if they are to substantially improve their ratings among the Scottish public."

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