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by Staff reporter
03 March 2023
SNP leadership race: Poll puts Humza Yousaf ahead of Kate Forbes but many SNP members undecided

SNP leadership race: Poll puts Humza Yousaf ahead of Kate Forbes but many SNP members undecided

Humza Yousaf has taken the lead in the race to become the next SNP leader according to a poll of SNP members, but most have yet to decide who to back.

The Savanta poll for the Telegraph found 31 per cent of the 515 SNP members asked planned to vote for Yousaf, while 25 per cent are backing Kate Forbes.

But 32 per cent said they didn’t know who they would vote for when the ballot opens on Monday 13 March.

Ash Regan trailed the poll with just 11 per cent of members saying they intend to vote for her.

The winner of the contest, who will likely become Scotland’s next first minister, will be announced on Monday 27 March after voting closes at midday.

Members of the SNP will cast votes under the single transferrable vote system, meaning they can rank candidates by preference.

When excluding ‘don’t knows’, Yousaf falls short of the 50 per cent required to win an outright victory in the first round and therefore those second-preference votes (taken from voters who backed the candidate with the least votes) could prove all-important.

Savanta director Chris Hopkins said: “This first poll of SNP members really indicates that the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon is too close to call. While Humza Yousaf narrowly leads Kate Forbes, with such a high proportion of undecided voters, it’s difficult to be able to say definitively who is really in the lead.”

The most recent figures put SNP membership at around 104,000 but little is known about the demographics of the party. This means accurate polling can be difficult.

Yousaf is currently the candidates with the highest number of endorsements from fellow MSPs and MPs. He has received the backing of 23 MSPs and 12 MPs, compared to Forbes’ nine and two, respectively.

Regan has so far only been backed by MP Joanna Cherry.

The leadership race was triggered after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to resign last month, after eight years in the role.

John Swinney, Sturgeon’s long-standing deputy, confirmed yesterday that he would also leave government at the end of March.

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