The Conservatives are now challenging Labour to become Scotland’s second most popular party following a surge in the polls and a “bruising few weeks” for the SNP.
The percentage of people planning to vote Tory in next year’s Holyrood election has jumped six points to 18%, stealing five points from the SNP, who are down to 50%, and gaining significant ground on Labour, who remain unchanged at 20%.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats remain at 7% support, the Ipsos MORI poll for STV suggests.
There is also a growing gulf between Scotland and the rest of Britain on continuing membership of the European Union (EU).
Nearly two-thirds of Scots (65%) want to remain in the EU against little more than half (52%) across Britain.
Less than a quarter (22%) of Scots want to leave, compared with more than a third (36%) across Britain.
The SNP has cited a vote to take the UK out of the EU against majority opinion in Scotland as grounds for another independence referendum.
In the regional list vote, the SNP is down four to 46%, the Tories up four to 16%, Labour down one to 19%, the Lib Dems on 8% and the Greens on 7%.
Nicola Sturgeon’s overall popularity has dropped by nine points to 39% – with 67% satisfied against 28% dissatisfied – while Tory leader Ruth Davidson has jumped five points to 14% overall and Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has crept up from 1% to 4%.
Despite the Tories’ increasing popularity, the poll would only hand them two additional seats to 17, STV has projected.
Labour would lose 12 seats but remain well ahead of the Tories on 25 while the Lib Dems would gain two seats, taking them up to seven.
The Scottish Greens would gain six seats, taking them up to eight from 2011 and building on the backlash that greeted the SNP’s U-turn on Nato and gained them three former SNP MSP allies.
Coupled with the 72 predicted SNP seats – up three from 2011 – the Green surge would see over three-fifths of Holyrood’s chamber dominated by pro-independence MSPs.
Mark Diffley, director at Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “This latest poll continues to show the SNP in a commanding position despite losing some ground after a bruising few weeks.
“Interestingly, it is the Scottish Conservatives who benefit and they are now seriously challenging Labour as the main challenger to the SNP ahead of the Holyrood vote next May.
“On the forthcoming EU referendum it is notable that opinion in Scotland is firmly in favour in the UK remaining part of the EU while opinion south of the border appears to be moving in the opposite direction.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “This is an encouraging poll and we are looking to build on it over the next few months running up to the election.
“It’s clear we are the party on the side of hard-working Scots who want to get on in life. We are the only home for people passionate about Scotland’s place in the UK.”
SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: “This is another very welcome pollshowing people in Scotland are continuing to back the SNP’s record in governmentand our positive, ambitious vision for Scotland’s future – in contrast to aLabour Party which clearly isn’t even regarded as a credible party ofopposition, never mind a credible party of government.
“That people in Scotland are also backing our place in Europe in record numbers is also very encouraging – and shows that the right-wing Euroscepticism of the Tory government is being completely rejected, with almost three-quarters of Scots backing the positive case for EU membership.”
A Labour spokesman said: “We are in no doubt that regaining the trust and confidence of the Scottish people will take time, but we are confident that with fresh leadership and a focus on cutting the gap between the richest and the rest we can be the party that people in Scotland put their faith in again.
“Scotland needs a radical alternative to an SNP government who are beginning to make the same mistakes Labour used to make. That’s why next May the SNP won’t get it all their own way.”