After the first day of counting in the Scottish Parliament election the SNP has come away with gains in three key seats.
Results have been counted at 48 of Scotland’s 73 constituency seats, and the chances of the SNP securing an overall majority remain on a knife edge.
With the remaining results to be declared on Saturday, we look at the picture across Scotland so far.
The Magic Number
After the end of counting on Friday the SNP are sitting on 39 constituency seats. The magic number at Holyrood is 65 – the number of seats it takes to win a majority.
This isn’t just important for the ever-present question of independence, and whether the incoming SNP government can bring about a new referendum, it’s also about the day-to-day running of the parliament.
So whether or not the SNP tip over the line themselves, and hit that figure of 65 outright, could be significant for what goes on at Holyrood next term, even aside from independence.
So don’t chuck out those manifestos yet – if it is to be another minority government, we may see the policy priorities of some other parties coming to the fore as well as those of the governing SNP.
Some gains are more significant than others. They are sometimes talked about as “net gains”, and you can discern them on the electoral map by the dint of them being a tiny drop of red or blue amid a sea of yellow.
The first two SNP gains, East Lothian and Ayr, are both (somehow) in the South Scotland region. However, the SNP won three list seats there last time out, so could potentially lose one or two of those as a result of gaining constituencies.
We will find out for sure on Saturday, but every seat a party gains in a region makes it exponentially harder to win list seats.
However, Edinburgh Central is in a region – Lothian – where the SNP did not previously have any list seats. This makes it a true net gain, and is far more helpful to them in the quest for a majority.
There were a couple of other seats which could have been a net gain for the SNP – Dumbarton and Eastwood among them – but they fell agonisingly short in both.
There is one left, however, on Saturday, which could prove pivotal – Aberdeenshire West.
This has been an extremely hard election to take an “overall picture” from, because the situation on the ground in different constituencies has been very volatile.
To put it another way, the swings have been all over the place.
Meanwhile, Labour had some heartening results around Glasgow and the west of Scotland – although they were chiefly pleased not to lose Dumbarton, having shed East Lothian to the SNP.
Rather than one party being up or down across the country, the race is becoming far more local – and binary.
In most seats now, the contest seems to be between the SNP, and whichever other party has the best chance of beating them.
In parts of the Highlands and Islands, that’s the Lib Dems, in the north east and the Borders it’s the Tories, in parts of the central belt and the west it’s Labour.
This tactical voting has secured a few seats that the SNP were hoping to pick off.
But it’s much less clear how it will affect the race for regional list seats – which will be pivotal in deciding the final placings.