Labour candidate Mike Robb is set to lose his deposit in the fight for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey seat, according to an SNP activist collating results at the Dingwall count.
At 1am, the evolving picture, judging by statistics collated in fine detail on a laptop, was that SNP candidate Drew Hendry – the Highland Council leader – was comfortably clear of his rival, Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander.
The unofficial monitoring suggested the SNP was likely to win around 46% of the vote in the constituency compared with 38% for the Lib Dems.
The actual result is expected some time between 4am and 6am.
The Lib Dems are defending a majority of 8,765.
Arriving at the count, at the Highland Football Academy, Labour Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart, said: “I was astounded with tonight’s Exit Poll (forecasting 316 seats for the Conservatives, 239 for Labour and 58 for the SNP).
“Clearly, it’s going to be the SNP’s night in Scotland. Obviously the bigger picture for me is: are Labour going to be able to form an administration?”