The Border Poll


By Faha

A poll was recently published by covering numerous questions related to Northern Ireland. The actual polling was done by LucidTalk. Two of those questions were specific to a Border Poll.Image result for Ireland map in green

One question queried that if there were a referendum on whether Northern Ireland should remain in the UK or become part of a United Ireland would you?

The weighted results were:

Remain Part of the UK           46.8%

Part of a United Ireland         45.4%

Undecided                                   7.8%

There was a narrow majority in favour of remaining in the UK.

Another question was asked which was:

Would you support Irish unity as a pathway back to membership of the EU for Northern Ireland?

The results were:


Yes                       47.9%

No                        44.8%

Undecided            7.3%

Since Brexit has occurred for the UK, and will be final at the end of this year, it appears that any Border Poll would be in the context of Northern Ireland returning to the EU as part of a United Ireland.

The results showed a 3% plurality for becoming part of a United Ireland. I will explore the results of this question further. The results were broken down by the voter’s political party vote in the 2017 Assembly election and the results were:

Yes               No             Undecided

Unionist parties               3.7%           91.7%              4.7%

Nationalist parties         91.6%            4.4%               4.0%

Alliance-Green               59%              18%               23%

Non-Voters                     43.2%           39.8%            17%

Unsurprisingly, over 90% of unionist voters wish to remain in the UK and over 90% of nationalist voters would vote for a United Ireland.

However, a clear majority of Alliance-Green voters would vote for a United Ireland in order to keep Northern Ireland within the EU. Only 18% would vote to remain in the UK with many undecided. There is also a slight plurality of non-voters who would vote for a United Ireland.

This is significant since a Border Poll would have much higher turnout than an Assembly or Westminster election. The recent Westminster election had a turnout of 800,000. The Scottish independence referendum had a turnout of 85% and a similar turnout for a Border Poll would result in over 1,200,000 voters. SF and the DUP have the most motivated voters and non-voters are generally those who only occasionally vote and appear to have views that are more in line with those of Alliance-Green, SDLP and UUP voters.

Amongst unionist voters most of those who would vote for a United Ireland or are Undecided are UUP voters.

Most of the nationalist voters who would vote to remain in the UK or are Undecided are more likely voters who vote for minor nationalist parties (43%) and to a lesser extent SDLP voters (15%).

Voter preference was also tabulated by religion and the results were:

Yes              No               Undecided

Protestant                8%              85%                  7%

Catholic                   88%                7%                  5%

Other/None            52.7%         36.1%              11.2%

15% of Protestant voters would vote for a United Ireland or are Undecided.

This is twice as high as that for unionist voters and this would be due to Protestants who vote for Alliance, Green or nationalist parties.

Similarly, the 12% of Catholics who are in favour of remaining in the UK or are Undecided is higher than that for nationalist voters and would be due to Catholics who vote for Alliance, Green or unionist parties.

If the poll results are extrapolated to the party preference vote in the recent Westminster election the results would be identical. However, an actual Border Poll would include EU nationals (who are not permitted to vote in Westminster elections) as well as 16 and 17-year olds (who were permitted to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum).

EU nationals are 3% of the total electorate and 7% of the voting population. Thus, it appears that a Border Poll would have a narrow majority for a United Ireland, perhaps 51% to 52%.

Should a Border Poll be called at this time?

I would strongly recommend against such a poll at this time. We have already seen how disruptive the Brexit vote was to UK society with a 52% vote in favour of leaving the EU with no idea of what that would actually entail.

We also do not know how Northern Ireland would be integrated into the Republic of Ireland. A 55% or higher majority, and ideally 60%, would be desirable for an United Ireland.

A year from now we will have clearer picture on voter attitudes. Ireland, the UK and EU will be going a through a coronavirus pandemic with unknown consequences on the economy.

There could still be a Hard Brexit late December which could adversely affect the Northern Ireland economy.

Next January, the calling of a Border Poll will need to be seriously considered if voter opinion indicates a clear majority would favour a United Ireland.

What if? – Assembly Election 2020

By Faha

There has been some speculation recently that there will be an Assembly election called by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State in January. With the Westminster election results it is possible to estimate the number of seats that each party could win in each constituency.

There are a few caveats with these predictions. There were some Image result for northern ireland assembly map"constituencies where not all the parties competed (North, South and East Belfast, North Down, Fermanagh-South Tyrone) and there is evidence of some tactical voting in certain constituencies.

EU nationals were not permitted to vote in the Westminster election and the addition of these voters in an Assembly election could influence the outcome as this could add another 10,000+ voters.

There is also the issue of whether the nationalist parties, especially Sinn Fein, should agree to an election without certain changes in the nature of the Assembly. The issue of gerrymandering of the current constituencies also needs to be addressed.

Northern Ireland



































Other Unionist







Overall for Northern Ireland the Westminster unionist vote was 43% and the nationalist vote 40% with 17% for others (almost all Alliance). This was a nominal decline of 6% in the unionist vote and 2% in the nationalist vote.

For the individual constituencies these were the results and would be the implications for an Assembly election.

























Other Unionist




The SDLP would elect 3 on these numbers. SF would elect 2 as Aontu, PBP and Alliance are far behind SF in the percentage vote. The DUP won a unionist seat with only 500 votes to spare and it appears likely there would be no unionist seat with a total unionist vote of 12.4% (Quota is 16.7%)

East Londonderry























Other Unionist




SF and the SDLP are only 1% short of a quota and would receive enough Aontu transfers to elect both. Alliance is only 1.5% short of a quota and would receive enough UUP transfers for a seat. The fact that SF, SDLP and Alliance have an equal vote just short of a quota indicates there will be one unionist seat lost here.

West Tyrone
























Other Unionist




There should be no change here. The SDLP are over a quota. SF are short of 3 quotas but should elect 3 on transfers. The total unionist vote is 28.75% which is far short of 2 quotas (33.3%) and the DUP has no source of transfers for the additional 4.5% needed to elect 2.

Mid Ulster























Other Unionist




No change here. The total unionist vote is 3% short of 2 quotas and the DUP have no source of transfers from the non unionist parties.

Fermanagh South Tyrone






















Other Unionist




The 3rd SF seat is at risk here and was only won in 2017 when the SDLP candidate was eliminated 60 votes behind the 3rd SF candidate. The doubling of the Alliance vote here increases the risk to the 3rd SF candidate since Alliance voters are much more likely to transfer to the SDLP.

Newry and Armagh























Other Unionist


No change here. Although it appears the 3rd SF seat may be at risk the total unionist vote is only 30%, more than 3% short of 2 quotas. Alliance have half a quota but if the 3 SF candidates are balanced Alliance will be eliminated.

Upper Bann






















Other Unionist




SF would win 2 seats here since the SDLP would be eliminated due to the higher Alliance vote. The total unionist vote is 53%. If the DUP have perfect balancing the UUP would be eliminated and Alliance would be elected with some UUP transfers. There is a significant EU nationals vote here so the total unionist vote could be only 50% which would make an Alliance seat more likely.

South Down























Other Unionist


SF is just short of 2 quotas and the SDLP is 4% short of 2 quotas. Aontu transfers will help both parties but the SDLP would still be 1.5% short of 2 quotas. Balancing will determine outcome. Alliance are almost 3% short of a quota but will be closer on UUP transfers. Only one unionist seat here.

North Antrim






















Other Unionist





There would be one less unionist seat here. The nationalist vote is 19.5%, almost 3% over a quota. That surplus will go to Alliance which will put them over a quota.

East Antrim























Other Unionist





There would also be one less unionist seat here. Alliance is 6% short of 2 quotas but the combined Green, SDLP and SF vote is 10% so 2 Alliance will easily be elected.

South Antrim






















Other Unionist




No change here with 3 unionists, 1 Alliance and 1 SF.

Lagan Valley






















Other Unionist





Alliance is far ahead of the combined SDLP-SF vote and will win 2 seats here with the 2nd at the expense of the SDLP.
























Other Unionist





Another lost unionist seat here as Alliance is only 5% short of 2 quotas. The combined Green, SDLP and SF vote is 9% so Alliance should easily elect 2 on transfers.

North Down




















Other Unionist





There was no Green candidate so it is unknown whether it would be one Green and one Alliance elected or 2 Alliance. If the UUP candidate is eliminated it is possible that 2 Alliance and 1 Green could be elected on UUP and other unionist transfers.

Belfast East












Other Unionist



The UUP could lose their seat to the DUP. However, the council election results indicate this may not occur. However, if the UUP vote does not return to council levels then 2 Alliance and 1 Green could be elected on UUP transfers. Turnout was only 50% in nationalist Short Strand so if that vote turns out for an Assembly election there could be a lost unionist seat here.

South Belfast





















Other Unionist




On raw numbers the SDLP would win 3 seats here. However, there were no SF or Green candidates. Nevertheless, the SDLP could win 2. There is only one unionist seat here so the other 2 seats would be 1 Alliance and SF and the Greens for the 5th seat.

Belfast North




















Other Unionist




The raw vote shows only 2 unionist seats and 3 SF seats. SF will probably win 2 with the SDLP or Alliance winning the 3rd non unionist seat.

Belfast West























Other Unionist




PBP will win one as they are just short of a quota. The DUP are over 3% short of a quota with no source for transfers. SF could win 4 again. The risk to the 4th seat comes from the SDLP since the SDLP will receive many Alliance transfers and some Aontu transfers. With good balancing SF could retain 4.

An Assembly election would result in a net loss of 5 unionist seats for a total of 35. Nationalist seats would be in the 39 to 41 range so basically unchanged. Alliance and Green seats would increase by 4 to 6 and could be as high as 16 seats but no fewer than 14.

They are a few matters that need to be addressed before SF, SDLP, Alliance and Greens agree to a new election and the formation of a new government at Stormont.

#1 Petition of Concern

This was originally inserted in the GFA to protect the nationalist minority from domination by a unionist majority. However, it was abused by the DUP to prevent passage of any legislation the DUP did not agree with. The unionists are now in a minority in the current Assembly and likely an even smaller minority in the next one. The unionist minority does not need protection. The petition of concern should be abolished.

#2 Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister

There should be no requirement as to the composition of the Executive. A voluntary coalition should be introduced. The unionist minority cannot appoint any unionist to the Executive without the support of the Alliance and Green parties. It is inconceivable that those parties would vote for any DUP MLA for First Minister or even Deputy First Minister. The nationalist parties are actually in control in this matter. for example, the nationalist parties could elect Clare Bailey as First Minister and Sorcha Eastwood as Deputy First Minister (or reverse the positons I mentioned). The Green and Alliance parties would be ecstatic. The nationalist parties would find this acceptable and female MLA’s would celebrate the outcome. The DUP would be outraged but there is nothing they could do about it.

Of course, both the DUP and SF would be opposed to a voluntary coalition. SF would be opposed since they want a guaranteed position in the Executive. The DUP would be opposed since their vote would decline.

They could no longer frighten unionist voters with the prospect of a SF First Minister.

#3 Gerrymandering

The current constituencies are based upon a review that was last completed 12 years ago. The recent review was never acted upon by Westminster.

The constituencies have become grossly unequal in electors with Newry and Armagh containing almost 85,000 voters and East Antrim only 65,600. The Boundary Review for Northern Ireland should be separate for Stormont constituencies and the 18 constituencies should not vary more than +- 2%.

An impartial Boundary Review Commission should be appointed with equal input from the British and Irish governments.

It should not take 8 years as the current review has done and should complete all its work in one year.

Final Westminster Polling

 By Faha

LucidTalk conducted a poll of Northern Ireland voters and their Westminster voting preferences from November 27th to November 30th. The poll was commissioned by Electoral Calculus and Remain United. I will discuss some of the findings in this poll.

Compared to the previous poll there are increased percentages of voters who Image result for voting day northern Ireland"state they are 100% certain to vote. In the previous poll unionist voters were significantly less likely to be 100% certain of voting compared to nationalist voters. However, now the percentages are almost equal between nationalist and unionist voters in the 94% to 95% range. However, Protestant voters are 91% certain to vote and Catholic voters 95% certain to vote.

Westminster voting intentions, excluding nonvoters and undecided (5% of voters), showed the results were:

SF 25.2%

SDLP 13.0%

Alliance 15.6%

UUP 11.6%

DUP 29.6%

Others 5.0%

The Other group includes PBP, Aontu, Independents, Green, UKIP and Conservatives. Over 70% of the vote for Others comes from the Catholic community and only 18% from the Protestant community. This indicates that much of that 5% is PBP, Aontu, Greens and Independents.

If only those 100% certain to vote are included the unionist vote would decrease minimally in the poll. The results are much more influenced by the weighting of the sample. The sample of those 100% certain to vote was weighted by Religion as follows:

Catholic 38.6%

Protestant 39.1%

None/Other 22.4%

The percentage of Catholics and Protestants are therefore equal and this is consistent with an extrapolation of the 2011 Census adding in new voters and removing voters (mainly elderly) who have died.

However, the 22.4% shown as None/Other is much higher than the 11% indicated in the census. The higher sample in the poll could be due to the increasing secular identity in Northern Ireland since 2011. It could also be due to over sampling of None/Other voters. A 22.4% None/Other sample, rather than the 11% indicated in the census, has a significant effect on the poll findings. This is because the Alliance voter preference in the None/Other group is over 40%.

I calculated voter preference based on a None/Other percentage similar to the 11% in the census and Catholic-Protestant percentages in the census. The results are:

SF 26.0%

SDLP 13.3%

Alliance 12.5%

UUP 12.0%

DUP 31.0%

Others 5.2%

The total SF-SDLP vote goes up by 1.1% and the total UUP-DUP vote goes up by 1.8%. The Alliance vote declines by 3%.

Electoral Calculus did do seat predictions but the average number of voters per constituency would be 130 which is too small a sample to give accurate predictions. The 5.2% vote for minor candidates may decrease since there is a tendency for such voters not to waste their vote on election day.

Based on the new poll finding and my adjustment I would conclude that:

The DUP vote will be down significantly from their 36% in 2107.

If this is a uniform decline they will not win in North Down, South Belfast and North Belfast. They could also lose East Belfast and South Antrim and possibly Upper Bann.

The Alliance vote will be up significantly from their 7.9% in 2017. It could be over 50% higher than their 2017 vote. This will probably not be a uniform swing and will most likely be concentrated in North Down, East Belfast, South Belfast and South Antrim. In half the constituencies they will poll 3% to 4%.

The vote for the SDLP, UUP and SF are within the margin of error for their 2017 results. SF may lose 2% of their vote to Aontu but this could only be of significance in Foyle and South Down.

Part 2 -Election 2019 – The Next Nine

By Faha

Analysis of the remaining 9 constituencies for Thursdays poll as promised

West Tyrone- Safe Sinn Fein

SF won here in 2017 with 47% of the vote. Based on the Council election they should maintain that percentage. The UUP, Alliance and SDLP percentage will be up and that of the DUP will be down.Image result for crossing the border in ireland"

Mid Ulster- Safe Sinn Fein

SF will easily win here, though Council election results suggest their vote will be down. The SF vote was 54.5% in 2017 and may only be 50% with an increase in the SDLP vote.

Newry and Armagh- Safe Sinn Fein

SF won with 48% in 2017 and Council results indicate it should be at least 45%. The overall unionist vote will be down, as there are almost 3,000 new voters on the register, few of whom will be voting unionist. The SDLP vote should be up.

North Antrim: Safe DUP

Ian Paisley Jnr. won with 59% in 2017. The TUV and UUP received only 7% each. I expect the DUP vote to be down dramatically.

The DUP only received 30% of the Council vote with the TUV and UUP each at approximately 16%. The TUV is not standing for Westminster.

However, Ian Paisley was suspended from Westminster a year ago and with the low DUP Council vote I expect his vote to be only in the 40% range. He may pick up some of the TUV Council vote as well as some independent unionist votes but it is likely that the UUP vote will be up, possibly as high as 30%. Not enough to win.

East Londonderry: Safe DUP

Gregory Campbell of the DUP won with 48% in 2017. His vote will be down in this election but should exceed 40%.

This is a constituency where a Remain pact could have defeated the DUP as the non unionist vote in the Council election was 46%.

Upper Bann: Leaning DUP

David Simpson of the DUP won here in 2017 with 43.5% of the vote. He was not selected for this election due to a scandal and Carla Lockhart, a DUP MLA, will be standing.

The UUP received 15.5%, SF 28%, SDLP 9% and Alliance 4.5%.

The decline in the DUP vote, noted in the Lucid Talk poll, suggests the DUP vote could decline to 35%. It is unlikely that the SF vote would increase to that level to defeat the DUP but here could be some tactical voting for SF from SDLP or Alliance voters.

The DUP vote was 28% in the Council election with the UUP at 22%. There are 2,700 new voters on the register with 1,500 added in November.

Unionist turnout has historically been much higher than nationalist turnout here. To illustrate this the current electorate of 83,000, based on demographics, would be 42,000 unionist and 41,000 nationalist or Alliance with 100% turnout.

In 2017 30,000 of those unionists voted versus only 21,000 of nationalist and Alliance voters. Unless this changes in this election SF will be unable to overtake the DUP.

Fermanagh South Tyrone: Leaning Sinn Fein

Always a close contest between SF and the unionist candidate here. SF won in 2017 by 875 votes.

There are 2,200 new voters on the register (1,200 added in November) and these are likely to be younger Remain voters. Tom Elliott of the UUP appears to be in the Leave camp.

Unionist turnout will be down here due to Brexit. Whether the new border is a hard border with the Republic or it is in the Irish Sea it will be devastating for unionist farmers. It is unlikely that they will turn out and vote to support their own bankruptcy and loss of their farms.

SF should win with a 1,000 to 2,000 vote margin.

Foyle: Leaning SDLP

SF won this seat in a major upset in 2017 by only 169 votes. This seat will likely revert to the SDLP in this election. The Council results in May were approximately:

SF 26%

SDLP 31%

Aontu 2.5%

PBP 8.5%

Other nationalist 10%

The SDLP had a 5% lead over SF. Since Aontu and PBP are both competing the only uncertainty is where the 10% received by other nationalists will go.

In looking at the transfer pattern for those other nationalist it appears that the SDLP and PBP received more of those transfers than SF.

There were 1,600 new voters added in November and these are likely to be younger voters that would favour SF or PBP. However, I expect that the SDLP will win here by 5%. There may be a few tactical votes for the SDLP from Alliance and UUP voters which did not occur in 2017.

South Down: Too close to call between Sinn Fein and the SDLP

There were some interesting changes here between the 2015 and 2017 election.

In both elections the total unionist vote was 10,800. The Alliance vote increased by 200 and the SDLP vote declined by 200. However, the total vote increased by 8,000 from 2015 to 2017 and all 8,000 of those additional voters voted for SF and SF won with a margin of 2,400 and 40% to 35%. .

The SF vote held up well in the Council election at 34.6%. There was 8.6% for independent nationalists so the SF vote should be in the 38% to 39% range. Aontu received 2.5% and are competing.

The SDLP only have a chance if some Alliance voters vote for the SDLP. There are also an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 unionist voters who are Remain voters and some may vote for the SDLP in this election.

SF have a slight edge but it should be closer than the 2017 election. The SDLP can only win with tactical voting by Alliance and unionist Remain voters.

Overall I expect a SF loss and SDLP gain in Foyle. There is a small possibility of a SF upset win in Upper Bann and a SDLP upset win in South Down.

Westminster Election 2019 – Change comes dripping slow

 By Faha

The Westminster election is imminent so I will analyze the 9 Belfast region constituencies followed by another analysis of the remaining 9 constituencies.

The recent District Council elections provide a clue as to the Westminster vote. There was also a recent LucidTalk poll on voter preferences. There has as well, been a large increase in voter registration. Between the Westminster election in June 2017 and November 1st 2019 the electorate increased 23,000. However, in the month of November anothe27,000 voters were added.Image result for young voters Ireland"

Brexit is also the main issue in this election and Northern Ireland voted 56% Remain. Recent polls have shown that the electorate is now 60% Remain.

The District Council elections in May 2019 showed the following results with 677,000 votes.

SF 23.4%

SDLP 11.9%

Aontu 1.1%

PBP 1.4%

Other Nationalist 3.8%

Total Nationalist 41.6%

Alliance 11.5%

Green 2.1%

Other 0.5%

Total 14.1%

UUP 13.9%

DUP 23.8%

Other Unionist 6.6%

Total Unionist 44.3%

Not all of the 677,000 voters who voted in May are eligible to vote in the Westminster election. EU nationals who voted in the District Council election are not permitted to vote in Westminster election so excluding those EU voters there may be 665,000 voters who can and will probably vote in the Westminster election.

However, Westminster elections have a much higher turnout than local elections. In 2017 812,000 voters out of an electorate of 1,244,000 voted for a turnout of 65%. Since there are an additional 50,000 voters on the electorate one would expect a voter turnout of 845,000 voters this week with identical turnout. So another 180,000 voters could vote this week compared to May.

Who will these voters be?

The extra 50,000 new registered voters are more likely to be younger voters since that age group has the lowest rate of voter registration. Of the 27,000 new voters added in November the largest increases were in North and South Belfast with 2,800 in each constituency.

In looking at the ward data they appear to be more likely non unionist voters.

East Antrim: Safe DUP

Sammy Wilson easily won with 57% in 2017. The new UUP leader Steve Aiken is standing here so the UUP vote will be up. The DUP vote should be down but probably still above 50%.

Lagan Valley: Safe DUP

Jeffrey Donaldson won with almost 60%. This constituency voted 53% Leave and now would likely be evenly divided on Brexit. The DUP should win with slightly over 50%.

Strangford: Safe DUP

Jim Shannon won with 62% in 2017. His vote will be lower this time but still comfortably above 50%.

West Belfast: Safe Sinn Fein

SF won with 59% of the vote in 2017. The District Council results indicate they will maintain this vote and may reach 60%.

South Antrim: Too close to call between UUP and DUP.

In 2017 Paul Girvan of the DUP defeated Danny Kinahan of the UUP by 38.2% to 30.8% with a margin of 3,200 votes. South Antrim was evenly divided between Leave and Remain. There have been 3,400 new voters added since 2017 (5%) and it is likely that many of these are younger Remain voters. Recent polls show that the DUP vote will be down 20% from 2017 with a steady UUP vote so this constituency will be very close. The District Council election showed that the DUP was 5% higher than the UUP and 10% higher than Alliance with 7% for independent unionists. Even minimal tactical voting by Alliance and nationalist voters would result in the defeat of the DUP, a temptation that some of those voters will find hard to resist. I would give the UUP a slight edge due to Brexit.

North Down: Leaning Alliance

IN 2017 Sylvia Hermon defeated Alex Easton of the DUP 41% to 38% with a margin of only 1,200. While Easton is standing again Sylvia Hermon has retired. The UUP have a well-known local MLA, Alan Chamber, as their candidate. There is also a Conservative candidate. Stephen Farry is standing for Alliance with backing from the Green Party, SDLP and SF (all of whom are not competing). In the May District Council election the UUP polled 20% and the DUP 28.5% with 9% for other unionists. The Alliance vote was 26% and the Green vote 14.7% with 1.5% for nationalist and non unionist independents. Since the vast majority of the Green and nationalist voters will vote Alliance, the Alliance vote should be at least 41%. Even if most of the other unionist voters choose the DUP that DUP vote will not exceed 36% to 37%. There are also 1,600 new voters on the register and most of these are likely younger and/or Remain voters. North Down voted 52% Remain and this would be over 55% in 2019. Alliance should win here.

East Belfast: Too close to call between Alliance and DUP

In 2017 Gavin Robinson of the DUP easily defeated Naomi Long of Alliance 56% to 36% with a margin of 8,500 votes. However, half of that margin was due to tactical voting by UUP voters. The UUP vote collapsed from 13% in the 2017 Assembly election to 3% in Westminster. What has changed in 2019? The 2019 Council election showed both the DUP and Alliance receiving 33%. The Green Party and nationalist parties received 10.5%, the UUP 13.5% and other unionists 10%. The DUP will receive most of the other 10% unionist vote and Alliance will receive the 10.5% Green nationalist vote. East Belfast voted 51% Leave but would now be a narrow Remain constituency. There are also 2,700 new voters since 2017 (1,700 in November alone). These are more likely younger and Remain voters. These new voters and the willingness of nonvoting Remain voters to vote will determine the outcome. Also if there is any tactical voting by UUP voters, as there was in 2017, the DUP will be helped if this occurs. I believe that tactical voting to the DUP by UUP Remain voters is very unlikely and some of these voters may vote Alliance.

South Belfast: Safe SDLP

The dynamics of the election here are totally different than in 2017. In 2017 Emma Little Pengelly of the DUP won over the Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP 30% to 26% with a margin of 2,000. In 2019 Claire Hanna is now competing for the SDLP. Furthermore, events in North Belfast precipitated a chain reaction. Initially, the new leader of the UUP, Stephen Aiken, stated that the UUP would compete in all 18 constituencies. However, in North Belfast this led to loyalist paramilitary threats against the UUP so the UUP decided not to compete in North Belfast. This in turn led to a decision by the SDLP to stand down in North Belfast, East Belfast and North Down and their voters were advised to back the strongest pro Remain candidate. The Green Party followed by standing down in North Belfast, South Belfast, East Belfast and North Down and asked their voters to vote for anti-Brexit candidates. The leader of the Green Party, Claire Bailey, openly endorsed Claire Hanna. SF also declined to compete in South Belfast. The combined SDLP-SF-Green vote in 2017 was 47% which far exceeds the DUP vote of 30%. The combined total unionist vote in the Council election was only 32% while the combined SDLP-SF-Green vote was 44%. Alliance received 24%. There were also 3,800 new voters added since 2017 (2,800 in November) and few of these are in unionist areas. While not all Green and SF voters will vote SDLP, the SDLP vote should be well over 40% and the DUP will be less than 30%.

North Belfast: Leaning Sinn Fein

See South Belfast above for how events unfolded in North Belfast. The 2017 vote was:

Nigel Dodds DUP 21,240 (46.2%)

John Finucane SF 19,159 (41.7%)

SDLP 2,058 (4.5%)

Workers Party 360 (0.8%)

Green 644 (1.4%)

Alliance 2,475 (5.4%)

The DUP won by 2,081 votes. However, in 2019 only SF, Alliance and the DUP are competing. There are over 3,000 SDLP, Green and Workers Party voters that will choose other candidates. While some may vote Alliance, more than 2,000 will vote SF. So if that 2017 election had been held with only SF, DUP and Alliance candidates it would have been very close. What has changed since 2017? The Council election showed a combined unionist vote of 41% and a combined nationalist vote of 43% and a combined Alliance-Green vote of 16%. 4,000 new voters have been added since 2017 with 2,800 in November. It appears the increased registration is concentrated in certain wards and it is likely that less than 40% of those voters are unionist voters. While this election would have been even in 2017 the demographic changes alone would give SF a 500 vote edge.

The recent actions of the loyalist paramilitaries, as well as the intimidation of Catholic families attempting to move into housing in Ballysillan, will likely increase nationalist turnout. It is also possible that some Alliance voters will vote SF in order to defeat Nigel Dodds. I expect SF to win by a narrow margin though it could exceed 1,000 votes.

Overall, I expect the loss of DUP seats in South Belfast and North Belfast and a gain of 1 seat each for SF, SDLP and Alliance. East Belfast and South Antrim are too close to call. If another LucidTalk poll is released this week with Westminster voting intentions I will update my predictions.

Westminster 2019 Election Poll

By Faha

LucidTalk conducted a poll of Northern Ireland voters and their Westminster voting preferences from October 30th to November 1st. The poll was commissioned by Electoral Calculus and Remain United.

I will discuss some of the findings in this poll.

There were 2,273 respondents and they were asked about their likelihood of voting on a zero to 10 scale with 10 being absolutely certain to vote. This question is often asked by numerous polling companies for Westminster and other elections.

The predicted turnout is always much higher than actual turnout. This may be due to the fact that those who participate in polls are more politically engaged than the average Image result for Nationalist Unionist politics balancevoter. However, there is one consistent finding and that is the percentage who are absolutely certain to vote usually equals the actual turnout. This does not mean that all those who are certain to vote actually vote and none of those who are less certain to vote never vote.

There are a few who state they are absolutely certain to vote who do not vote. It appears though that few of those who are less certain to vote actually vote. In this poll 88% stated they were absolutely certain to vote.

These are the differences by various subgroups:

2017 Assembly Vote

SF                    95%

SDLP               94%

Alliance          93%

UUP                88%

DUP                86%

2016 EU Referendum Vote

Remain          92%

Leave              84%


Catholic          92%

Protestant      86%

Other/None   85%

It appears that nationalist and Alliance voters are more likely to vote in this election. This would be a reversal of the historical pattern where unionist turnout is higher than nationalist or Alliance turnout.

Those who voted Remain are more likely to vote than those who voted Leave. This is probably due to misgivings some Leave voters have about the negative effects of Brexit on Northern Ireland. Some Leave voters may be disillusioned about the DUP and its strategy in Westminster.

Voters were also asked which party they will vote for in the election. This included all respondents, not just those who were 100% certain to vote.

After excluding non-voters and those voters who stated they will vote but are Undecided these are the results.

SF                     23.8%

SDLP                 13.7%

PBP                     1.2%

Alliance            16.1%

Green                  1.2%

Other                   2.8%

UUP                      8.7%

DUP                    28.1%

TUV                       1.2%

Sylvia Hermon     2.9%

The unionist parties received 47.2% in the 2017 election. This poll indicates a drop to 38%. The nationalist parties received 41% in 2017. This poll indicates a drop to 38.7%. Alliance -Green were 8.8% in 2017 but 17.3% in this poll, nearly double 2017.

There have been some new developments since this poll was conducted. Sylvia Hermon will not be standing and the TUV are not contesting any seats. The Green Party is not contesting any of the Belfast seats nor North Down and will contest only 3 seats in total.

I estimated the December 2019 electorate based on the 2011 census and added in all new voters and subtracted voters who have died since then. I also adjusted for EU nationals and others (military) who do not vote in Westminster elections. This appears to be the demographics of that electorate

Catholic                 43%

Protestant             45%

Other/None          12%

The LucidTalk poll had 22% of their respondents as None/Other. This may be due to the increasing secular nature of voters. None/Other have a 20% higher preference for Alliance- Green candidates so this influences the results. Voter preferences were given by religious background.

If the electorate is identical to the census projection and taking into account the fact that Catholic voters are more likely to certainly vote then the actual electorate that votes would be:

Catholic                45%

Protestant            43.5%

Other/None         11.5%

Based on voter preferences given in the poll I estimate this would be the election day results

SF                     24.5%

SDLP                 14.9%

PBP                     0.8%

Alliance            14.3%

Green                  1.2%

Other                   2.5%

UUP                      8.8%

DUP                    28.9%

TUV                       1.2%

Sylvia Hermon     2.9%

As with any estimate there is a significant margin of error. However, it does appear that there will be a large drop in the DUP vote and a lesser decline in the SF vote. Both the Alliance and SDLP vote will be up significantly.

There will be another LucidTalk poll conducted at the end of November. Now that all the candidates are known the results will be different.

The 5% of the vote that currently goes to Sylvia Hermon, the TUV and the Green Party will go to other candidates.

Full list of candidates by constituency is available Here (BD)

Westminster Election – Pacts & Possibilities

By Faha

An election for the Westminster Parliament will be held on December 12.

The main issue in this election will be the nature of Brexit. Currently the Conservatives are averaging a 12% lead over Labour in the first group of opinion polls released. This would result in a clear Conservative majority if this lead exists on election day.

Alarmed by the prospect of a pro Brexit Conservative majority, several of the opposition parties (Liberal Democrats, Green, and Plaid Cymru) recently announced a formal election pact involving over 60 constituencies. Only one candidate from those 3 parties will stand and the parties will encourage all their voters to vote for that one candidate. All of those candidates will be in favour of keeping the UK within the EU.Image result for electoral pact northern ireland

In Northern Ireland the DUP is the current coalition partner with the Conservatives and they have strongly supported a policy where all of the UK (including Northern Ireland) will leave the EU.

The DUP even prefer a Hard Brexit over the deal that Theresa May negotiated, a deal that could not be passed in Parliament. A week ago there were no signs of an electoral pact between the parties in Northern Ireland that wish to keep Northern Ireland within the EU (SF, SDLP, Alliance, Greens). The new UUP leader Steve Aiken stated that the UUP would stand in all 18 constituencies.

Then the unexpected occurred. Loyalist paramilitaries threatened the UUP if they stood in North Belfast. The UUP gave in to these threats and announced that they would not contest North Belfast. This appeared to cause outrage in the non unionist communities.

The SDLP announced that they would not contest North Belfast, East Belfast and North Down and urged their voters to vote for the strongest pro Remain candidate in those constituencies. This was followed shortly by SF announcing they would not contest South Belfast. The Green Party announced they would not contest North, South and East Belfast and publicly endorsed Claire Hanna in South Belfast. Apparently the Workers Party may not stand in North Belfast.

There are currently 10 pro Brexit DUP MPs in Westminster. Sylvia Hermon in North Down has stated she will not stand in this election and based on the 2017 election results the DUP would win the seat. The DUP could potentially return 11 MPs.

Could an electoral pact among Pro Remain parties reduce this number?

An electoral pact would be of no use in the constituencies of Strangford, Lagan Valley, East Antrim and North Antrim since the DUP MPs won these seats in 2017 with majorities of 57% to 62%. The other 7 DUP MPs could theoretically be defeated with electoral pacts.

There are not yet any formal electoral pacts among the pro Remain parties. The parties will not contest several constituencies but this does not appear to be part of any formal negotiations among the parties though the Greens did endorse Claire Hanna in South Belfast.

There are informal electoral pacts in North, South and East Belfast and I will now analyze the implications.

South Belfast

2017 Results

SF                         16.3%

SDLP                    25.9%

Alliance               18.2%

Green                    5.1%

DUP                     30.4%

UUP                       3.5%

Conservative        0.6%

The 2019 District Council election showed a 3% decline in the total unionist vote compared to 2017. The DUP vote is unlikely to be any higher than 30% and may be lower since the Remain vote was 70% here. Since the SDLP will pick up most of the SF and Green vote the SDLP vote will be well over 40%. The DUP will lose this seat and there will be one less pro Brexit MP.

North Belfast- 2017 results

SF                         41.7%     (19,159)

SDLP                      4.5%      ( 2,058)

Workers Party      0.8%       ( 360 )

Alliance                  5.4%     (2,475)

Green                      1.4%      ( 644 )

DUP                     46.2%       (21,240)

Nigel Dodds won with a 2,081 plurality over SF. Since the SDLP, Greens and Workers Party will not contest the election where will their votes go?

In view of the recent threats by Loyalist paramilitaries which forced the UUP to stand down and the fact that Nigel Dodds is strongly pro Brexit, I believe that at least 1,500 of the SDLP votes will go to SF. In the 2019 council election in the Oldpark DEA the SDLP transfers that went to SF or Alliance were 75% to SF. SDLP voters are also aware that SF declined to stand in South Belfast which will greatly benefit the SDLP.

Of the 1,000 votes for the Workers Party and Greens I expect over half to go to SF. The Alliance Party may pick up some voters from the parties not standing. However, the Alliance Party is very familiar with Loyalist threats and some Alliance voters will be tempted to vote for SF.

Voting for SF is also the only way for Alliance voters to defeat Nigel Dodds and have one less pro Brexit MP. It appears the contest would be even. However, demographic changes in the 2 ½ years since 2017 would decrease the DUP by 500 and increase the SF vote by 500 so SF should win by 1,000 votes.

Only poor nationalist turnout can save Nigel Dodds.

East Belfast

The DUP easily won in 2017 with 55% of the vote. However the 2019 council elections show that this is not a certainty in the 2019 Westminster election

SF                    3.5%

SDLP                0.5%

Alliance         32%

Greens            7%

UUP               14%

DUP               34%

Unionist          9%

The Alliance Party is the only Remain Party so they should receive 43% of the vote. Unfortunately the other 9% unionist vote is mainly TUV, PUP and UKIP so it is likely that all that 9% will go to the DUP so their vote should be 43%.

The big unknown is what will happen to the 14% UUP council vote. The September Lord Ashcroft poll showed that only 21% of Protestants would vote Remain if a new EU Referendum were held. The majority of those would be Alliance, Green and SDLP voters. However, some would be UUP voters and UUP voters are probably at least 25% Remain voters.

Will some UUP voters defect to Alliance? Who will the UUP candidate be? Will there be an increased turnout of pro Remain voters to vote for Alliance in order to defeat the DUP? East Belfast voted 51% Leave but the Lord Ashcroft poll shows that support for Remain has increased from 56 % to 60%. East Belfast would now likely vote narrowly Remain.

The 4 other constituencies where a pro Remain pact could defeat the DUP are North Down, South Antrim, Upper Bann and East Derry.

To date the Alliance Party has been unwilling to participate in a pro Remain pact. This refusal will cost them a potential seat in South Antrim.

North Down

In 2017 Sylvia Hermon narrowly defeated the DUP 41.2% to 38.1%. She will not contest this election. North Down voted 52% Remain and this would likely exceed 55% in 2019. The 2019 District council election give us an indication of what will happen in the Westminster election.

SF+SDLP               0.5%

Independents      1%

Alliance               26%

Green                  14.5%

UUP                      19.5%

DUP                       30%

Other Unionist      8.5%

Most of the other unionist vote will go to the DUP so they should receive 38% as they did in 2017.

The only possible way for the DUP to lose is if there is an electoral pact among the pro Remain parties.

SF and the SDLP are not standing and they received 2.5% in 2017. SF, SDLP and Greens have already stood down in East Belfast leaving Alliance as the only Remain candidate. Alliance could reciprocate and Steven Agnew of the Greens would be the Remain candidate.

Since the combined vote of the Remain parties in 2019 was 42% it is possible that the DUP could be defeated. Not all Alliance voters would vote Green but most would in order to defeat the DUP.

South Antrim

These were the approximate results in the 2019 District Council election

SF                 14%

SDLP            10%

Alliance       18%

UUP              21%

DUP              28%

Unionist          9%

The DUP are the clear favourite to win with the same 7% margin they had over the UUP in 2017. The DUP vote could be as high as 35% with votes from other unionists. However, if Alliance were to contest as the only Remain candidate the outcome would be very different. The combined Alliance-SF-SDLP vote is 42% which would result in the election of an Alliance MP.

Upper Bann

SF               22.5%

SDLP          14.5%

Alliance       9%

UUP            22%

DUP            29%

Unionist       3%

The combined SF-SDLP-Alliance vote is 46% which is more than enough to defeat the DUP. Since SF and the SDLP would stand down in South Antrim, Alliance would not contest here and the Remain candidate would be either SF or the SDLP (depending on who the Remain candidate is in East Derry).

East Derry

These were the approximate results in the 2019 District Council election

SF                 22.5%

SDLP            11.5%

Nationalist    3.5%

Alliance          8.5%

UUP               13%

DUP                31%

Unionist          10%

The combined Remain party vote is 46%. Depending on who the Remain candidate is in Upper Bann either SF or the SDLP would be the Remain candidate.

Clearly with formal or informal pacts among the Remain parties 7 out of 11 DUP MPs could be defeated. The informal pacts are already in existence in South Belfast, North Belfast and East Belfast. It appears that the main obstacle to further pacts is the unwillingness of the Alliance Party to cooperate with the other Remain parties.

It is possible that if these pacts were to occur in North Down, South Antrim, Upper Bann and East Derry that the UUP would decline to stand and support the DUP candidates.

This would damage the UUP in several ways. They would decisively side with the pro Brexit DUP even though a significant number of their voters wish to Remain in the EU. They would risk losing these voters to the Alliance Party. They would also essentially concede that they are only a branch of the DUP and offer no alternative views to those of the DUP.

The Lord Ashcroft Poll- Brexit and the Border

By Faha

Lord Ashcroft this week released a poll of Northern Ireland voters this which covered opinions on Brexit and a Border Poll.

The poll was conducted in late August to early September.

Image result for border poll

There was much publicity in the media on the results of this poll, which covered attitudes towards well known political figures in the UK and Ireland as well as views on Brexit and a Border Poll.

The data was presented contrasting the views of those from a unionist or nationalist background.

However, missing from all of the media reports was the views of those who do not identify as unionist or nationalist, nor were any results presented based on the religious background of the voters.

Fortunately, the Lord Ashcroft website did contain more detailed results which I will cover here.

Voters were asked how positive or negative they felt about certain politicians on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being extremely negative and 100 extremely positive.

These are some of the interesting findings.

Catholic        No Religion         Protestant

Boris Johnson            6                        21                       78

Arlene Foster             3                          9                       67

Nigel Farage               6                        15                       60

These results highlight the polarization between the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland with Arlene Foster viewed very negatively by Catholics and even more so than Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

All 3 are viewed positively by the Protestant community. Interestingly, those with No Religion have views that are much closer to the Catholic community than the Protestant community.

Voters were asked how they would vote if there was a new EU Referendum tomorrow. Excluding non-voters the results were:

Overall        Catholic         No Religion        Protestant

Remain in EU        60%            91%                  81%                     21%

Leave EU                39%             8%                   16%                     79%

Undecided                1%            1%                     3%                        0%

The actual vote in 2016 was 56% Remain so there has been a small, but significant, shift to Remain since then. This appears to be due to more Catholics and those of No Religion switching to Remain.

There was also the all-important Border Poll question which was worded:

“If there were a Border Poll tomorrow how would you vote?”

Total     Catholic       No Religion     Protestant

Stay in UK             45%          6%                 29%                  89%

United Ireland      46%         84%                59%                   5%

Undecided               9%          10%               12%                   6%


EU Referendum Vote        Leave            Remain


Stay in UK                               87%                 16%

United Ireland                       11%                  70%

Undecided                                2%                  14%

The percentage of Catholics who would vote to Remain in the UK is very low at 6% with 10% Undecided.

The Percentage of Protestants who would vote for a United Ireland is very low at 5% with 6% Undecided.

Those with No Religion have views closer to those of Catholics and only 29% would prefer to Remain in the UK with 12% Undecided.

Those who voted to Leave the EU in 2016 are strongly in favour of Remaining in the UK at 87% but surprisingly 11% who voted Leave prefer a United Ireland. Why? These would be voters who voted Leave in 2016 but would now vote to Remain in the EU (12% of Leave voters in 2016 indicated in this poll that they would switch to Remain in the EU in a new referendum).

There were also some republican voters in 2016 who tactically voted Leave knowing it could lead to a United Ireland.

There are several other points I wish to stress from this poll. The percentage of Undecided among Catholics and those with No Religion is twice that of Protestants. Approximately 6% of the total 9% Undecided are Catholic or No Religion.

The percentage of Undecided among Leave voters is only 2% but 14% among Remain voters. Protestants who are also Leave the EU voters have all made up their mind and are all in favour of Remaining in the UK.

The 9% of voters who are Undecided are basically all Catholic, No Religion or Protestants who voted to Remain in the EU.

Of the 21% of Protestants who would vote to Remain in the EU in a new referendum I estimate half prefer to Stay in the UK and the other half are Undecided or in favour of a United Ireland.

So it is those Undecided voters who will determine the outcome of an actual Border Poll. There was also no mention of foreign national voters in the poll and foreign nationals are 10% of the voting age population and the electoral register is currently 5% foreign nationals- 3% EU nationals and 2% non EU foreign nationals.

The actual status and nature of a final Brexit is in total chaos at this moment in time and the final outcome will undoubtedly influence voter opinion on a United Ireland.

European Elections 2019

EU election 2019

By Faha

The District Council elections are over and now it is on to the European Parliament elections scheduled for May 23rd. These elections were not even on the calendar a month ago for the UK but the unexpected 6 month delay (or longer) for Brexit has forced the UK to hold European Parliamentary elections.

What will be the results of the Euro elections in Northern Ireland?

For the District Council elections there were no opinion polls so it was a challenge to predict the outcome. This is not the case with the Euro elections. Lucid Talk conducted a Euro election opinion poll this week (more on this later). However, there was one other opinion poll this month and this was the District Council election.

The sample for this “opinion poll” was 676,867 and should provide an accurate assessment on what the Euro election vote will be.

In 2014 the District Council election and Euro election were held on the same day.

However, the results indicate that not all the same voters voted in both elections. These were the results.

NI Euro 2014

You will notice the vote is identical in both elections.

They do not appear to be exactly the same voters though.  You will notice that the nationalist vote in the Euro election was 17,000 less than the council election. How could this be? Well, there were over 20,000 nationalist voters in the council elections who did not vote for SF or the SDLP and thus did not have a candidate of their 1st preference to vote for.

Many of these were PBP or dissident republican voters. Approximately ¼ did vote for SF or the SDLP. Another ¼ voted for Alliance-Green-NI21, which is why the Alliance-Green-NI21 vote was 6,000 higher in the Euro election. The other ½ (~11,000) did not vote in the Euro election.

For unionist voters it was the opposite.

There were over 100,000 TUV, UKIP and Conservative voters in the Euro election but only 40,000 from those parties in the council election.  Jim Allister may have attracted some of those extra 60,000 voters but it is likely that 30,000 to 40,000 of them had no candidate of their preferred party to vote for in the council election. Apparently 10,000 of those did not vote in the council election but did vote in the Euro election because they had the option of voting TUV-UKIP-Conservative in the Euro election, which they did not have in the council election. When all the votes and transfers were accounted for the UUP defeated the SDLP for the 3rd seat by 43,000 votes.

In 2019 the Euro election is not on the same date as the District Council election. Nevertheless, the council election should predict the outcome of the Euro election since it will be likely all the same voters. What do the results of the 2019 election tell us compared to 2014?

2019                                 2014           Change

SF                              158,579        23.4%         151,258          7,321

SDLP                            80,379        11.9%           85,603        -5,224

Aontu                            7,459           1.1%                    0          7,459

PBP                                9,478           1.4%            1,963          7,555

Ind Nationalist           25,457          3.8%           19,800         5,617

Total Nationalist      281,352      41.6%         258,624        22,728


Alliance                        77,644          11.5%        41,786        35,858

Green                           14,284           2.1%           6,354          7,930

NI21                                       0                             11,495        -11,495


UUP                              94,381       13.9%         101,375         -6,994

DUP                            161,061       23.8%         144,886         16,175

TUV                              17,586          2.6%           28,161        -10,575

PUP                                5,338          0.8%          12,553          -7,215

UKIP                               2,925         0.4%          9,313              -6,338

Conservative                1,876          0.3%          2,527                -651

Ind unionist                17,000         2.5%         10,810            6,190

Total Unionist          300,167        44.3%        309,625        -9,458


2019                2014            Change

Total Nationalist           41.6%             41.2%           +0.4%

Total Unionist               44.3%             49.3%            -5.0%

Total Nonsectarian       14.1%               9.5%           +4.6%


There were 49,000 more voters in the 2019 election compared to 2014. There were 64,000 new voters added to the electoral register since 2014 so the majority of the additional voters were new voters though some were those who did not vote in 2014. It appears that most were nationalist or Alliance-Green voters. The total unionist vote was down by 9,458 and the nationalist vote up by 22,728. The increase in the Alliance-Green vote was 43,788 or almost twice the increase in the nationalist vote. The increase in the Alliance-Green vote came from 4 sources. Probably ¼ were NI21 voters from 2014. Another ¼ would be unionist voters who defected to Alliance-Green which is why the unionist vote was down. The other ½ would be a mixture of new voters and nationalist voters who switched to Alliance-Green.

Within the nationalist vote the SDLP vote was down but this was mainly due to the votes received by the 8 former SDLP councilors who were independents or Aontu in 2019. Thus, the other non SDLP origin independent nationalist vote was unchanged. The increase in the nationalist vote was equally shared by SF, Aontu and PBP.

Among unionist parties the vote was down for all parties except the DUP. There are several reasons for the changes. The UUP decline would be moderate unionists who defected to Alliance-Green probably due to Brexit. The DUP vote was up but some of that increase was due to the fact that the minor unionist parties had fewer candidates and some of those voters in certain DEA’s choose the DUP instead. However, there was a real underlying shift to the DUP from the minor unionist parties.

There was a marked 5% decrease in the overall unionist vote since 2014. The nationalist vote was only up slightly so the 4.6% increase in the Alliance-Green came more from new voters and nationalist voters.

So what are the implications for the Euro election? To begin with the Euro election is an election throughout all of Northern Ireland and a voter has a choice of a candidate from the party of their 1st preference. The council elections on based on the DEA’s and voters sometimes cannot vote for the party of their 1st preference because there may be no candidate standing from that party. Some minor adjustments need to be made in order to make a more accurate Euro forecast.

The unionist parties had at least one unionist candidate in all except 3 DEA’s and those 3 had minimal potential unionist votes. Alliance-Green had no candidates in 9 DEA’s and I estimate based on previous elections in those DEA’s that if they did have candidates the overall nationalist vote would be 0.2% less and the unionist vote 0.1% less.

SF did not contest 14 DEA’s and the SDLP did not contest 18 DEA’s. In particular, there was a significant SDLP vote in some of those DEA’s in the past and those voters most likely voted Alliance-Green or SF (in 4 of the DEA’s). All the adjustments would increase the nationalist vote by 0.6% and the unionist would be unchanged. The Alliance-Green vote would be down 0.6%. If the same voters vote in the Euro election then one would expect the vote to be:

Nationalist           42.25%

Unionist                44.25%

Nonsectarian       13.5%

The total unionist 1st preference vote will probably be 44%. The combined TUV-UKIP-Conservative vote in 2019 was only half of what it was in 2014 so I expect a corresponding decline for those parties in the Euro election.

Jim Allister was in a stronger position in 2014 because he could attack the DUP for sharing power with SF in Stormont. He can no longer do so since the DUP refuses to back the return of Stormont.

The DUP are also strongly pro-Brexit and that is their position in Westminster so he will be in a weaker position in 2019.

The UKIP candidate Robert Hill received only 154 votes in the Macedon DEA last week so this does not bode well for UKIP. The TUV, UKIP and Conservatives polled almost 1/3 of the total unionist vote in 2014.

I expect the unionist 1st preference vote to be:

UUP                                           14%

DUP                                           23%

TUV-UKIP-Conservative           7%

Based on the 2014 transfer pattern, 1% of the 7% from the smaller parties will not transfer. In 2014 the unionist vote that did transfer went equally to the DUP and UUP. So the unionist vote after the smaller unionist parties are eliminated would be:

UUP       17%

DUP       26%

Among nationalist parties it is a little more complicated because 6.25% of the vote in the council elections went to non SDLP non SF nationalists. A small number of the 1.4% PBP will actually go to Alliance-Green.

Aontu will definitely not go to pro-choice parties such as Alliance Green. The 3.76% independent nationalist vote is mainly former SDLP or SF candidates so few will end up with Alliance-Green 1st preference. The SDLP will be a little higher due to voters who could not vote for them in those 18 DEA’s with no SDLP candidate. They will also pick up some of the independent nationalist vote, mainly those of SDLP origin.

I expect the total nationalist 1st preference vote to be 41.5% with 0.75% of the original 42.25% lost to Alliance-Green.

SF                27%

SDLP           14.5%

For the nonsectarian candidates it could be approximately

Alliance       11%

Green         2.5%

Independents   1%

The SDLP is only slightly ahead of Alliance and based on the transfer pattern in this month’s council election and 2014, the 3.5% for Green and independents would transfer:

1.75% Alliance

0.75% SDLP

0.50% UUP

0.5% non-transferable

So the vote prior to taking into account the transfer of SF and DUP surpluses would be:

SF                    27%

SDLP              15.25%

Alliance         12.75%

UUP                17.50%

DUP                26%

In 2014, 98% of the DUP surplus went to the UUP. The SF surplus was 20% non-transferable with approximately 65% eventually SDLP and 15% Alliance. So after they are distributed:

SF                 25%

SDLP             16.5%

Alliance        13%

UUP              18.5%

DUP              25%

At this point Alliance would be eliminated. In 2014 Anna Lo of Alliance had a transfer pattern of 20% to unionist parties, 45% to the SDLP and 35% non-transferable.

I do not expect that there will be more than 20% of Alliance transfers to the UUP in 2019. There was a low rate of Alliance transfers to unionist parties in the council election this month and most Alliance voters are opposed to Brexit. The question is will Alliance have a 35% non-transferable rate in 2019? I believe it is unlikely with the prominence of Brexit in this election. The Alliance non transfer rate was very low in the council elections last week. So I expect that at most 2.5% of the 13% Alliance vote will transfer to the UUP, similar to 2014. The transfer rate to the SDLP would be 6% based on the 2014 pattern but likely 8.5% or higher this year. The final vote would be based on the original 100% of the vote:

SF             25%

SDLP        25%

UUP         21%

DUP         25%

Thus this Euro election will elect 1 SF 1 SDLP and 1 UUP. The 1st preference unionist vote was only 44.3% in the council election last week. Some votes are always lost in transfer. There will be few Alliance-Green transfers available to the UUP based on the transfer pattern observed in last week’s council election.

The LucidTalk presents a slightly different picture. This poll was conducted immediately following the council elections. The unweighted results in the poll were:

SF                                    24.6%

SDLP                               11.8%

Alliance                          10.2%

Green                               4.1%

Jane Morrice                   1.3%

Neill McCann                   0.1%

UUP                                 10.6%

DUP                                 18.2%

TUV                                   7.7%

UKIP                                  1.5%

Conservative                    0.1%

Undecided (will vote)     6.7%

Non Voters                       3.1%

After the Undecided and probable nonvoters were removed the adjusted results are:

SF                                    27.2%

SDLP                                13.1%

Alliance                           11.3%

Green                               4.6%

Jane Morrice                   1.4%

Neill McCann                   0.1%

UUP                                 11.8%

DUP                                 20.2%

TUV                                   8.5%

UKIP                                  1.7%

Conservative                    0.1%

The Green preference is much higher than the 2.1% they receive in the council election. The TUV vote is also much higher than the 2.6% in the council election The increased TUV vote appears to be coming from council voters from the PUP, independent unionists and DUP as they is no absolute increase in the total unionist percentage. This may be related to Jim Allister’s high profile. It is not clear where the Green increase is coming from since there is no corresponding decline in the Alliance percentage. The poll shows a vote of 17.4% for non-sectarian candidates which is almost 4% higher than the actual council election results. The margin of error in the poll is +/- 2.6% so the real Green vote could be as low as the 2.1% in the council election. An interesting finding is the percentage of Undecided based on Constitutional Position which was:

Neutral                         14%

Slightly nationalist      12%

Slightly unionist          10%

Strongly nationalist     4%

Strongly unionist          5%

The strongly nationalist group as a whole give SF 72% and the strongly unionist give DUP-TUV-UKIP 68%. The undecided within these 2 groups are probably undecided among candidates within their respective communities. The undecided among the slightly unionist and slightly nationalist groups give slight pluralities to the UUP and SDLP respectively.  Since the percentage undecided is much lower among the strongly unionist and strongly nationalist groups the adjusted totals may be underestimating slightly the percentage for the SDLP, UUP, Alliance and Green candidates.

Second preferences for all candidates were asked and these are some of the results:


Green             47.8%

Morrice            6.0%

SDLP                25.0%

SF                       9.5%

UUP                   7.4%

DUP                    0.6%

None                  3.6%

This is a significant change from 2014. 35% of Alliance votes did not transfer to anyone in the final count and it appears this will be much lower this year. 20% of transfers went to unionist candidates in 2014 versus 8.0% this year.

Indeed SF would receive more transfers than all the unionist candidates combined.

Green Votes

Alliance              71.3%

Morrice                6.3%

SF                          9.8%

SDLP                     5.6%

Unionist               3.5%

None                    2.8%

Alliance receive a large majority of Green transfers.


Alliance              42.0%

Green                 14.5%

Morrice                1.3%

SDLP                     23.9%

None                    17.6%

SF voters are more than twice as likely to transfer to Alliance-Green rather than the SDLP.


SF                          11.4%

Alliance                71.8%

Green                     8.1%

Morrice                  4.7%

None                      2.7%

Very few SDLP voters are willing to give SF a 2nd preference.

Now I should point out that the actual council election did not confirm these findings for SF and SDLP transfers. There were only a small number of DEA’s where a SF candidate had to choose between the SDLP or Alliance-Green and a similar small number where the SDLP had to choose between SF and Alliance-Green.

In the Oldpark DEA the SDLP surplus transferred 210 to Alliance-Green and 623 to SF so ¾ of SDLP voters preferred SF to Alliance-Green. In Omagh DEA there were near equal transfers to SF and Alliance.

For SF transfers in Lisnasharragh DEA almost ¾ transferred to the SDLP and ¼ to Green. In Bann DEA 89% transferred to the SDLP and 11% Alliance. In Causeway DEA 85% transferred to the SDLP and 15% to Alliance.

If the transfer patterns in shown this poll did occur in this election this would be the results after surpluses are distributed from SF and the DUP

DUP                           25%

UUP                           16.5%

SF                                25%

SDLP                           14.5%

Alliance                      16.5%

Nontransferable         2.5%

Alliance would easily win as they would receive at least 10% of the SDLP total in transfers and would be over a quota. If for some reason the UUP and SDLP percentages were reversed then Alliance would win on UUP transfers though under quota.

Whether the council elections are more accurate or the LucidTalk poll is more accurate there will only be one unionist candidate elected- the DUP. SF will win a seat and the 3rd can only be Alliance or the SDLP. The total unionist vote will only be in the 42% to 44% range and both the council elections and LucidTalk indicate that few nonsectarian voters are willing to transfer to the UUP or any unionist candidate.

District Council Elections 2019 #1 Lisburn-Castlereagh and North Down-Ards

The District Council elections will be held on May 2nd so it is time to do an analysis for those elections. The 2014 elections were a good year for the unionist parties. Nationalist turnout was low, 7% below unionist turnout.

The seats won by party were:

DUP                           130

UUP                            88

TUV                             13

PUP                               4

UKIP                             3

Total Unionist         238

SF                              105

SDLP                           66

PBP                              1

Total Nationalist    172

Alliance                      32

Green                          3

NI21                             1

Total                           36

Independents           15

Will there be any significant changes in 2019? NI21 no longer exists and there is a new nationalist party- Aontu. There is also the major backdrop of an impending Brexit, the nature of which will greatly affect Northern Ireland. Nationalist turnout was much higher in the 2017 Assembly election, only 1% less than unionist turnout. The results in 2019 will greatly depend on whether the electorate of 2014 shows up, or that of 2017.

What is the nature of that electorate? Based on the 2011 census, all those aged 10 to 17 are now old enough to vote. Subtracted from that voting age population are the 115,000 of voting age who have died, mainly the elderly. There has also been significant inward migration of foreign nationals and significant outward migration of natives. The census gives 2 sets of data on Religion. One is Religion plus Religion brought up in. The other is stated Religion at the time of the census. My estimates for the electorate of 2019 are:

Religion and Religion Brought Up In:

Native Irish

Catholic                       42.0%

Protestant                   45.4%

None/Other                 3.6%

Non Native

Foreign Nationals        9.0%

The Catholic Protestant gap is 3.4% and this gap was almost identical to the nationalist unionist gap in the 2017 Assembly election when the gap was 4%

My estimates for the stated Religion are:

Native Irish

Catholic                       40.3%

Protestant                   40.8%

None/Other                 9.9%

Non Native

Foreign Nationals        9.0%

This dataset has been found to be more useful when questioning voters on a Border Poll. With no Brexit, the None/Other group are overwhelmingly in favour of Northern Ireland remaining in the UK.

With a Hard Brexit they are 2 to 1 in favour of a United Ireland.

I will use the Religion and Religion Brought Up In data for this election since it does not involve a Border Poll.

I estimate the actual electorate to be different for several reasons. Those with None/Other background vote at a lower rate. Also foreign nationals are only 5% of the electorate and also vote at a lower rate. If Catholic and Protestant turnout is equal in this election then this would be the voting population:

Catholic                       44.8%

Protestant                   48.2%

None/Other                 3.0%

Foreign Nationals        4.0%

Who will vote in Northern Ireland? There are also local and Euro elections in England, Scotland and Wales in May. Since Brexit has been delayed new polls have been conducted and show a massive drop in support for the Conservative Party and a large increase in support for the new Brexit Party and UKIP. Several polls have shown support for the Conservatives below 20% for the Euro election and support for UKIP and the Brexit Party between 25% and 30%. The Conservatives are being punished for failing to deliver Brexit.

However, the situation is different in Northern Ireland.

The 2019 Northern Ireland electorate is now 60% Remain in the EU. Will Northern Ireland voters punish the pro Brexit DUP?

DUP voters will not punish the DUP since polls show that 80% of their voters prefer leaving the EU with No Deal. A small percentage may defect to the UUP or Alliance-Green but the vast majority will still vote DUP. However, nationalist and nonsectarian voters may decide to punish the DUP for their support of a Hard Brexit and turn out and vote for pro EU parties. We will find out on May 2nd.


This first analysis includes the DEA’s of Lisburn- Castlereagh and North Down-Ards councils.

Killultagh- 5 seats   Quota 16.7%

2019 Electorate

Catholic          34%
Protestant      61.5 %

None/Other     4.5%


3 DUP   2 UUP   1 SF 1 SDLP 1 Alliance 1 Independent

2014 Results

SF                   13.2%

SDLP              10.8%             1 seat

Alliance           7.0%

NI21                 6.2%

DUP               44.6%             3 seats

UUP               18.2%             1 seat

Based on the demographics there should be 2 nationalist quotas here. The Catholic population has increased by 2% since 2014, which should increase the SF vote to near a quota. Nationalist turnout was also 15% higher in 2017. The NI21 vote in 2014 transferred half to Alliance, ¼ to DUP and ¼ to SDLP-SF. The UUP standing 2 candidates is a poor strategy as the UUP likely will have only 1 quota. The DUP need 50% to elect 3 and there will be very few UUP or Alliance transfers (Alliance transfers were 75% nationalist and 25% DUP in 2014) so the SDLP should obtain the 5th seat on Alliance transfers.



Change -1 DUP +1 SF

Lisburn North- 6 seats   Quota 14.3%

2019 Electorate

Catholic           26%
Protestant       67.5 %

None/Other      6.5%


3 DUP 2 UUP 1 UKIP 1 Conservative 1 SF 1 SDLP 1 Alliance

2014 Results

SF                    7.5%

SDLP               7.0%

Alliance          10.8%          1 seat

NI21                  8.6%          1 seat

DUP               37.5%           3 seats

UUP               15.5%           1 seat

TUV                  4.5%

PUP                  3.1%

UKIP                 5.1%

Other                0.5%

Based on the demographics there could be 2 nationalist seats here. However, nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout (33% vs 45%). The SF vote was higher than the SDLP vote but the SDLP candidate in 2019 is the NI21 candidate who was elected in 2014. While not all of his vote as NI21 will go to the SDLP the majority will. There are no PUP or TUV candidates in 2019 and most their votes will go to UKIP, UUP or DUP. If nationalist turnout equaled unionist turnout and the SF vote exceeded the Alliance vote then SF could elect one here. More likely the SDLP and Alliance candidates will be elected on SF transfers and Alliance will pick up enough NI21 votes to be close to a 1st count quota.



3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance 1 SDLP

Change -1 NI21 +1 SDLP

Lisburn South- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

2019 Electorate

Catholic          22%
Protestant      61 %

None/Other     7%


4 DUP 2 UUP 1 TUV 1 UKIP 1 Ind Unionist 1 SF 1 SDLP 1 Alliance 1 Independent

2014 Results

SF                       0%

SDLP               6.8%

Alliance          6.9%           1 Alliance

Green              2.2%

NI21                 8.9%

DUP               53.6%          4 seats

UUP               14.0%          1 seat

TUV                  7.5%

The demographics here indicate there is well over 1 nationalist quota. For some unknown reason this DEA has the lowest nationalist turnout, only 20%, of any DEA in all of Northern Ireland that has a nationalist candidate. There are 600 EU nationals on the register here and if the SDLP can persuade even a minority of those to vote for a pro EU party and against the pro Brexit unionist parties then the SDLP vote should increase significantly. SF is not standing a candidate here.


3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance 1 SDLP

Change -1 DUP +1 SDLP

Downshire West- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

2019 Electorate

Catholic          15%
Protestant      77 %

None/Other     8%


3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Conservative 1 Green 1 SDLP 1 Alliance

2014 Results

SDLP               4.0%

Alliance          8.5%              1 seat

Green              2.1%

NI21                 6.1%

DUP               34.6%              2 seats

UUP               27.4%              2 seats

TUV                  5.8%

UKIP                 5.0%

Conservative  6.5%

There is no nationalist quota here. Alliance will elect one on additional votes from NI21 voters and transfers from the SDLP and Greens. There are no TUV or UKIP candidates in 2019 and their votes will increase the DUP and UUP 1st preferences.


2 DUP 2 UUP 1 Alliance

Downshire East- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

Catholic          14.5%
Protestant      78.0 %

None/Other     7.5%


3 DUP 2 UUP 1 SDLP 1 Alliance

2014 Results

SDLP               0.0%

Alliance          11.5%         1 seat

NI21               11.6%

DUP               47.2%           3 seats

UUP               19.5%           1 UUP

TUV                  6.9%

UKIP                 3.3%

I expect no change here. Alliance should be elected on the 1st count.

Prediction    3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance

Castlereagh South- 7 seats Quota 12.5%

Catholic          46.5%
Protestant      46.5%

None/Other     7%


3 DUP 1 UUP 1 TUV 2 Alliance 1 Green 1 Independent 2 SDLP 1 SF

2014 Results

SF                      9.9%

SDLP               22.7%          2 seats

Alliance          23.3%            2 seats

NI21                 4.4%

DUP               22.2%              2 seats

UUP               11.1%              1 UUP

TUV                  6.4%

This is one of more fascinating elections for 2019. Much of this has to do with the turmoil within the Alliance Party. Both of the Alliance candidates elected in 2014, Geraldine Rice and Vasundhara Kamble, are standing for election this time but not as Alliance candidates. Rice is running as an independent and Kamble for the DUP! They also signed each other’s nomination papers so must be on good terms with each other. There are 2 different Alliance candidates. SF was only 200 votes short of a quota in 2014. It is likely that the SF candidate will be elected on the 1st count in 2019 for 2 reasons. The nationalist vote was 15 % higher in the 2017 Assembly election compared to 2014. The nationalist electorate has also increased by 2% since 2014. I expect that both the SDLP and Alliance vote will be short of 2 quotas. However, both will benefit from transfers from Rice and the Greens. The UUP 1st preference vote will be less than 10% but in 2014 half the TUV vote transferred to the UUP and there will be some transfers from Rice so the UUP should elect one. The DUP total vote will be in the 20% range and with only 1/3 of the TUV vote transferring to the DUP (as in 2014) they will be short of 2 quotas.


1 DUP 1 UUP 2 Alliance 2 SDLP 1 SF

Change -1 DUP +1 SF.

Castlereagh East- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic          6%
Protestant     87 %

None/Other     7%

Candidates 4 DUP 1 UUP 1 TUV 2 Alliance

2014 Results

Alliance          12.5%              1 seat

Green              6.7%

NI21                 3.7%

DUP               48.4%               3 seats

UUP                 8.8%                1 seat

TUV                 10.4%              1 seat

PUP                   7.5%

Unionist            2.1%

If the Alliance party could tap into the anti Brexit vote here they could elect 2 but the combined unionist vote is over 5 quotas. The UUP vote in East Belfast has been declining since 2014 and the UUP barely edged out the 4th DUP candidate in 2014. The only way the UUP could win would be if the Alliance candidates are poorly balanced and one is eliminated before the UUP and the UUP receives enough of the Alliance surplus.


4 DUP 1 TUV 1 Alliance

Change +1 DUP -1 UUP

Overall this council will elect 2 more SF and 1 SDLP with 3 fewer DUP


North Down-Ards

This council is includes all of the North Down Westminster constituency and most of the Strangford constituency.  North Down voted 53% Remain and this result could impact the vote in the council election. One surprise here is that the SDLP have essentially abandoned competing in the council, contesting only one seat in Ards Peninsula.

Ards Peninsula- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic          22.5%
Protestant      70.5%

None/Other     7%

Candidates 3 DUP 1 UUP 1 UKIP 1 Conservative 1 Alliance 1 Green 1 SDLP 1 SF

2014 Results


SF                      5.4%

SDLP               19.2%        1 seat

Alliance           8.1%          1 seat

NI21                 1.6%

DUP                 47.1%         3 seats

UUP                 16.6%         1 seat

Conservative    2.2%

Good nationalist turnout here. There is unlikely to be any change. The only conceivable path for a seat for SF would be if the SDLP vote declined to the 15% range and the SF vote increased to 10%. SF were 300 votes behind Alliance in the next to last count and the Alliance total included almost 200 SDLP transfers. Alliance will probably have a higher 1st count vote since they will attract anti Brexit unionists.


3 DUP 1 UUP 1 Alliance 1 SDLP

Comber- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

Catholic          6.5%
Protestant      86.5%

None/Other     7%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 TUV 1 Ind unionist 1 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance          13.2%        1 seat

NI21                 2.7%

DUP               39.2%          2 seats

UUP                 22.1%        1 seat

TUV                   9.3%         1 seat

UKIP                  6.9%

Conservative    6.6%

The TUV barely edged out the DUP for the last seat by 40 votes. However, there is no UKIP candidate this time and much of their vote will go to the to the TUV 1st preference.


2 DUP 1 UUP 1 TUV 1 Alliance

Newtownards- 7 seats Quota 12.5%

Catholic              9%
Protestant      82.5%

None/Other      8.5%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 UKIP 2 Ind unionists 2 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance             12.7%         1 seat

NI21                     3.1%

DUP                   35.7%          3 seats

UUP                   15.2%          2 seats

TUV                     6.4%

Unionist             25.3%         1 seat

Conservative       1.5%

There will be no change here. Menagh will top the poll and 90% of his surplus will go to unionist candidates.


3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Unionist (Menagh) 1 Alliance

Bangor East and Donaghadee- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic               8.5%
Protestant        84%

None/Other       7.5%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Conservative 1 Ind unionist 1 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance          9.8%           1 seat

Green              3.9%

NI21                 2.6%

DUP                32.4%         3 seats

UUP                 18.9%        1 seat

TUV                   5.3%

UKIP                  5.4%

Unionist            19.2%        1 seat

Conservative      2.6%


Alan Chamber was elected with over a quota as an independent in 2014 but in 2019 he is standing for the UUP. Not all of his vote will go with him but enough should to elect 2 UUP. With no UKIP or TUV candidates the DUP should elect 3.


3 DUP 2 UUP 1 Alliance

Change +1 UUP -1 Independent

Bangor Central- 6 seats Quota 14.3%

Catholic               12%
Protestant           77%

None/Other        11%

Candidates 3 DUP 2 UUP 1 UKIP 1 Conservative 4 independents 1 Alliance 1 Green

2014 Results

Alliance             12.8%           1 seat

Green                  7.6%            1 seat

NI21                     2.7%

DUP                   28.0%            2 seats

UUP                   15.7%            1 seat

TUV                     4.6%

UKIP                    5.9%

Unionist            20.3%

Conservative      2.6%

I expect the 1st preference Alliance and Green vote to go up as more voters vote for anti-Brexit parties. The UUP elected 2 in 2014 though their 1st preference voter was slightly over 1 quota. However, they have no competition from the TUV and UKIP this time so their 1st preference vote should be higher and they will receive transfers from the many independents.


2 DUP 2 UUP 1 Alliance 1 Green

Bangor West- 5 seats Quota 16.7%

Catholic               15%
Protestant           76%

None/Other         9%

Candidates 2 DUP 1 UUP 1 Conservative 2 Alliance 1 Green 1 SF

2014 Results

SDLP                     4.9%

Alliance              17.3%        1 seat

Green                  6.4%          1 seat

NI21                     6.4%

DUP                   31.9%           2 seats

UUP                   16.2%           1 seat

TUV                     9.1%

Unionist              3.1%

Conservative      7.2%

There is no TUV candidate this time so all DUP and UUP candidates will be elected on the 1st count. The Green candidate won only because of poor balancing between the 2 Alliance candidates, a mistake that will not be repeated this year.


2 DUP 1 UUP 2 Alliance

Change +1 Alliance -1 Green

Holywood and Clandeboye- 5 seats Quota 16.7 %

Catholic               18.5%
Protestant           71.5%

None/Other         10%

Candidates 2 DUP 2 UUP 1 Conservative 2 Alliance 1 Green



2014 Results

SDLP                     5.0%

Alliance              22.2%          1 seat

Green                  14.9%          1 seat

NI21                     3.4%

DUP                   31.9%            2 seats

UUP                   17.8%            1 seat

Conservatives    4.3%

Unionist               0.6%

This DEA would have voted over 60% Remain and this will change the vote here. In 2014 the 2nd Alliance candidate was only 195 votes behind the 2nd DUP. With no NI21 or SDLP candidates the Green candidate should be elected on the 1st count. There will be an increased Alliance vote coming from anti-Brexit voters which will elect 2 Alliance.


1 DUP 1 UUP 2 Alliance 1 Green

Change   -1 DUP     +1 Alliance

Overall for this council 2 more Alliance and one less each for DUP and Greens