Recent Polls, Results, Demographics and 2022 election implications


By Faha

There was an opinion poll released by LucidTalk earlier this month.

It covered multiple issues.

One question asked was “ NI ASSEMBLY ELECTION: If an NI Assembly Election were to be held tomorrow which political party would you vote for as FIRST PREFERENCE? – Excluding Don’t Know/Undecideds “.

I will analyze these findings and comment on different aspects of the poll.

Potential voters were asked what their voter preference would be for an Assembly election. The results were weighted by “likelihood to vote”. I will compare those preferences with the actual 2019 Westminster election results.

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Assembly Westminster 2019 Difference

SF 23.8% 22.7% +1.1%

SDLP 12.5% 14.8% -2.3%

PBP 2.1% 1.0% +1.1%

Aontu 1.5% 1.2% +0.3%

Alliance 15.5% 16.8% -1.3%

Green 2.5% 0.2% +2.3%

Independents 0.7% 0.2% +0.5%

UUP 11.5% 11.6% -0.1%

DUP 22.4% 30.5% -8.1%

TUV 6.4% 0.0% +6.4%

Other Unionist 1.1% 0.9% +0.2%

Voters were asked about their actual votes in the 2017 Assembly election, and of the 95% who indicated they actually voted in that election, voters preferences were almost exactly identical to the results in that election.

The 2019 Westminster results are not completely comparable to an Assembly preference since minor parties did not compete in all Westminster constituencies. Indeed, there were no TUV Westminster candidates in 2019. The differences in party preference for an Assembly election and the actual Westminster 2019 results are not statistically significant with one exception.

The DUP vote would be 8% lower in an Assembly election and the TUV vote would be 6.4% higher. It should be noted that the 6.4% preference for the TUV is more than twice their 2017 Assembly vote (2.6%).

There were some interesting results on voter preference by Religion background. The sample was listed as:

Protestant 47.3%

Catholic 37.5%

None 13.2%

Other 1.9%

For Protestant voters Assembly preference was:

Unionist 80%

Alliance-Green 14%

Nationalist 6%

For Catholic voters Assembly preference was:

Unionist 1%

Alliance-Green 15%

Nationalist 84 %

For No Religion voters Assembly preference was:

Unionist 17%

Alliance-Green 36%

Nationalist 42%

If one looks at voter preference in polls prior to Brexit only 1% of Catholics would vote for a unionist party and only 1% of Protestants would vote for a nationalist party. While 1% of Catholics still prefer a unionist party the percentage of Protestants who would vote for a nationalist party (mainly SDLP) has increased to 6%. Protestant voters now account for more than 15% of the total SDLP vote.

Another change is that prior to Brexit No Religion voters generally voted 40% unionist, 40% Alliance-Green and 20% nationalist. That voter group has changed dramatically with only 17% willing to vote unionist. That voter group now has a 29% SF preference.

What are the implications for a 2022 Assembly election?

I wish to point out that the demographics of Religion in this poll has a higher proportion of Protestants and a lower proportion of Catholics. We will not know the results of the 2021 census until 2022. However, it is possible to extrapolate from the 2011 census. We know that all those aged 9 to 17 are now old enough to vote. We also know the number of deaths since that census (mainly elderly voters). It appears that the current voting age population is approximately

14% No Religion/Other

44% Protestant

42% Catholic

The total unionist vote was 43% in the 2019 Westminster election. With the 2022 voting age demographics it may be only 40%. This is not only due to demographic changes but also to the significant increase in Protestants who are voting for Alliance, Green and nationalist parties.

The collapse in support for unionist parties among those voters with No Religion is also contributing significantly to the decline of the unionist vote.

To illustrate the implications of these changes in voter preference I will look at the vote in several constituencies in the 2019 Westminster election. For an Assembly election 1 quota is 16.6% and 2 quotas are 33.3%

Strangford

DUP 47.2%

UUP 10.7%

Other Unionist 4.7%

Alliance 28.4%

Green 2.1%

SDLP 5.3%

SF 1.5%

Alliance has 28.4%. The combined Green, SDLP, SF vote is 9% so a 2nd Alliance candidate would easily be elected on their transfers with a net loss of one unionist seat.

East Antrim

DUP 45.3%

UUP 14.7%

Conservative 2.8%

Alliance 27.3%

Green 1.8%

SDLP 2.4%

SF 5.7%

The Alliance vote is 27.3%. The combined Green, SDLP and SF vote is 10% so a 2nd Alliance candidate would easily be elected with their transfers with a net loss on one unionist seat.

North Antrim

DUP 47.4%

UUP 18.5%

Unionist 0.6%

Alliance 14.1%

SDLP 6.7%

SF 12.8%

The combined Alliance, SDLP, SF vote is 33.6% and the SDLP candidate would be eliminated and their transfers would elect a SF and Alliance candidate with a net loss of one unionist seat.

East (London)Derry

DUP 40.1%

UUP 9.2%

Alliance 15.1%

SDLP 15.7%

SF 15.6%

Aontu 4.4%

The SDLP and SF are only 1% short of a quota but would receive some Aontu transfers so would each elect one. Alliance is an unlikely source for the remaining 2.4% of Aontu transfers but could receive some in tactical transfers. Alliance would certainly receive enough UUP transfers to reach the quota. There would be a net loss of one unionist seat.

Foyle

DUP 10.1%

UUP 2.3%

Alliance 2.7%

SDLP 57%

SF 20.7%

PBP 2.8%

Aontu 4.3%

The combine unionist vote is 4.2% less than a quota so there would be a loss of the DUP seat.

Upper Bann

DUP 41%

UUP 12.4%

Alliance 12.9%

SDLP 9.2%

SF 24.6%

There were 3,350 more unionist votes than Alliance-SDLP-SF votes. However, there are 7,500 EU nationals on the electoral register here that were not permitted to vote in the Westminster election. If half vote in an Assembly election then the unionist vote would be less than 50%. There would also be some UUP transfers to Alliance so an Alliance candidate could be elected with a net loss of one unionist seat.

East Belfast

DUP 49.2%

UUP 5.9%

Alliance 44.9%

Alliance would receive some UUP transfers. Whether the 3rd unionist seat would be lost will depend on how many of the 2,400 SF and SDLP voters who voted in the Assembly election but may not have voted in the Westminster election will narrow the gap. There are also 2,400 EU nationals on the electorate here.

North Down

DUP 37.9%

UUP 12.1%

Conservative 4.8%

Alliance 45.2%

A 3rd non unionist seat is further away here. However, if the UUP vote declines further the UUP candidate could be eliminated and a 3rd non unionist could be elected on UUP transfers.

Overall, the 2019 Westminster results and the results of the LucidTalk poll indicate a loss of 5 unionist seats in an Assembly election with a possible loss of up to 8 seats.

Alliance would be the main beneficiary of those losses.

Endgame approaches


I’ve been very quiet for a long time I know.

My reasons for that are many but I suppose the reason that underpins it is the uncertainties of these days we are all living through. The virus issues are complex and game-changing for us in the north eastern part of this island as we are now seeing. The Democratic Road To A Reunited Ireland – AN SIONNACH FIONN

Overlaid with the Brexit situation, I think it is fair to say that the days ahead will be unpredictable to say the least. Shifting borders, shifting political allegiences, shifting sands of certainty and demographic change will define our future.

Next year we will have another census. The results will be, shall we say, interesting. There will be two demographic uncertainties that I will be most interested in.

The first will be the numbers who declare as neither nationalist nor loyalist inclined Irish (or British) citizens.

Many of this group will be post GFA born and will have a natural antipathy to being defined by their percieved alleigience to one side or the other. That is their right in a republic and I fully respect it.

The only, and obvious problem, is that they don’t yet live in a republic. They are subjects of an unelected monarch rather than full citizens of a country that elects its head of state.

The historical reasons for this are well documented and discussed. For any readers that wish to research this I’d suggest the 1918 election in Ireland (pre- partition) as a good starting point.

The second point of interest will be the volume of formerly pro unionist people who will engage in reunification consideration and conversations.

Living, as I do, in North Down, it is striking how many people actually consider reunification as a matter of when, not if. They regard the prospect not with horror or fear but with an interest in serious political practicalities. The NHS/HSE, Housing, Welfare, the Homeless, the Economy. These are serious questions and deserving of serious discussions involving all of us.

For some time, i’ve had an ongoing discussion with a serious journalist regarding the question of a Border poll and when to hold it. I think it would be fair to say we disagree on certain points. This journalist believes holding on for a decisive vote is preferable to pushing for a vote tomorrow which may pass with a narrow majority. A valid view.

Naturally, I want a vote tomorrow.

The tide of demographic change is irreversable at this stage and the demographic defecit in the north east of Ireland  that is now so obvious to an international as well as a national audience, means that the changes are being exercised by external means.

Our days of being victims are over.

Our days of rejoining the Irish nation are close.

That will require bravery and serious thinking about our path ahead.

 

The Border Poll


By Faha

A poll was recently published by thedetail.tv 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

SF

181853

22.76%

SDLP

118737

14.86%

Aontu

9814

1.23%

PBP

7526

0.94%

Nationalist

690

0.09%

39.88%

Nationalist

Alliance

134115

16.78%

Green

1996

0.25%

17.13%

Other

Independent

751

0.09%

UUP

93123

11.65%

DUP

244127

30.55%

Other Unionist

6302

0.79%

43.00%

Unionist

Total

799,034

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.

Foyle

SF

9,771

20.73%

SDLP

26,881

57.02%

Aontu

2,032

4.31%

PBP

1,332

2.83%

Alliance

1,267

2.69%

Green

0.00%

UUP

1,088

2.31%

DUP

4,773

10.12%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

47,144

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

SF

6,128

15.59%

SDLP

6,158

15.67%

Aontu

1,731

4.40%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

5,921

15.07%

Green

0.00%

UUP

3,599

9.16%

DUP

15,765

40.11%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

39,302

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

SF

16,544

40.17%

SDLP

7,330

17.80%

Aontu

972

2.36%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

3,979

9.66%

Green

521

1.26%

UUP

2,774

6.74%

DUP

9,066

22.01%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

41,186

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

SF

20,473

45.88%

SDLP

6,384

14.31%

Nationalist

690

1.55%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

3,526

7.90%

Green

0.00%

UUP

2,611

5.85%

DUP

10,936

24.51%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

44,620

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

SF

21,986

43.31%

SDLP

3,446

6.79%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

2,650

5.22%

Independent

751

1.48%

UUP

21,929

43.20%

DUP

0.00%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

50762

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

SF

20,287

39.95%

SDLP

9,449

18.61%

Aontu

1,628

3.21%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

4,211

8.29%

Green

0.00%

UUP

4,204

8.28%

DUP

11,000

21.66%

Other Unionist

0.00%

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

SF

12,291

24.56%

SDLP

4,623

9.24%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,433

12.85%

Green

0.00%

UUP

6,197

12.38%

DUP

20,501

40.97%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

50,045

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

SF

16,137

32.43%

SDLP

14,517

29.17%

Aontu

1,266

2.54%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,916

13.90%

Green

0.00%

UUP

3,307

6.65%

DUP

7,619

15.31%

Other Unionist

0.00%

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

SF

5,632

12.79%

SDLP

2,943

6.68%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,231

14.14%

Green

0.00%

UUP

8,139

18.48%

DUP

20,860

47.35%

Other Unionist

246

0.56%

Total

44,051

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

SF

2,120

5.69%

SDLP

902

2.42%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

10,165

27.28%

Green

685

1.84%

UUP

5,475

14.69%

DUP

16,871

45.28%

Other Unionist

1,043

2.80%

Total

37,261

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

SF

4,887

11.37%

SDLP

2,288

5.32%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

8,190

19.06%

Green

0.00%

UUP

12,460

28.99%

DUP

15,149

35.25%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

42,974

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

Lagan Valley

SF

1,098

2.42%

SDLP

1,758

3.87%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

13,087

28.82%

Green

0.00%

UUP

8,606

18.95%

DUP

19,586

43.14%

Other Unionist

1,270

2.80%

Total

45,405

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.

Strangford

SF

555

1.48%

SDLP

1,994

5.32%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

10,634

28.37%

Green

790

2.11%

UUP

4,023

10.73%

DUP

17,705

47.23%

Other Unionist

1784

4.76%

Total

37,485

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

SF

0.00%

SDLP

0.00%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

18,358

45.17%

Green

0.00%

UUP

4,936

12.14%

DUP

15,390

37.87%

Other Unionist

1,959

4.82%

Total

40,643

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

Alliance

19,055

44.89%

Green

0.00%

UUP

2,516

5.93%

DUP

20,874

49.18%

Other Unionist

Total

42445

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

SF

SDLP

27,079

57.19%

Aontu

550

1.16%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

6,786

14.33%

Green

0.00%

UUP

1,259

2.66%

DUP

11,678

24.66%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

47352

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

SF

23,078

47.06%

SDLP

0.00%

Aontu

0.00%

PBP

0.00%

Alliance

4,824

9.84%

Green

0.00%

UUP

0.00%

DUP

21,135

43.10%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

49,037

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

SF

20,866

53.80%

SDLP

2,985

7.70%

Aontu

1,635

4.22%

PBP

6,194

15.97%

Alliance

1,882

4.85%

Green

0.00%

UUP

0.00%

DUP

5,220

13.46%

Other Unionist

0.00%

Total

38,782

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%

Religion

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.