The blog below is by my long time collaborator Faha 

As always, it is forensic and based upon the known facts. To be honest the speed at which things are changing here is almost overwhelming. I wish the peerless Horseman was still with us to witness how this endgame is playing out.

The title of the blog is mine inspired by Christy Moore and Faha’s final line. I’ll not spoil it for you.

Over to Faha. BD

Counting Votes

An opinion poll was conducted from August 24th through August 28th by Deltapoll. Deltapoll was commissioned by 2 groups, Best for Britain and Our Future Our Choice, and the poll was an online poll of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

LucidTalk in Northern Ireland did the actual polling for Deltapoll in Northern Ireland. The final unweighted sample was 1,199 voters which was weighted to 993 voters to adjust for over representation and under representation of certain demographics and the turnout changes in recent elections.

Voters were asked this question:

Do you consider yourselves to come from a Nationalist or Unionist Heritage?

The results were:

Unionist          47.3%

Nationalist      42.0%

Neither              9.3%

Other                 1.4%

This sample appears to approximate the electorate in the 2017 Assembly and Westminster elections. The vote for unionist candidates in the Assembly election was 3.7% higher than that for nationalist candidates and in the Westminster election the vote for unionist candidates was 7.2% higher than that for nationalist candidates. The average for the 2 elections is 5.0 % which is very close to the 5.3% difference in this sample.

Voters were asked how they voted in the 2017 Westminster election and 2016 EU Referendum. They were also asked how they would vote if a new EU Referendum was held. 1% of those who voted Remain would switch to Leave and 7% of those who voted Leave would switch to Remain. This is only a small change and would increase the Remain vote from 56% in 2016 to 58.5%. However, those who did not vote in the 2016 election would vote 83% Remain and only 9% Leave if a new vote was held. This is significant and I will return to this point later.

Voters were also asked how they would vote on a referendum on a United Ireland under 3 different scenarios.

The first scenario is that the UK somehow remains in the EU and the results were:

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

52%

United Ireland

35%

Undecided

11%

With the UK remaining in the EU support for a United Ireland is only 35%.

The 2nd scenario asked voters how they would vote if the UK leaves the EU and the results were:

 

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

39.9%

United Ireland

52.9%

Undecided

7.1%

The 3rd scenario asked voters how they would vote if the UK leaves the EU and there is a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and the results were:

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

39.8%

United Ireland

56.4%

Undecided

3.6%

With a hard border there is no change in the percentage that wish to remain in the UK but half the undecideds would switch to voting in favour of a United Ireland.

The breakdown by Constitutional Position (heritage background) is:

Nationalist

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

1.9%

United Ireland

96.4%

Undecided

1.7%

Unionist

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

77.1%

United Ireland

16.9%

Undecided

6.0%

Neither/Other

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

22.2%

United Ireland

75.9%

Undecided

1.9%

In the Lord Ashcroft and Lucid Talk polls from May 2018 support for a United Ireland among nationalists was in the 85% to 90% range with many undecided and support for remaining in the UK in the 4% to 7% range. The undecided have uniformly shifted in favour of a United Ireland. What little support there was among nationalist voters to remain in the UK has almost entirely disappeared.

There has also been a marked shift among those who are neither unionist nor nationalist.

Support for a United Ireland was in the 36% to 50% range in the May polls and is now 75%. Even excluding those who are Other (foreign nationals) from this group support for a United Ireland is over 70%.

There has also been a significant increase in support for a United Ireland among those from a unionist background which is at 17% in this poll.

This is double that in the May polls. However, I wish to point out that there are 2 very different subgroups within the unionist population. This poll shows that unionists (large U) who vote for unionist parties are only 2% in favour of a United Ireland. This group is ¾ of all unionists. Small u unionists (those who vote Alliance, Green, PBP, SDLP, etc.) or who were nonvoters have a majority that are in favour of a United Ireland. This is an important distinction that has developed.

Those who are nationalists will vote overwhelmingly for a United Ireland. They will vote this way whether they are nationalists who vote for nationalist parties or vote for nonsectarian parties. Those who are neither nationalist nor unionist are also now strongly in favour of a United Ireland. The unionist population electorate differs from the nationalist electorate in one significant way. Nationalists who vote for nationalist parties are only 2% in favour of remaining in the UK.  Unionists who vote for unionist parties are only 2% in favour of a United Ireland.

However, unlike their nationalist counterparts, small u unionists who do not vote for unionist parties are who are nonvoters now have a majority that are in favour of a United Ireland. Of the overall 3.6% of all voters who are still undecided only 0.1% of that are voters who voted for a unionist party. The other 3.5% are voters who voted for nonsectarian or nationalist parties or were nonvoters.

Now some may claim that small u unionists who have not voted in recent elections do not matter if they do not vote. Turnout for the EU referendum, Assembly and Westminster elections was 800,000. The turnout for a Border Poll will be much higher. The GFA referendum has a turnout of 80% of the voting age population. The Scotland independence referendum had a turnout of 85% of the voting age population. Similar turnouts for a Border Poll would have between 1,200,000 and 1,300,000 voters. That is an extra 400,000 to 500,000 voters.

The extra nationalist community voters will vote overwhelmingly for a United Ireland. Foreign national voters will vote overwhelmingly for a United Ireland.  The extra voters from neither community will vote 75% in favour of a United Ireland. The extra unionist voters will have significant minority in favour of a United Ireland.

This poll also noted a strong correlation between those who wish to remain in the EU and voting for a United Ireland (88% yes vs 7% no). There was also a strong correlation between those who wish to leave the EU and voting to remain in the UK (87% vs 12%). In the 2016 EU referendum constituencies such as North Down, Lagan Valley, East Antrim, Strangford, South Antrim and East Belfast had votes in favour of remaining in the EU that were much higher than the non unionist vote  in Westminster and Assembly elections.

This is an indication that there were many small u unionists (as well as some nationalist and neither voters) who voted in the EU referendum that usually do not vote. Indeed North Down had the highest turnout of all constituencies in the EU referendum while it usually has the lowest turnout in other elections.

This is only one poll. There will probably be more in November and December when the final nature of Brexit will be known.

If subsequent polls confirm that there is a majority of Northern Ireland voters in favour of a United Ireland then a Border Poll should be called for next April or May.

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