Mind the gap : Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey and Reality

The Northern Ireland Life and Time surveys are often quoted in debates on Northern Ireland, so it might be an instructive exercise to compare how the survey on political attitudes stacks up against the harsh reality of the results of a ballot – last weeks European elections in Northern Ireland.Reality Gap 1

NILT says 40% of people in Northern Ireland do not regard themselves as Unionist or Nationalist

European Elections say 8.8% of voters vote for parties that are not Unionist or Nationalist.

With a Single Transferrable Vote, voters could have voted for their non-tribal party of choice, before transferring to their least worst tribal candidate.

Reality Gap 2

NILT says There are 50% more Unionists than Nationalists in Northern Ireland (12 is 50% of 24)

European Elections say There are 16% more Unionist voters than Nationalist voters in Northern Ireland. (6.8 is 16.11% of 42.2)

Reality Gap 3

NILT says their margin of error is +/- 2.85%!


Despite the low turn out there were 486,914 more participants in the European elections than in the NILT survey.

Adds: The inspiration for this entry was a conversion with Andrew Gallagher here

No bio, some books worth reading – The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves – Matt Ridley .

Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance -Nouriel Roubini, Stephen Mihm