More statistics…

Is the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers’ commissioned poll [At what cost? – Ed] any more rigorous than the NIO’s? Who knows? The questions certainly don’t appear to be. As spotted by “thedissenter” in the comments zone here, the polling company chosen, Red Circle Communications, was set up in 2007 by former head of communications for the Scottish Labour Party, Steven Lawther. The polling report, dated 4th March, is here [pdf file]. BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport finds something of value in it.

That said there is some interesting stuff in the OFMDFM survey about people’s desire for the First and Deputy First to work together, and the gap between this aspiration and how well people think the Executive is doing its job. Additionally less than half those interviewed felt well informed about what the Executive is doing (maybe that’s my fault!)

Heh.Mark also points out something to keep in mind if you’re going to take seriously what Shaun Woodward had to say about “those who had indicated support for the UUP” – he hadn’t anything to say about any other parties.

There have long been doubts about the reliability of NI polls when it comes to voting intentions and this is maybe born out by an equally surprising set of low figures for Sinn Fein in comparison to the SDLP. I don’t know how many people in the NIO commissioned survey declined to answer, but I gather that in the OFMDFM poll 26% of those who were interviewed over the phone refused to say which party they backed, whilst 13% gave no affiliation. [added emphasis]

So, as ever, a note of caution. But these are the figures given me unofficially.

NIO commissioned poll

DUP 26%
SDLP 21%
TUV 1%
PUP 1%
UUP 14%
Alliance 8%
Green 4%
Conservative 2%
Workers Party 2%
RSF 1%

OFMDFM Commissioned Poll

DUP 30%
UUP 19%
SDLP 19%
SF 16%
Alliance 11%
TUV 2%
PUP 1%
Others 3%

  • As I also said on Brian Walkers earlier piece, updated for knowing a little more:
    20.A poll is only a snapshot of how people are thinking if the following is provided. You can only properly evaluate a poll if you know:

    The dates the poll were taken;
    The number questioned (so +/- margin of error can be assessed; and the number of those declaring to be party voters/members;
    The actual questions asked, whether these were predicated with a statement to set context, and the order in which they were asked.

    If you don’t know that info then any ‘unoffical’ briefing needs to be treated very cautiously. Wrong to even speculate on numbers without that info. Those parties outside OFMDFM should be irate that such info is not made public as background insight (voting intentions have been obtained and not released) is relevant to understanding the information, but more importantly if unreleased means what amounts to private polling is being undertaken close to an election at public expense.

    As the OFMDFM information was gathered council area by area (page 4) then that could be very interesting – though the numbers are low for each area to be statistically sure of anything – but it might be indicative. Nor would the release of reviewed data be adequate. Parties should be demanding access to the raw data and running their own analysis.

  • Mark McGregor


    It also really demonstrates how presentation of a question can affect outcome:

    Overall, do you support or oppose the agreement to transfer policing and justice powers to the Executive at Stormont? – Yes 72%

    Twist the question a bit:

    I believe we should transfer policing and justice powers to Stormont so that the Executive can get on with the job of improving life for everyone in Northern Ireland – Yes 82%

    They’ve just perfectly demonstrated how polls are manipulated on one level.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    I think there is a natural reticence to publicly admit to supporting SF.
    In part this is as explained by the refusal to answer.
    Nationalism/Republicanism is always under-represented at 35% to 38%
    and of course in these fantasy elections Alliance do very well 8% to 11%.

  • Pete Baker

    Yes, Mark.

    And the excessive costs involved in the duplication of services.

    Scrap OFMDFM! ;o)

  • Mark McGregor


    Just realised the first question begins ‘Overall’ – it can include those who support transfer in the futur.. At no point do they ask ‘Do you support transfer now?’.

    They asked the questions to get the result they wanted/needed.

  • slug

    TUV seems to have have done very poorly!

  • slug


    “Just realised the first question begins ‘Overall’ – it can include those who support transfer in the futur.. At no point do they ask ‘Do you support transfer now?’. They asked the questions to get the result they wanted/needed”

    You are totally right!

  • slug

    I wonder if the NIO poll was a poll of people at the NIO? From Sir Jonathan downwards.

  • Guys, the interesting info is what they haven’t released but are ‘unofficially releasing IN PART.

  • joeCanuck

    Well, at least the two polls are reasonably consistent.