Bel Tel figures from the LucidTalk poll are well worth extracting from Liam Clarke’s article (finally coming online this morning from yesterday). The first thing to note is the absence of any significant deviation from the election results, which in my experience of NI polls is first.
Mind you, this is a more than respectable sample and not the 500 or 600 polls we have had before which suffer from massive distortional error rates. In truth though, there’s not much change.
DUP 30.7% (30.0%)
Sinn Fein 28% (26.9%)
SDLP 13% (14.2%)
UUP 11%, (13.2%)
Alliance 10.9% (7.7%)
Greens 3.7% (0.9%)
TUV 3.2% (2.5%)
Good news for the Greens is that they are probably the biggest movers in the sense that they move from being statistically insignificant to registering.
Adds: Mark McGregor (lately of this parish) points out on Twitter than the figure for the Greens in the election was based on a showing in only 6/18 constituencies so the comparison with last years election is out of kilter (;amateur’, is what he actually said).
Alliance can be happy too in the sense they seem to be carrying some momemtum, possibly the follow through from Naomi Long’s unseating of the First Minister (albeit in exceptional circumstances) and the existence now for three MLAs across Belfast.
Hardly a case of George Bush senior’s Big Mo, but they are the only decent sized party with any sign of momentum at all. But as Liam notes it is in the east of the province (beyond which it barely exists) it is already pulling ahead of the UUP.
I’d be wary of panic if I were in the UUP. A two per cent even in a poll this size is well within the margin of error. But it confirms that just changing the leader is no magic pill either.
After years of dismissing Alliance as an irrelevance (or even as a pot of excess unionist votes), it is a real threat (although in the medium term not exclusively) to them above all other parties in the east.
Stasis in the party stakes is probably what we can expect from future polls in this new political reality unless and until one or more of the smaller parties begin to provide a more cohesive challenge function.
There are other more instructive findings in the poll, which we will come to later in the day..
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty