Belfast Telegraph’s Are you voting for the wrong party poll, and other political anomalies?

Right, I am literally just rushing out the door… Can I ask that people take a bit of time out to to complete the Belfast Telegraph’s Local Election party preference poll and then share your experiences (though not necessarily your choices) with us here below.

I’ll come back over the weekend and share some of my own.

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  • I got a party I would never vote for as first choice, although my other preferences were reasonable. Of course this could be attributed to the quiz only asking questions regarding local council policy, which usually features low on most people’s concerns. I’m sure a similar poll on stormont matters would give a different result.

    But stepping back, why should this be a surprise? There’s no law to say you have to be consistent in your party preferences. I didn’t vote for my own party’s presidential candidate (and I suspect I wasn’t alone, given the results). One of the strengths of having multiple layers of government is that the electorate can mix and match policies.

    Some old colleagues of mine helped develop, which is a similar tool for European elections. I remember getting similarly interesting results last time I used it, too.

    I’ll still take these sorts of polls with a pinch of salt though. 😉

  • cynic2

    My problem (and nI mean this) is that they all look like the wrong party

  • Reader

    Apparently I ought to be voting DUP in council elections.
    That isn’t going to happen…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Well, Reader, my own try brought up a party I thought I’d clicked as one I would never, ever consider voting for. Having dipped my toe into marketing years back I wonder if the poll is actually being conducted by someone with an iPhone who is “selling” the votes of each person who undertakes the poll to the highest bidder on his line at the time.

    But then I’m on record as thinking that any vote in the Province in any election is a vote for the “wrong” party, like cynic2………

  • ForkHandles

    I got NI Conservatives which I was happy with. I would consider voting conservative and I agree on more private sector use by government. I think the private sector questions would have swung it. I selected NI21 for ‘usually vote for’ although they haven’t been through an election.

  • Well this is a turn up.
    I got the TUV….68% match.
    Then I got a succession of unionist parties.
    Alliance 15%
    SF ( I think) 9%
    SDLP lowest on 4%

    kinda surprising as I indicated I am a nationalist, only wanted the irish Flag flown ( just for the craic), and indicated I would never vote for all the unionist parties…leaving SDLP, SF and Green.
    So it seems a bit bizarre that I got TUV.
    Yet it explains a lot about my attempts at online dating….clearly this is how I always end up being matched with blondes who vote TUV.

  • Neil

    Likewise TUV.

  • cynic2

    I got 68% DUP and over 50% SF – whcih shows how relaible the bel tel is

  • Its like the Simpsons episode where Homer was voting Democrat and the electronic machines said “Ypu have voted Republican”
    Life imitates Art.

  • Granni Trixie

    I got SF! At least it wasn’t Conservatives.

  • Greenflag

    Grannie Trixie ,

    Lucky you -I picked a definite loser .

    NI Conservative 93% 🙁 Am I glad I won’t have a vote 🙂

    Lies , anomalies , statistics and damned polls ? or perhaps the poll had built in ‘errors ‘ . ?

  • MyVote

    fitzjameshorse1745: The survey matches your best responses based on all the policy questions, and then applies a weighting to the policy areas you judge most and least important.

    You can follow our methodology in the FAQs in the menu

    SeaanUiNeil: All the data is anonymous. We aren’t IT literate enough at Chambré PA to run your IP Address down, and as for making any profit of the project. Your kidding right? We are just policy wonks doing for the love of local government.

  • Red Lion

    100% Green! 100% like!

    2nd was PUP, 3rd was NI21 who I will be voting in real life.

    Thankfully the DUP were last on 18%

  • Red Lion

    Have to say I thought quite hard about the answers-my honest thought-out answer was often quite different from the kneejerk so bare that in mind folks!

  • Master McGrath

    I got PUP and had to retire to a dark room and luckily LRT, (Liver Recovery Time) aka Lent to the Devout, had ended so I was able to console myself from the effects of shock with medicinal cognac. Someone’s having a laugh with this when results like this come out. I was so shocked that I did not look for the rest of the possible matches.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’ve just heard that they are using dice!

    Seriously, though, I was discussing computers with a (media) journalist in the 1990s when I was advising companies such as the Computer Film Company on virtual reality graphics and brought up the term “technological hypnotism” to describe the almost religious awe that is given by otherwise sane people to what comes up on the screen. So are we to believe that we know ourselves and our attitudes so little that we should actually be voting for people we would not even want to be in the same room as?

    I am deeply concerned that people exhaustively examine their motives and ideas (see my postings on last weeks education thread), but, if I were really cynical (heaven forefend!) then I might just think that all the parties that we would not ever consider were put in a hat and picked out one after another.

    Was that the point, Mick?

  • I have noticed in past few weeks a plethora of these MEMEs.
    “What colour aura are you ? ….Im blue if anyone cares.
    “What is your Game of Thrones charachtter name”? Ser Fitz Mormaunt obviously.

    But this seems bizarre and i wonder what Chambre PA and Belfast Telegraph are up to. Clearly its not April Fools Day.
    But what exactly is it Mick?
    “Go Compare….Go Compare” Politics for the Gogglebox Age.
    Sit around watching Strictly Come X factors Got Talent…..take a quiz cos we are too lazy to go the polling booth….and phone our answers to Aunt and Dec. (calls our charged at £1 per minute, check with the bill payer and lines close at midnight).
    Seriously folks it doesnt really reflect well on Chambre PA and Bel Tel.

  • Shibboleth

    The most interesting one I saw was someone I work with who is a Mormon (originally from a Protestant background). Mormons don’t see themselves as Protestant as far as I know and have attracted both Catholics and Protestants to Mormonism. This individual had mentioned being a big time supporter of Romney’s Republicanism. I would have thought this individual would have been UKIP. They came out as joint first in similarity to Sinn Fein and the TUV on 54%. I suspect their background gave rise to such a curious result.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    90 per cent match with PUP, 75 per cent with UUP – and SF was third! DUP last. Had it asked “would you ever vote for a party with paramilitary connections” they might have got a more accurate result. My preferred option,, wasn’t on there – not many options to cater for left-of-centre unionists.

  • Mick Fealty

    Are they actually standing anywhere MU? BTW, see the note above from the guys who put it together]

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, MyVote, I should have read the whole thread before pouring out my usual flood of ironic inconsequentiality earlier this lovely morning. No offence intended, and of course I fully understand that there is no money whatsoever (or in any way) involved and I fully accept that you “are just policy wonks doing for the love of local government.”

    Not that there is a lot to love in local government around our province, but each to their own.

    And I should just mention that anyone reading my comments on Slugger for more than a few hours would discover that I never expect anyone to take anything I say seriously…..

    And the results of my own wee test just confirms my own luddite preferences for insightful human self examination over number crunching…….

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Mick, you’re right they aren’t putting up candidates, due to lack of support from the mainland leadership for their own party. “One Nation” indeed.

  • My Vote,
    As my biggest policy decision is dont vote unionist ….I still dont see how I got a 68% match to TUV and a 4% match to the party that I am an actual member.
    Still its harmless enough.

  • mjh

    It’s simple, fjh

    You and I, and the other people who commented here, just prefer the council policies of parties other than those of the party they actually would vote for.

    Nothing unusual in that.

  • Bungditin

    PUP = 100% Did the survey twice cause I didn’t believe it the first time! 100% both occasions Jaysus!

    Followed by SF = 78% then TUV = 75%

    Three parties I have never and will never vote for.

    68% = Greens, and still getting my vote

  • Neil

    I think I see what’s happened there. As an example, what’s the least important policy area for me? Flegs. Preferred fleg system? Two flegs or none. Ergo TUV. Obviously flegs matter quite a lot to the TUV so it makes no sense to vote for a party that has a keen interest in the least important policy area for me, but the survey comes from the other direction: if I don’t care about flegs then why worry about the TUV’s fleg policy. Then due to my natural contempt for our reps I don’t want them to have responsibility for anything other than bins, and the notion of giving them more money makes me feel unwell, so TUV. Ah well it’s just a bit of fun and I won’t be voting for any of them anyway.

  • DC

    Yip, TUV. It would seem all your Jim Allister are belong to us.

    Followed by DUP, Greens and PUP. Tories last.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hey, I’m so bored that I sometimes read all the policy stuff for even the small parties (I have a warped sense of humour) and so I’d have noticed if the party standing locally that really matched my wishes was the Communist Party of North Korea!

    Has anyone thought about the questions being asked? And what is not being asked? It is, after all, a poll, and did I not hear somewhere that polls are on a very few rare occasions actually directed at certain answers? Good start on this analysis Neil!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    According to the test I’m actually Edwin Poots.

    I didn’t see that coming.

    Or these things that folks are calling ‘dinosaurs’…

  • Drumlins Rock

    I did manage 86% UUP, but I’m in election mode and tend to answer things “according to policy” these days 🙂 Still in this situation 14% rebel is about right I think.

  • 83% for a Party I would never vote for.

  • Zig70

    It did highlight that I know bugger all about council policies. I’m open minded on whether they should even exist for this wee statelet.

  • gaygael

    Pup 79
    Alliance 72
    SF/Green/ni21/uup all 50

    Tuv and ukip at bottom. Where they belong. But pup at top!

  • Reader

    I think the problem was that this was mostly a survey about what powers should be devolved, and not about what should be done with those powers once they were devolved.
    So it’s like comparing a survey of voters’ favourite colours against the colour of the candidates’ socks – you would normally look at their ties instead…

  • tuatha

    Colour me spiflicated! I was shown to be Unionist (and worase) for the first 5 choices, SF & SDLP almost last!
    I wouldn’t vote other than Green, SF or SDLP if i were hanging by my fundamentals over a crocodile pool.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks Reader, thats the point. Polls are not about discovering which party actually fits our prejudices closely over the great arc of our life experience, but which party actually fits our prejudices closely considering a given number of carefully selected questions.

    Even when aimed at the ties rather than the socks, any poll would still need to generalise by far the greater portion of beliefs based on experiences that must always be rooted in the personal and particular.

    I used to be (peripherally) involved in advertising and, while seeing how research polls were conducted and used, I had all innocence in these matters knocked out of me as well as any residual belief in any possible true objectivity in these matters.

    But perhaps the computer programmes used now are so objectively crafted that they could overcome these failings?

    “Lies, damned lies, statistics” and…………. polls

  • Comrade Stalin

    Apparently I’m 72% Green. This was despite me ticking quite a few options that I would imagine the Greens would oppose.

    While it may seem that the survey is initially getting party preferences wrong, I guess that they’ve been looking specifically at the behaviour of those parties on councils rather than the wider picture.

  • If it is actually about POLICY…what is the point of asking what parties you would exclude in a polling station.
    Presumably if that question had not been asked …the results would be exactly the same. So why ask it?…..except to find out how people would NOT vote.
    Polls are conducted….based on questions set by people with an agenda (in this case seemingly a love affair with Local Government) and reported on by a newspaper with an editorial policy.
    Too cosy for me.

  • Seamuscamp

    This poll attempts the impossible. It asks some discrete questions, doesn’t ask other relevant questions, deliberately leaves out what many would `consider the most important point (Who would you not vote for?) and presumably expects a coherent picture.

    The problem is, as usual, the Past. We are shaped by that past so that some things we simply can’t do. As William Langland said a long time ago, the difference between man and animal is that the animal only knows how to be rational.

  • Mick Fealty


    “83% for a Party I would never vote for.”

    Can you tell us why? That might tell us something about the real fault lines in politics.

  • Mick Fealty

    I got 90% SF. That covers quite a bit of divergence, none of which I would consider to be a singular deal breaker.

    Agreed on:

    – My new council should prioritise support for local indigenous business over attracting foreign direct investment to their area.

    – My new council should be able to increase local rates, as and when it feels it is necessary.

    – My new council should outsource more services for which it is responsible to the community and voluntary sector.

    – My new council should provide more financial support to the performing arts

    – My new council should have a committee that is just responsible for supporting community sport

    – My new council should use the power to borrow money to invest in health and social care facility improvements.

    – All political donations should be publicly disclosed.

    Disagreed on:

    – I welcome the reduction in local councils from 26 to 11

    – Councils in NI presently deliver about one third of the services provided by their counterparts in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. My new council should increase its service provision to match this.

    – My new council should prioritise planning applications that support economic development.

    – My new council should be able to increase local rates only if the community decides there is a critical need.

    – My new council should outsource more of the services for which it is responsible to private sector.

    – My new council should use its power to borrow money to invest in social housing schemes.

    – The flying of flags on council buildings.

    Overall I got 75% Green, 65% Tory, 61% PUP, 58% UKIP, 54% DUP, 50% SDLP, 33% TUV, 33% Alliance, 29% UUP, 25% NI21.

    So just two thoughts to add to those above:

    – I think it’s right to take a generous view of people’s tendency to vote in council elections. But any real decision I might make in a STV PR election Council election would be conditioned as much by ‘likely to act’ on any of these policies as their presence in the parties’ manifesto.

    – I marked flags down my personal list of priorities, and accordingly although I’m at odds with SF on that matter it barely registers as a significant divergence, even though for the party and its supporters it IS a significant matter.

    Of the two, counterintuitively perhaps, I think the first is the more important. Making attractive promises is easy, but we are not good at figuring party delivery on any of this.

    Is there a case for developing some kind of report card system?

  • No.
    The Poll asks us to exclude parties.
    In the context of the North, there are possibly three reasons to exclude a party and they are not necessarily sectarian.
    1 constitutional position
    2 leaning left or right
    3 “moral” grounds
    And arguably, ” I dont like the look of them” is legiimate also.
    In an English context I would always exclude Conservatives mostly on the “cant stand the sight of them” reason or is anti-conservative a legitimate political stance or a prejudiced emotion.
    Likewise I cant see any circumstance that Id vote Republican in USA.

    A “report card” system may take prejudice out of politics. Thats “good”. But taking Emotion out of Politics is different.
    It debases Politics to the level of political “science”,
    Frankly a Report Card invites us to check off those things that are “good” for us….and invites us to ignore the things that are not “god” for us.
    It is dangerous to go down the road of thinking that people should only be allowed to vote if they actually “understand” politics or enter into a contract only to vote logically.

    This is “Overclass” thinking. Especially in the Norn Iron context where very intelligent people in think tanks admonish us for not voting “correctly”….as they do.
    At one level the Belfast Telegraph poll is harmless fun….but on another level is a bit sinister.

  • Mick Fealty

    It was a question, not an order FJH. I’m no fan of reducing politics to a science either. You cannot usurp or fabricate the critical role of an opposition, but that’s not to Say we don’t have a reporting problem either.

  • Mick, the Party was SF and I guess I must agree with most of their “leftish” policies, being somewhat left of centre. The reason I currently wouldn’t vote for them is that I don’t believe or trust their President and a few others..