The DUP and Sinn Fein are neck and neck as Arlene Foster plummets – Bel Tel poll

LucidTalk  party ratings in the Belfast Telegraph  here and ratings for Arlene Foster and other  party leaders compared over time  here.  They show a continuing downward trend for the DUP leader in less than two months , from 49% before December to 21% now . When only unionists are included into the results Jim Allister comes out on top with Arlene Foster just half a percentage point above Michelle O’Neill who was bottom on 28.9%.

LucidTalk concludes that the DUP will still shave it for top party. But will they make the 30 seats needed for a blocking quota? And will Arlene survive a narrow result for long?

Party shares  DUP 25.87%. down 3% .

Sinn Fein 25.1%, up 1.1% on last year’s Assembly election. All the other parties are up e.g.  UUP at 13.9% up 1.3%;

SDLP 12.36% up 0.4%

People before Profit  2.7% up 0.77%

Party leader ratings vary greatly from those of their party.

Naomi Long top on 52%

TUV leader Jim Allister second with 48.8%

Sinn Fein’s new leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill third on 46.1%.

SDLP’s Colum Eastwood, next with 44%.

The polling results however do still show Mrs Foster does still enjoy the support of her party.

She comes out with a 72% rating among DUP voters with Jim Allister second on 49% and Michelle O’Neill third on 30%.

LucidTalk managing director Bill White described the DUP’s 3% decrease as “quite a drop”.

He said: “But may not totally translate into dropping a similar relatively large number of seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. This is because it would take an even larger drop to really feed into the party losing the comparative number of seats.

“Though this drop could be the difference in terms of them losing one or two extra seats. That is above the number of seats they are expected to lose.”

He added: “A large number of poll participants who said they voted DUP last May 2016, say they will switch this time to the UUP and other parties.

“This is a noticeable swing to the UUP, but at this stage in the campaign, is not overwhelming. The DUP can cope with this swing, in terms of not being damaged too much overall in terms of seats, but they can’t afford the swing to grow anymore over the course of the campaign.

For now Nigel Dodds DUP director of elections is circling the wagons rather than making a  dash for the fort.

 “These poll results show that, come election day, Sinn Fein could return to Stormont with the most seats and take the first minister’s post.

Quite possibly Nigel, although of the basis of these figures LucidTalk says not

Then there will be nothing to stop them implementing their radical agenda for Northern Ireland.  Just imagine what that would mean for our way of life.

No Nigel – and you know it  Sinn Fein’s ” radical agenda” would still require cross party support.

But it’s early days. There’s  a trend against the DUP. Will it continue or consolidate  in response to these dramatic results?