As the parties gear up for one (or two?) elections – the latest Lucid Talk poll…

black and white printed textile

If the on-again off-again Assembly Election were held tomorrow, the results would look almost the same as they did last May, according to Lucid Talk’s new poll in the Belfast Telegraph. But it points to significant changes at the Council elections in May. Sinn Féin 31% (+2 from last election) DUP 25% (+4) Alliance 15% (+1) UUP 10% (-1) SDLP 7% (-2) TUV 7% (-1) Aontú 2% (+1) PBPA 1% (No change) Green 1% (-1) Before we look as the …

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Big 3 increase dominance in new poll…

silhouette of road signage during golden hour

The latest Lucid Talk poll was published in the Belfast Telegraph this morning, but, as an experiment, I started writing this analysis the evening before. That way it was possible to think about what different results for each party might mean, free from any unconscious influence from knowing the actual figures; which are: Sinn Féin 32% (+3 from last election) DUP 27% (+6) Alliance 15% (+1) UUP 9% (-2) SDLP 7% (-2) TUV 5% (-3) DUP At the Assembly election …

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Party prospects in the “will-he? won’t-he?” election…

maple trees during daytime

While the Secretary of State indulges in some hard dithering on when (or if?) to call a new Assembly election, the parties are already deep into election planning mode. Indeed, it might be said that an unofficial election campaign is already well underway. As the talks with the SoS continue, each party’s stance may be influenced by how they view their prospects in a coming election. And when the election is finally announced, a key question for each party will …

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United in prayer. New Lucid Talk poll…

Are you happy?

Two party leaders will both be on their knees this morning, earnestly offering up the same plea to the heavens. “Please, please let there be no early Assembly election”. One of them, Colm Eastwood, has no control over the matter. The other, Jeffery Donaldson, has only to say the word for the current Assembly to continue its full term. But he is tortured by the message of this poll which tells him that Jim Allister may not allow him to …

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Dramatic poll results – but don’t get too excited….

black and white printed textile

The Irish News has the first opinion poll since the Assembly elections, conducted for Liverpool University’s Institute for Irish Studies. The results will leave Sinn Féin supporters cock-a-hoop: unionist parties with their heads in their hands; and Alliance supporters quietly confident. Sinn Féin 30.9% (up1.9% since the Assembly elections) DUP 20.1% (down 1.2%) Alliance 15.3% (up 1.8%) SDLP 10.0% (up 0.8%) UUP 9.6% (down 1.6%) TUV 4.7% (down 2.9%) Green 2.9% (up 1.0%) Others 6.5% First the drama: This is …

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What now for the SDLP?

It should have been different. The party had been doing so many of the right things. It had put the years of destructive dissension over leadership under Ritchie and McDonnell firmly behind it. It had recruited and groomed a new generation of talented public representatives. It had professionalised its organisation. It had been rewarded with a modest improvement in its 2019 Euro election vote – which held out the promise that the party could put an end to the previous …

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West Tyrone Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. Unionist vote share has slipped in West Tyrone from a consistent 33% or 34% in all elections up to and including 2017. Since then, it has not gone above 32% and hit 29% at the last Westminster election. Nationalist performance has been a little more uneven over the period, with no discernible trend. While Others bumped along the bottom of the chart, …

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Uncertainty increased: the latest Irish News poll…

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There is a golden rule in reporting opinion polls: the more dramatic the poll result, the more cautiously it should be interpreted. The front-page headline of today’s Irish News, “Alliance and DUP neck and neck”, leaves little doubt that the latest Liverpool University poll is dramatic. SF 26.6% DUP and Alliance 18.2% each UUP 12.1% SDLP 10.5% TUV 5.7% Green 2.7% PBP 2.1% Others 3.9% The margin for error is 3.1% It is more productive to compare the changes between …

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Upper Bann Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

This fairy tree always catches my eye on the A1 heading southbound between Loughbrickland and Sheepsbridge.

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. In Upper Bann, both unionist and nationalist shares have bobbed gently up and down by small amounts for most of the decade. Unionists have been on a bit of a downward slope since 2017, but two elections in the same year do not make a long-term trend. Nationalists, too, dropped at the last Westminster election, but only to a level they had …

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Strangford Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

The wee town of Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula at Strangford Lough, taken from Castle Ward (July, 2019).

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. Once you strip out the effects of tactical voting at the Westminster elections, the underlying trend in unionist share in Strangford was slightly upwards in the first half of the decade, but it has taken a decided downturn since. Meanwhile, nationalists have, on the whole, held steady. The marked increase in others only got going in 2017. The party shares show just …

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South Down Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

gray blocks

Note that I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. The tactical voting by some unionists and others for the SDLP in South Down, which boosted the nationalist share at Westminster elections, appears to have disappeared by 2019. South Down is another one of those places where candidates from outside of the constituency’s main parties sometimes win significant numbers of votes. In the 2019 Local Government elections, these would have …

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Hopes, dreams and nightmares: What the new Lucid Talk poll means for each party…

Believe in Yourself

The last Lucid Talk poll before the election appears in today’s Belfast Telegraph. It was conducted between Friday 22nd and Sunday 24th April. This means that some of the contributors will have been declaring their choice almost two weeks before the election itself. That’s only about halfway through the formal campaign. It’s important to remember that much can change before an election in that time frame. Historically many people only finally decide how they will vote in the last few …

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South Antrim Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

antrim castle gardens, hedge, pond

Yet again we see the pattern, familiar in so many constituencies, of the dramatic but temporary effects of Westminster tactical voting. Unusually, as can be seen in the main party chart below, both the DUP and the UUP benefit from this, and it is possibly one of the factors which led the UUP to run a second candidate for the Assembly. Alliance may also have derived some benefit from tactical voting, although it is obvious it lost the battle with …

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North Down Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Looking out over a calm Irish Sea from Helen's Bay (Jun., 2013).

The obvious tactical voting for Independent Unionist Lady Hermon in North Down Westminster elections cannot hide the strong decline in Unionist vote share over the last decade. In the 2011 elections, unionist votes were worth 4.1 and 4.2 quotas. Eight years later that had dropped to 3.4 and 3.3. If they can hold on to that next month it should guarantee them 3 seats, but the leakage of transfers from UUP and Conservatives could leave them closer to the tipping …

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North Antrim Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Looking out over The North Coast and the Glens of Antrim toward Ballycastle from Fair Head (Jun., 2020).

The last decade was one of the steady declines of the Unionist and Nationalist designations and of slow but accelerating growth in Others. There were no signs of tactical voting by Nationalists or Others, but the withdrawal from the contest of the TUV means that the Westminster result tells us nothing about the relative strengths of the Unionist parties. The vote in the Westminster election would have given 3 Safe unionist seats plus 1 Safe Alliance and a Good possibility …

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Mid Ulster Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

church of ireland, ballyclog, scenery

Not much seems to disturb the placid pattern of Mid Ulster voting patterns, until that curious little uptick in Others at the last election. The level of party support does give us a little more to get our teeth into. In 2013 all the unionist parties decided to pool their resources behind a single Independent Unionist candidate for a Westminster by-election. I believe the idea originated with the UUP. Anyway, it proved not to be such a great wheeze in …

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Newry and Armagh Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

argory, armagh, irish

There has been little change in the designation splits in Newry and Armagh over the years, until 2019. Then an uptick in the Alliance vote, similar to that in Mid Ulster, occurred. This appeared to be at the expense of both unionists and nationalists. The marked level of tactical voting within unionism at Westminster elections since 2015 can be clearly seen. In 2015 the DUP withdrew as part of a UUP/DUP pact, but since then it has been the DUP …

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Lagan Valley Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

We can see that the pattern of tactical voting in Lagan Valley at Westminster elections has changed since 2017. The party figures reveal that while some UUP voters still vote tactically, it is as likely that they will do so for Alliance as for the DUP. This is maybe not surprising in a constituency where the UUP only transferred at 40% to the DUP in 2017. Westminster ’19 was also notably the poorest performance by Jeffrey Donaldson in the four …

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Fermanagh and South Tyrone Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

The snow-capped Cuilcagh Mountains seen from Belle Isle Estate in County Fermanagh after a late winter/early spring storm.

After the complexities of East Londonderry, and before embarking on the equally problematic Foyle, it is a relief to address the relative simplicities of FST. On the face of it, we have the re-establishment of a significant nationalist lead over unionist parties after a brief moment of parity in 2016, with an almost imperceptibly slow, but now undeniable, growth in the other’s share. It takes a moment to reconcile this tranquil picture with the performance of the main parties in …

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Foyle Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Looking across the River Foyle to the cityside from the waterside, with The Peace Bridge framed by The Guild Hall (left) and St. Eugene's Cathedral (right) (May, 2021).

I’ve just finished reading the entrails in Foyle, and my brain hurts. Quite frankly I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading right now and just left it to the Almighty in his ineffable wisdom to reveal the final results sometime on May 7th. To those of you who refuse to heed the warnings, I salute your courage. We start with the designation shares bearing the, by now familiar, marks of tactical voting in Westminster. And as usual, these marks …

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