This weekend is the first of LucidTalk’s quarterly Tracker polls since the May Assembly election, and any poll two to three months after a big election is always interesting.
This is because we can see if there were any major movements or patterns of disappointment or regret regarding who voters voted for just a few months earlier.
The results of the poll are pretty clear, showing that Sinn Féin is consolidating its position as the leading political party – up to 30 percent, a one percentage point increase in its share of the vote in the general election.
The DUP is struggling to recover from the blow it suffered in the general election when it fell 7 percent to 21.3 percent of the vote from its last performance in the 2017 general election.
That Summer 22 Tracker poll put the DUP at 24 percent, three points higher than their performance in May’s election.
However, the DUP still has a long way to go to get back on par with Sinn Féin and Michelle O’Neill, especially as Sinn Féin now seems to have some momentum in terms of their vote share, having been fairly stagnant in the mid to late 2010s 1920s in the months leading up to the general election.
But at least the DUP is comfortably installed as the leading union party after some real scares with their poll results in 2020 and last year, well ahead of the UUP with 11 percent and the TÜV with 6 percent.
The Alliance party has consolidated its position as the third largest party, with a projected 16 percent of the vote in this latest poll.
As we know, the Alliance had a good assembly vote in May in terms of seats won, but it should be noted that this was with a vote share of just 13.5 percent, down from 3 percent to 4 percent for the two previous elections – the European elections and the UK general election 2019.
Note that LucidTalk Alliance had forecast a 13.7 per cent vote share in the May election (see our latest primary poll published in the Belfast Telegraph on April 29th) so, not wanting to blow our own trumpet, we were to 0.2 just right pcs.
Mind you, Alliance deserves full credit as they won 17 seats with that 13.5% vote share in the May elections with their excellent campaigning and their detailed and well thought out vote management within the STV PR voting system.
It must be said that they were also a bit lucky, which is always useful in elections.
The Alliance Party is now, with Sinn Féin, the two leading political parties in terms of election planning and campaigning, well ahead of the other parties in this area.
TÜV has lost two points to a 6 percent share of the vote after its tumultuous performance in the general election, when it won a 7.6 percent share of the vote.
It seems that some of their vote may have returned to the DUP, given that the DUP’s position on the Northern Ireland Protocol is similar to that of the TUV.
The UUP and SDLP used to be the leading political parties, but those days are long gone.
The UUP has held steady at 11 percent in this poll, in line with its share of the vote in the general election.
The SDLP has fallen from 9 percent of the vote in the general election to 7 percent.
Both the UUP and SDLP really need to start thinking about what they need to do to move away from these relatively low poll numbers and compete again with the leading political parties.
As part of this project, we also researched the latest representative view of a border survey.
One of the more interesting findings from the research is the longer-term trends. A majority (52 per cent) would now support or think they could support a united Ireland in the next 15 to 20 years.
This trend is even more apparent when we look at age group analyses, with 57 per cent of 18-24 year olds supporting a united Ireland in a referendum today, compared to 35 per cent who would support the status quo (remain United Kingdom).
So, all in all, it is sad to say that the poll shows that Northern Ireland may be becoming more polarized given people’s voting intentions, views on protocol and the constitutional issue.
Bill White is Managing Director of the Belfast-based survey and market research company LucidTalk. You can follow LucidTalk on Twitter: @LucidTalk
https://www.independent.ie/news/ni-as-polarised-as-ever-and-it-may-be-growing-worse-41927734.html NI as polarized as ever… and it could get worse