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Poll: Less than 1% between Sinn Fein and the DUP

By Sue Doherty

The two biggest parties in Northern Ireland are neck and neck going into the general election, according to the latest poll.

There is less than 1% separating the DUP and Sinn Fein, LucidTalk's latest Tracker Poll revealed on Tuesday.

Of those taking part in the survey, 28.9% said they intend to vote for the DUP, a slight rise of 0.8% from the NI Assembly election in March and 3.2% up from the 2015 general election.

Just a whisker behind are Sinn Fein, at 28.1%, up 0.2% from March and 3.6% from 2015.

The other parties currently stand as follows: SDLP 13.8%, UUP 15.4%, Alliance 9.9%, TUV 0.1%, Green Party 0.6%, NI Conservatives 0.2%, People Before Profit 0.6% and Others 2.4%.

Overall, there has been a 3.3% drop in the total Unionist vote, from 47.9% in the 2015 general election to 44.6%. This compares to a significant, albeit modest, increase of 0.9% in the Nationalist/Republican vote, from 41.6% since the NI Assembly election in March.

Commenting on the poll results, political analyst Bill White noted the two main parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, are “maintaining their strong leads over the other parties.”

Looking into what’s behind the results, he explained: “The jump for the UUP is expected because, for example, in Fermanagh and South Tyrone the DUP voters in that constituency will be voting for the UUP at the Westminster election and that of course gives a boost to the overall NI-Wide UUP vote share.

“The UUP vote share of 15.4% (down 0.3% from our May poll) is down 0.6% from the General Election 2015, and this vote share is where it should be taking into account the pact arrangements with the DUP in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

“However, it should be concerning for the UUP that they are currently down 0.6% from the GE2015, as they are aiming to hold two seats i.e. Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and South Antrim. The UUP need this sort of support level if they are to hold seats like South Antrim where the UUP are defending that seat with the current sitting MP Danny Kinahan.”

Turning to the Nationalist/Republican vote, Mr White said the SDLP growth of 1.9% from the Assembly election in March is also “to be expected as in seats like South Belfast, Foyle, and South Down (the current 3 seats where the SDLP have their MPs) there is a trend for perhaps some Sinn Fein voters to coalesce around the ‘strongest’ nationalist/republican candidate, and basically someone who has the best chance of winning the seat.

“This latter point applies more in South Belfast than in the other 2 SDLP seats, however in South Down and Foyle there is a tendency for some Unionist voters to lend their votes to the SDLP to stop Sinn Fein winning those seats.”

As for the other parties, it is “not surprising”, he said, that their vote shares have been “squeezed’ throughout this campaign.

“This is normal in Westminster elections when voters tend to go towards the larger parties, and those parties who have a chance of winning seats in the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) Westminster election system.”

The strong vote for ‘Others’, he concluded is “mostly driven by the fact that Lady Sylvia Hermon is included in ‘Others’, and of course she always polls strongly in her North Down constituency”.

LucidTalk is a member of all recognised professional Polling and Market Research organisations, including the UK Market Research Society (UK-MRS), the British Polling Council (BPC), and ESOMAR (European Society of Market Research organisations).

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