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General Election Northern Ireland seat predictions - who will win the key battlegrounds?

By Jonny Bell

Pollsters LucidTalk have once again grasped the nettle and laid out their predictions for the forthcoming General Election calling each of Northern Ireland's 18 seats.

LucidTalk - fronted by Bill White - has a pedigree in the result predicting game and in the snap Assembly Election at the beginning of March its work came out within 1% of the final outcome.

And for June's snap General Election the company will be running a series of tracker polls over the next six weeks to gauge public opinion to detect if voters will change their opinions or stick with who they know come polling day.

Read more: General Election 2017: LucidTalk polling plans and Northern Ireland seat predictions

Its results are based on its panel of almost 8,000 people who take part in surveys. When their results are collated they are boiled down to 2,580 responses to get a representative sample of Northern Ireland public opinion.

On top of this, the company will carry out "deep polling" in the key constituency areas of North Belfast, South Belfast, East Belfast, South Antrim, Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and Upper Bann.

"With these separate deep polls in each of these key marginal constituencies we’ll be able to accurately track trends, who’s winning, and make firm predictions," said Mr White.

LucidTalk's Westminster seat predictor model, last used in the 2015 election has proved successful. It uses the last three major election results combined with its opinion poll findings to generate predictions. Predictions for the June poll will be used as a starting point to gauge changes as campaigning intensifies over the coming weeks.

"This computer based predictor model is constantly being improved and enhanced, and we’re again confident that it will be able to closely predict this upcoming Westminster election in Northern Ireland," added Bill.

"This will enable tracking of trends up or down for each of the political parties in each of the 18 NI Westminster constituencies as the campaign progresses, and therefore the seat predictor model should also get more accurate, and up-to-date, as the campaign progresses, as it will be using and analysing the latest poll data."

Overall the predictions see Sinn Fein gaining one seat and the UUP losing one.

The predictions see Sinn Fein, narrowly taking Fermanagh & South Tyrone from the UUP's Tom Elliott. The computer predicts there is a 55% chance the seat will return to the republican party.

"Taking into account the Sinn Fein surge in recent Assembly election we were surprised the seat predictor model didn’t predict Sinn Fein for Fermanagh and South Tyrone at 60% plus. However, this rating may change following our polls," Bill said.

East Belfast looks to return to the DUP's Gavin Robinson and the predictor suggests Alasdair McDonnell could retain his South Belfast seat for the SDLP.

"Yes, he’s the current MP, but is vulnerable to a strong Unionist candidate," said Bill.

"Not surprisingly, nine of the 18 seats are showing win-probability scores of 100% for the incumbent. Unless something dramatic happens we don’t see these scores changing."

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