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April opinion poll: Just how will Northern Ireland vote in Assembly ballot

By Bill White

Published 06/05/2016

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Our April Opinion Panel 'Tracker' poll was carried out online for a period of 60 Hours from 10am April 26 to 10pm April 28 (60 hours), and is the last of our tracker polls before the Northern Ireland Assembly election on Thursday. Subjects covered included Northern Ireland political leader ratings, party election percentage poll scores, and the upcoming EU referendum on June 23.

Over 1,800 members of our Opinion Panel were invited to participate, 1,168 full responses were received, and 1,082 responses considered in terms of the final results.

Here we provide the key poll results with a brief summary commentary with each poll question. A more detailed report including a Northern Ireland Assembly election seat predictor, based on our four most recent Northern Ireland polls, will be available on the LucidTalk website from 8pm Tuesday, May 3.


Graph 1 shows our NI Opinion Panel NI Political Party Leader ratings based on the question: How do you rate each of the NI Political Party Leaders performances over the past 1-2 months e.g. Leadership, decisions made, Media performance, etc. - and please answer neutrally, disregarding your own political views.

NI Party Leader Ratings - Leader Satisfaction Scores: A useful way to look at Leader rating results is by 'Leader satisfaction' scores - this is calculated by adding the combined 'Very Good/Good' scores, and subtracting the combined 'Poor/Very Bad' scores, ignoring the neutral (green column) scores. If calculated this way the Leader ratings come out as (in order of scores from high to low):

MIKE NESBITT (UUP) +33.2, MARTIN MCGUINNESS (Sinn Fein) +19.3, JIM ALLISTER (TUV) +17.9, ARLENE FOSTER (DUP) +17.1, STEVEN AGNEW (Green Party) +14.5, COLUM EASTWOOD (SDLP) +4.4, DAVID FORD (Alliance) -13.4, DAVID MCNARRY (UKIP) -78.4.

NI POLITICAL PARTY POLL RATINGS: Alliance and the TUV poll ratings continue to rise.

Graph 2 shows the latest political party poll scores from the question: At the Northern Ireland Assembly election in May 2016 which political party are you planning to vote for as first preference? NB this excludes 'non-voters' and don't knows.

So compared to our March Opinion Panel Poll, the changes are as follows:

276 candidates are battling it out for 108 seats across 18 constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly election 2016.
276 candidates are battling it out for 108 seats across 18 constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly election 2016.
Belfast East
Belfast East: Andy Allen UUP
Belfast East: Ross Brown, Green Party
Belfast East: Joanne Bunting, DUP
Belfast East: Amy Doherty, SDLP
Belfast East: Sammy Douglas, DUP
East Belfast: Andrew Girvin, TUV
Belfast East: Erskine Holmes, Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee
Belfast East: Maggie Hutton, Independent
Belfast East: John Kyle, PUP
Belfast East: Jonny Lavery, UKIP
Belfast East: Naomi Long, Alliance
Belfast East: Chris Lyttle, Alliance
East Belfast: Chris McGimpsey, UUP
Belfast East: Tim Morrow, Alliance
Belfast East: Robin Newton, DUP
Belfast East: Niall O Donnghaile, Sinn Fein
Belfast East: Courtney Robinson, Cross-Community Labour Alternative
Belfast East: Neil Wilson, Conservatives
Belfast North
Belfast North: Ken Boyle, UKIP
Belfast North: Paula Bradley, DUP
Belfast North: Tom Burns, Independent
Belfast North: Lesley Carroll, UUP
Belfast North: Geoff Dowey, Northern Ireland First
Belfast North: Fiona Ferguson, People Before Profit Alliance
Belfast North: Fra Hughes, Independent
Belfast North: William Humphrey, DUP
Belfast North: Billy Hutchinson, PUP
Belfast North: Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein
Belfast North: Nichola Mallon, SDLP
Belfast North: Nuala McAllister, Alliance
Belfast North: Nelson McCausland, DUP
Belfast North: John Miller, TUV
Belfast North: Caral Ni Chuilin, Sinn Fein
Belfast North: Malachai O'Hara, Green Party
Belfast North: Abdo Tabeth, Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee
Belfast North: Gemma Weir, The Workers Party
Belfast South
Belfast South: Brigitte Anton, Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee
Belfast South: Clare Bailey, Green Party
Belfast South: Paula Bradshaw, Alliance
Belfast South: Sean Burns, Cross-Community Labour Alternative
Belfast South: Billy Dickson, South Belfast Unionists
Belfast South: Claire Hanna, SDLP
Belfast South: John Andrew Hiddleston, TUV
Belfast South: Lily Kerr, The Workers Party
Belfast South: Emma Little Pengelly, DUP
Belfast South: Ben Manton, Conservatives
Belfast South: Rodney McCune, UUP
Belfast South: Fearghal McKinney, SDLP
Belfast South: Duncan Morrow, Alliance
Belfast South: Mairtin O Muilleoir, Sinn Fein
Belfast South: Ruth Patterson
Belfast South: Ian Shanks, PUP
Belfast South: Christopher Stalford, DUP
Belfast South: Bob Stoker, UKIP
Belfast West
Belfast West: Alex Attwood, SDLP
Belfast West: Conor Campbell, The Workers Party
Belfast West: Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit
Belfast West: Jemima Higgins, Alliance
Belfast West: Gareth Thomas Martin, UUP
Belfast West: Alex Maskey, Sinn Fein
Belfast West: Fra McCann, Sinn Fein
Belfast West: Jennifer McCann, Sinn Fein
Belfast West: Rosie McCorley, Sinn Fein
Belfast West: Frank McCoubrey, DUP
Belfast West: Ellen Murray, Green Party
Belfast West: Pat Sheehan, Sinn Fein
East Antrim
East Antrim: Roy Beggs, UUP
East Antrim: Stewart Clyde Dickson, Alliance
East Antrim: Danny Donnelly, Alliance
East Antrim: David Hilditch, DUP
Ease Antrim: Margaret Anne McKillop, SDLP
East Antrim: Noel Jordan, UKIP
East Antrim: Noel Jordan, DUP
East Antrim: Jim McCaw, PUP
East Antrim: Margaret Anne McKillop, SDLP
East Antrim: Oliver McMullan, Sinn Fein
East Antrim: Maureen Morrow, UUP
East Antrim: Dawn Patterson, Green Party
East Antrim: Alastair Ross, DUP
East Antrim: Conor John Sheridan, Cross-Community Labour Alternative
East Antrim: John Robert Stewart, UUP
East Antrim: Ruth Wilson, TUV
East Londonderry
East Londonderry: Caomihe Archibald, Sinn Fein
East Londonderry: Jordan Armstrong, TUV
East Londonderry: Yvonne Boyle, Alliance
East Londonderry: Maurice Bradley, DUP
East Londonderry: Aaron Callan, UUP
East Londonderry: Stuart Canning, Conservatives
East Londonderry: Tor Christie, Independent
East Londonderry: Amber Hammill, Green Party
East Londonderry: David Harding, Conservatives
East Londonderry: William McCandless, UUP
East Londonderry: Adrian McQuillan, DUP
East Londonderry: Gerry Mullan, SDLP
East Londonderry: Cathal O'hOisin, Sinn Fein
East Londonderry: Steven Parkhill, UKIP
East Londonderry: George Robinson, DUP
East Londonderry: Claire Sugden, Independent
East Londonderry: Russell Watton, PUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Rosemary Barton, UUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Kerri Blyberg, Alliance
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Donald Crawford, TUV
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: John Feely, Sinn Fein
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Phil Flanagan, Sinn Fein
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Arlene Foster, DUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Fein
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Damian Harris, Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Tanya Jones, Green Party
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Sean Lynch, Sinn Fein
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Richie McPhillips, SDLP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Maurice Morrow, DUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Alastair Patterson, UUP
Foyle: Kathleen Bradley, Independent
Foyle: Maurice Devenney, Independent
Foyle: Gerard Diver, SDLP
Foyle: Alan Dunlop, Conservatives
Foyle: Mark H Durkan, SDLP
Foyle: Colum Eastwood, SDLP
Foyle: Mary Hassan, Green Party
Foyle: Julie Kee, UUP
Foyle: John Lindsay, Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol
Foyle: Eamonn McCann, People Before Profit
Foyle: Raymond McCartney, Sinn Fein
Foyle: Chris McCaw, Alliance
Foyle: Anne McCloskey, Independent
Foyle: Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein
Foyle: Maeve McLaughlin, Sinn Fein
Foyle: Gary Middleton, DUP
Lagan Valley
Lagan Valley: Dan Barrios-O'Neill, Green Party
Lagan Valley: Robbie Butler, UUP
Lagan Valley: Pat Catney, SDLP
Lagan Valley: Jonathan Craig, DUP
Lagan Valley: Peter Dynes, Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee
Lagan Valley: Paul Given, DUP
Lagan Valley: Brenda Hale, DUP
Lagan Valley: Brian Higginson, UKIP
Lagan Valley: Jack Irwin, Conservatives
Lagan Valley: Trevor Lunn, Alliance
Lagan Valley: Frazer McCammond, Democracy First
Lagan Valley: Jacqui McGeough, Sinn Fein
Lagan Valley: Jonny Orr
Lagan Valley: Jenny Palmer, Ulster Unionist Party
Lagan Valley: Edwin Poots, DUP
Lagan Valley: Lyle Rea, TUV
Mid Ulster
Mid Ulster: Keith Alexander Buchanan, DUP
Mid Ulster: Alan Day, UKIP
Mid Ulster: Linda Dillon, Sinn Fein
Mid Ulster: Neidin Hendron, Alliance
Mid Ulster: Hannah Loughrin, TUV
Mid Ulster: Ian McCrea, DUP
Mid Ulster: Patsy McGlone, SDLP
Mid Ulster: Ian Milne, Sinn Fein
Mid Ulster: Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein
Mid Ulster: Sandra Overend, UUP
Mid Ulster: Hugh Scullion, The Workers Party
Mid Ulster: Stefan Taylor, Green Party
Newry and Armagh
Newry and Armagh: Paul Berry
Newry and Armagh: Cathal Damian Boylan, Sinn Fein
Newry and Armagh: Emmet Crossan, Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol
Newry and Armagh: Megan Fearon, Sinn Fein
Newry and Armagh: William George Irwin, DUP
Newry and Armagh: Danny Kennedy, UUP
Newry and Armagh: Alan Love, UKIP
Newry and Armagh: Martin McAllister, Independent
Newry and Armagh: Karen McKevitt, SDLP
Newry and Armagh: Justin McNulty, SDLP
Newry and Armagh: Conor Murphy, Sinn Fein
Newry and Armagh: Sam Nicholson, UUP
Newry and Armagh: Michael Watters, Green Party
Newry and Armagh: Craig Weir, Alliance
North Antrim
North Antrim: Jim Allister, TUV
North Antrim: Donna Anderson, UKIP
North Antrim: Jennifer Breslin, Green Party
North Antrim: Connor Duncan, SDLP
North Antrim: Paul Frew, DUP
North Antrim: Timothy Gaston, TUV
North Antrim: Kathryn Johnston, Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee
North Antrim: Philip Logan, DUP
North Antrim: Stephen McFarland, Alliance
North Antrim: David McIlveen, DUP
North Antrim: Daithi Gerard McKay, Sinn Fein
North Antrim: James Simpson, Conservatives
North Antrim: Mervyn Storey, DUP
North Antrim: Robin Swann, UUP
North Antrim: Andrew Wright, UUP
North Down
North Down: Steven Agnew, Green Party

DUP +0.3%, Sinn Fein +0.4%, SDLP -0.3%, UUP -0.1%, Alliance +0.2%, TUV +0.2%, UKIP -0.4%, Green Party +0.1%, NI Conservatives -0.1%, PUP nc, PBP +0.1%, Others -0.4%. nc = No Change

So the big two parties have consolidated again with the DUP showing a gain of +0.3%, after a hefty drop in our March Poll of 1/2 point (0.5%) i.e. compared to our February poll, and Sinn Fein have also advanced 0.3% compared to the February Tracker Poll.

This perhaps shows that the big two parties, with their substantial election machines are consolidating their core supporters.

However, it's the trends that should be noted when following polls over a period of time - Hence our name of 'Tracker' polls.

The Alliance party and the TUV have been continually advancing in all our polls over recent months, albeit by small amounts, but that trend is there and should be noted. The Alliance party is now up at 8.3%, and the TUV advancing again to 4.3%.

The SDLP and the UUP have dropped back a bit. Independents/Others have also dropped back a bit - this isn't unusual coming up to the decision time of election day as its usual for a lot of the 'Others' vote to go back to the mainstream parties as voting day approaches.

EU REFERENDUM POLL RESULTS: Northern Ireland trending toward 'leave' and Obama has impact on unionists.

Graph 3 shows the way our NI representative Opinion Panel is currently intending to vote in the EU referendum - These are the results from the total poll, balanced and weighted to be reflective of Northern Ireland as a whole.

So compared to our March 'Tracker' poll 'remain' is down 6.5% points, 'leave' is up about 1 % point, and the undecideds (but intending to vote) has grown back again to 11.8% - up a very large 5% since our March poll.

These are fairly big changes from our last March Tracker poll, and with changes like these we often get comments like the polls are 'all over the place'.

Our answer to that is yes they are.

And why?

It's because the people are all over the place on this issue as well. With this EU referendum there is constant movement from undecided to remain, then perhaps to leave, and then back again perhaps to undecided (but still intending to vote). I'm sure we all know people in Northern Ireland who are going through all these sorts of changing of minds over their decision on this issue.

As per our February and March 'Tracker' polls, and our January/February BIG100 poll, i.e. there is a large difference of opinion between the traditional Northern Ireland unionist and nationalist communities on this issue.

Graph 4 shows how unionists think about the EU referendum issue. In terms of the drop in the unionist 'temain' vote and the growth in the unionist 'undecideds', a lot of this seems to be a reaction to Obama's comments during his recent visit. Unionists didn't seem to like being 'talked down to' like that - as one poll respondent termed it.

Graphs 5 and 6 show how nationalist/republican voters and Alliance/Green voters are planning to vote on the EU issue on June 23.

Both these groupings are still 80-90% solidly for 'remain', as per previous polls.

Interestingly there is once again a big difference of opinion between men and women on the EU issue.

We also again asked about what were the factors that people were considering in terms of making up their minds about the EU referendum.

The dominant reason emerging among the 'leave' voters and crucially the 'undecideds' is immigration/border controls. Again more details in our full report.


Polling was carried out by Belfast based polling and market research company LucidTalk. The project was carried out online for a period of 60 Hours from 10am April 26 to 10pm April 25 2016 (60 Hours). The project targeted the established LucidTalk Opinion Panel (1,800 members) which is balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background, in order to be demographically representative of Northern Ireland. 1,168 full responses were received, and a data auditing process was carried out to ensure all completed poll-surveys were genuine 'one-person, one-vote' responses, resulting in 1,082 responses being considered in terms of the final results.

All data results have been weighted by gender and community background to reflect the demographic composition of Northern Ireland. All data results produced are accurate to a margin of error of +/-3.0%, at 95% confidence.

All surveys and polls may be subject to sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting. NB In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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). The BPC are the primary UK professional body ensuring professional Polling and Market Research standards. All polling, research, sampling, methodologies used, market research projects and results and reports production are, and have been, carried out to the professional standards laid down by the BPC.

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