Belfast Telegraph

'Moderate' politicians McCrea, Nesbitt, Ford and McDonnell more popular with women voters

Day 3 of the Belfast Telegraph's exclusive opinion poll shows women tend to support more moderate political leaders

NI21 leader Basil McCrea
NI21 leader Basil McCrea
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell
Alliance leader David Ford
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt


Our poll showed that women were generally less critical and more moderate in their views than men, though less likely to vote or take part in politics.

In today's "popularity contest" question where those polled were asked to pick a party, women tended to support leaders who were perceived to be more moderate in greater numbers than men.

For instance 5.7% of women supported Basil McCrea compared to 2.5% of men and for David Ford the figures were 5.2% women and 2.5% men.

Mike Nesbitt and Alasdair McDonnell also did better with women than men and on the rating question more women thought negatively about the two big party leaders than did men.

Though to put things in perspective Peter Robinson (20.2% of women and 24.1% of men) and Martin McGuinness (16.4% of women and 23.8% of men) were still the two favourite politicians for females as well as males.

Difficulty in securing female support in the same proportion as male support is something which hits Sinn Fein on both sides of the border and the party has tried to address the discrepancy by putting more women in leading roles and has adopted a range of feminist policies.

In our poll just over half as many women (10.3%) said they would vote Sinn Fein as men. The differential for the DUP was nearly as large – 12.1% of females compared to 29.9% of males.

However, the effect on the overall showing of the two parties was muted by the fact that men voted in greater overall numbers.

Although women were less likely to vote than men, 51% saying they wouldn't, they were not as strongly critical of Stormont's performance as men.

They gave it a -41 rating compared to -60 for the population as a whole.

When it came to flags slightly over half as many women, 14.8%, wanted the union flag flown every day at council offices as men, 28% of whom supported the idea.

15.7% of men wanted the tricolour flown alongside the Union flag but fewer women, 8.1%, agreed. Women were less enthusiastic about Irish unity than men, with only one in 50 (1.9%) seeing it as an immediate option compared to 5.9% of men.

Just 16.2% wanted it in 20 years, an opinion more favoured by men (28.7%).

Women were generally less critical of individuals.

They rated Theresa Villiers higher as Secretary of State (-7.1) compared to men (-11.3) and were also less critical about Matt Baggott as Chief Constable (-8, as opposed to -18 from men).

The Queen scored +4.1 with females, but only +0.3 with men.


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