Belfast Telegraph

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

By Bill White

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:

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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