Belfast Telegraph

EU referendum: 70% of unionists voting for Brexit

The UK European Union in/out referendum campaign is well underway, and has only four weeks to go. We'll be polling on the EU Referendum issue right up to voting day on June 23.

The benefit of this regular scheduled polling is that it will allow us to see changes in trends and opinions as we approach EU referendum day.

This is our fourth monthly tracker poll (May 2016) of the election season so we now have a good comparison to our previous polls and also our January/February BIG100 Poll. So we can see what way the argument is trending.

Graph 1 shows the way our Northern Ireland representative opinion panel is currently intending to vote in the EU referendum - Mid-May 2016 Tracker Poll. These are the results from the total poll, balanced and weighted to be reflective of Northern Ireland as a whole.

So compared to our April 'tracker' poll 'Remain' is the same at 54.2% (actually down very slightly by 0.2%), 'Leave' has gone up by 1.2% to 35%, the Undecideds (but intending to vote) has dropped by 2.6% to 9.2%, and the 'Will not be voting' has gone from zero to 1.7%.

Graphs 2, 3, and 4 show how the unionists, nationalists/republicans, and Alliance/Green/others are currently intending to vote in the EU referendum.

So we see that compared to our April 'tracker' poll the unionists 'Leave' has gone up a sizable 6.8%, unionists 'Remain' has dropped 2.5%, and the Unionist undecideds (but intending to vote) has dropped by 5.4% to 12.2%, and there are now a small number of unionists 'Will not be voting'.

The above figures and changes among the unionists are significant as they show the continuing trend of the unionists hardening on 'Leave' - with approaching 70% of unionists now intending to vote 'Leave' in the coming June 23 referendum.

Read more: EU Referendum: Northern Ireland says no to Brexit

As expected nationalist/republican voters and Alliance/Green voters are still 80-90% solidly for 'Remain', as per previous polls. So the above follows the same pattern as our February, March and April 'tracker' Polls, and our January/February BIG100 poll, i.e. there is a large (very large) difference of opinion between the traditional Northern Ireland unionist and nationalist communities on this issue.

All our previous polling is showing that unionists are having much more difficulty making up their minds on this issue when compared to nationalist/republican voters and Alliance/Green voters. That trend is still there with the unionist 'Undecided (but intending to vote)' on 12.2% and the overall 'Undecided' on 9.2%.


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Overall it is noticeable that the east of Northern Ireland is more for 'Remain', and the rural mid and west more for 'Leave'. Basically there is no noticeable evidence that, for example, the unionist farmers are more supportive of 'Remain', as some commentators had speculated.

Like our April Tracker poll, it is noteworthy that, on principal, a small number of nationalist/republican voters said they weren't intending to vote at all in the UK EU Referendum stating that as this was a UK-wide referendum, and they didn't consider themselves British, they would therefore not be taking part.

You can appreciate their point, as unlike the Northern Ireland Assembly election the UK EU Referendum is very much a sort of all-UK, all-British affair.


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Similar to the nationalists/republicans, the Alliance/Green/others political family are very solid and unchangeable in their EU Referendum views, with between 8 to 9 out of 10 supporting 'Remain'. All the poll figures for this group have changed less than 1% either way from our March and April Opinion Panel Tracker polls.

Graphs 5 and 6 show how Northern Ireland males and females are intending to vote. Again, and as per our previous polls, we see a difference.

Proportionally males more for 'Leave', and females more for 'Remain' - and this applies across all communities, and incidentally also across all of the UK.


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What do all our poll respondents think the final NI result will be?

We also ask in elections and referendum polls what our poll participants think the actual final overall total NI result will be, regardless of their own views on the issue. This is shown in Graph 7 above, and you can see that our poll respondents think nearly the same as the actual poll turned out with 27% thinking the result will be somewhere in the 55-60% Remain band. As expected when we do the Unionist vs Nationalist/Republican analysis the unionists think the result will be in the 45% to 55% Remain area, with the nationalist/republicans thinking it'll be 60% or above Remain.

EU Referendum - Reasons for voting decision: 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 main reasons for people voting 'Remain' were the same as our previous polls:

(1) NI specifically gains from the EU - business, agriculture, social programs etc. (2) UK & NI are net beneficiaries from the EU i.e. the UK gets more out than it puts in. (3) To remain in same trading block as Republic of Ireland,

In terms of those who said they were going to vote to 'Leave' here are the main factors stated in order of how popular they were indicated:

(1) Immigration - UK & NI needs more control of its borders. (2) The EU is becoming an super-state not a trading block & not democratically accountable for decisions. (3) UK is a net contributor to the EU & NI would gain from the saving.

Like our March and April Opinion Panel Tracker poll the No. 1 reason for voting 'Leave' is Immigration, and lack of border controls. However, again in this May poll (like our April poll) this reason was even further ahead of Reason No. (2), showing that Immigration/Border Controls and controlling immigration is increasingly now becoming the overwhelming reason for NI people voting 'Leave'.

In addition, the 'Undecideds' showed that the following two factors were uppermost in their minds in terms of deciding what way to vote in the referendum:

(a) NI specifically gains from the EU - business, agriculture, social programs etc. (reason to remain) (b) Immigration - UK & NI needs more control of its borders. (reason to leave)

It's key to note, that even among the 'Undecideds', and as per our previous polls immigration and border controls is an increasing concern, and is 'in a battle' with the gains that NI obtains from EU membership, i.e. in terms of the Undecideds eventually deciding which way to vote. Again, it's important to note that the majority of the 'Undecideds' come from the Unionist community.

So it looks as if Northern Ireland may be tending towards a close result with 'Remain' having the edge at the moment. Again its important to note that nearly seven out of 10 unionist voters are currently intending to vote Leave.


Methodology: 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 17th May to 10pm 19th May 2016 (60 Hours). The project targeted the established LucidTalk Opinion Panel (1,940 members) which is balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background, in order to be demographically representative of Northern Ireland. 1,343 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 1,090 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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