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Alex Kane

Poll raises questions for DUP - but party will heave sigh of relief as primary challenger UUP a genteel sloth

Alex Kane


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First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, there is nothing so instructive as the observation of trifles. So, while the headline story in the LucidTalk poll was the widening gap between the DUP and Sinn Fein (raising the possibility of Michelle O'Neill as First Minister at the 2022 Assembly election), I was more struck by what seems to be a shift of support from the DUP to the TUV.

That direction of travel matters. Jim Allister is - and he will know I mean no disrespect - the TUV. There has always been a respect, albeit sometimes grudging, for him across unionism: yet, so far, that respect hasn't translated into the vote level he needs to grow his party in the Assembly. And I don't expect that to change. Which allows the DUP to breathe a sigh of relief, because it holds out the reasonable prospect of presently disaffected supporters returning to them at the next election.

There's another trifle. The UUP is showing no signs of growth: which is an extraordinary thing at a time when the DUP has so many external (and internal) challenges. Steve Aiken, just entering his 15th month as UUP leader, has a good/great rating of only 17%, with 83% registering bad/don't know. Again, the DUP will heave a sigh of relief, because its primary challenger on the unionist side seems to have the ongoing traction of a particularly genteel sloth.


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