Thoughts on the latest Lucid Talk poll … – Slugger O’Toole

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Northern Ireland is probably still heading for an FM SF; there will be no vote to eliminate the NI protocol in the next Assembly; both unionist and nationalist designations will lose seats to Others; and Alliance is still on track to become the third party. These are the main results that would follow if yesterday Lucid Talk poll for the Belfast Telegraph replicate in May.

SF

2017 28% 27 places

24% poll 19 – 24 places

SF looks stuck. In the three elections of 2019, SF got 23%, 22% and 23%. In Lucid Talk’s last 5 quarterly polls it has been consistently at 25% or 24%. It was also at 24% in the recent Liverpool Uni. survey. Perhaps worrying for SF is that in the last two elections it actually performed below the votes in the Lucid Talk poll – 4% and 3%, respectively. Clearly, SF will be campaigning to defend seats in many constituencies.

Certainly there is still no sign of voters from other nationalist parties weighing behind SF in order to secure a nationalist FM.

He must rely on the weakness of the DUP rather than his own strength to take the FM position.

DUP

2017 28% 28 places

18% poll 17 – 19 places

If SF and DUP tie for seats, the FM position goes to the party with the largest 1ns preference vote. That would be SF.

The DUP will take heart from a 5-point improvement over the disastrous August poll. But in reality, his problems are far from over. They still haven’t returned to 19% last January, which helped put sleds under Arlene Foster. It remains to be seen how successfully they can milk the “Stop the SF FM” line. Voters shun divided parties, and much of their relative recovery could simply be due to not being in the midst of a leadership coup.

Party members, and more specifically the dozen MLAs facing the prospect of the subsidy queue, will try to do better at Donaldson.

TUV

2017 3% 1 place

11% poll 7 – 10 places

Now this is where it gets interesting. In the last two Assembly elections, a third of all TUV votes came from North Antrim. The rest is distributed thinly in the other constituencies. So it appears that the party is almost certainly obliged to reach a high voting threshold before gaining seats in proportion to its total share of votes. It is not possible to be precise as to where this threshold is, but as long as the party wins 10% or more, that’s okay. Go far below this and seat numbers may drop rapidly.

If the TUV were to lose another 2 points in favor of the DUP, we could only look at 2 to 5 places for the TUV with, the DUP from 21 to 24 or even 25.

That’s how close the FM position is to being in play.

alliance

2017 9% 8 places

15% poll 13 – 15 places

UUP

2017 13% 10 places

14% poll 10 – 12 places

These seat numbers assume the independent unionist wins again in East Londonderry. If he loses his seat number, UUP rises to 11-13.

While the UUP fell 2% in the past 3 months, Alliance pulled back 2%. Of course, this could just be a normal fluctuation in polls – or it could suggest that Doug Beattie’s efforts to give his party a more socially liberal face were nullified by joining forces with the DUP, TUV and PUP in the Ulster Day statement.

SDLP

2017 12% 12 places

12% poll 10 – 12 places

The SDLP could face a complex campaign: fighting to defend vulnerable seats in some constituencies and for possible seats in others. Getting the balance right could be a challenge.

Green

2017 2% 2 places

2% survey 0 – 2 places

PBPA

2017 2% 1 place

2% survey 1 – 2 places

The strength of the 3 designations would be:

Unionist:

2017 46% 40 seats (1 less than the restricted voting quota)

Survey 43% * 37 – 40 places

Nationalist:

2017 40% * 39 seats (3 more than the restricted voting quota)

Survey 36% * 30 – 34 places

Other:

2017 14% 11 seats (2 less than the restricted voting quota)

19% survey * 16 – 19 places

* Note that there is also 2% for other parties and independents, some of which will be unionists or nationalists.

Michael Hehir is a retired Sales and Marketing Director. He studied in Northern Ireland but now lives between England and Italy.

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