WESTMINSTER ELECTION - The Polls: Will they be right?

LucidTalk with U105 are running a seminar on the upcoming Westminster Election: Monday 5th June (6.15pm, Dark Horse, Hill Street, Belfast) 
Welcome drink, refreshments, and 'nibbles' all included. 

Speakers will include:
Alex Kane (Northern Ireland Political Commentator)
Daithi McKay (former Sinn Fein MLA)
Basil McCrea (former UUP MLA)
Grainne Walsh (Stratagem)
James McMordie (Northern Slant)
and others - to be announced

Topics: Latest NI and GB Polling, Seats to watch, Some predictions!, Polls and Bookmakers - what they say, What the NI Polling says about an Irish Language Act, a Border poll, the local Stormont institutions, Brexit, & more.. + a panel discussion (including you the audience!) about the local political situation!

Admission is free, but please register (for Nos estimation etc.): LT POLLS EVENT - REGISTER


In a major review of UK and International polling since the UK General Election 2015, LucidTalk have been commended for their polling predictions and performance during and for the NI Assembly Election March 2017. In a major review of UK and International Polling by Sky NEWS - LT were praised for their polling performance in the recent NI Assembly elections. See (ie click on): SKYNEWS POLLING REVIEW (about 2/3 down: 'UK regional elections') - 'Elections to the devolved parliaments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales get less coverage than general elections, and are polled less frequently. However, there have been some real successes in a difficult time for the UK industry. The one pollster publishing polls for the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2017, Lucid Talk, got the result pretty much bang on'. NB Apart from the LT reference(!), - This is also an excellent review about the UK and International polls since the 2015 UK General Election.


LucidTalk run, and have been running, regular Northern Ireland (NI) Opinion Panel 'Tracker Polls' every 2-3 months to constantly gauge and estimate NI public opinion on a wide range of issues e.g. politics, business, consumer, lifestyle etc. Here we present the report from our April 2017 NI-Wide Opinion Panel Tracker Poll - this is the first of our three pre NI Westminster Election NI Opinion Panel 'Tracker' polls researching NI representative opinions and views during the build-up to the NI Westminster Election on 8th June 2017. For these polls we researched voting intention, election issues, and NI Political Party Ratings etc..

The polls are regular 'Tracker' polls of the established LT Northern Ireland Opinion Panel (now nearly 8,000 members). The LucidTalk Opinion Panel consists of Northern Ireland residents (age 18+) and is balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background, in order to be demographically representative of Northern Ireland. For this April 2017 poll-project our NI-Wide and representative Opinion Panel was targeted, and invited to participate, 3,187 full responses were received and 2,080 responses were used to determine the final results (researched to be a robust and accurate sample of NI opinion).

April 2017 NI Opinion Panel 'Tracker' Poll - Full Results Report - Click:
NI OPINION PANEL - Pre-Westminster Election Poll 1 (April 2017)

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 11am 27th April 2017 to 11pm 29th April 2017 (60 Hours). The project targeted the established LucidTalk NI-Wide Opinion Panel (7,863 members) which is balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background, in order to be demographically representative of Northern Ireland(NI). 3,187 full responses were received and a data auditing process ensured all completed poll-surveys were genuine 'one-person, one-vote' responses, and also to ensure a robust NI representative sample of opinion. This resulted in 2,080 responses being considered in terms of the final results, and that the 2,080 responses received and used were a demographically representative sample of Northern Ireland - producing results that were representative of NI Opinion to within an error of +/-3%. 


So here we go again! No-one saw it coming – a UK General Election on 8th June. After successfully forecasting the NI Assembly election to within 1%, we're now once again getting our plans and resources together for our polling projects during the upcoming NI Westminster election campaign. The election will be six weeks from this coming Thursday – so taking into account this timescale, LT have scheduled three pre-election NI-Wide polls during the campaign period:

27th – 29th April (60 Hours): Results available – 1st May (Monday)
15th – 17th May (60 Hours): Results available – 18th May (Thursday)
1st – 3rd June (60 Hours): Results available – 4th June (Sunday)

For each Poll-project we will be targeting our now nearly 8,000-member representative online NI Opinion Panel, and from the resulting several thousand expected responses, a robust 2,580 NI sample will be constructed – structured as a balanced-representative sample of NI in terms of all key demographics e.g. gender, community, age, residence area, etc. This will comply with all professional polling and market research standards for accurate representation of opinion.

Plus, as well as this general NI wide polling of LT’s representative online Opinion Panel which will track views, opinions, and voting intention, on a NI-Wide basis, LT will also be carrying out ‘Deep Polling’ in key constituencies by specifically targeting the sub-sectors of the LT Opinion Panel resident and voting in those constituencies (representative sample sizes of at least 500 in each constituency). These ‘key’ constituencies will be: North Belfast, South Belfast, East Belfast, South Antrim, Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and Upper Bann. However, NB these ‘key’ constituencies may change dependent on candidates running, and how the campaign develops etc. With these separate ‘deep polls’ in each of these key ‘marginal constituencies’ we’ll be able to accurately track trends, who’s winning, and make firm predictions/forecasts e.g. probability of Naomi Long winning East Belfast etc.


We will also be using our systems based NI Westminster Election Seat Predictor model (last used very successfully for the GE 2015). This computer based predictor model is constantly being improved and enhanced, and we’re again confident that it will be able to closely predict this upcoming Westminster election in NI. The model uses the last 3 major NI election results, and the most recent LT polling, as data input to the model – the model then predicts likelihood in % terms, of seats being won by the various parties, broken down by the 18 Westminster constituencies. We’ve run the model, using the 3 most recent NI elections and the 3 most recent LT polls (all 2017 LT polls – i.e. pre the 2017 NI Assembly election), and it generated the results shown in the enclosed table (LINK BELOW). This will be our ‘Base Table’ (used as a starting point for this Westminster election), and we will re-run the seat predictor model again after each of the polls identified above (i.e. using that polls data as the main input to the model) – this will enable tracking of trends up or down for each of the political parties in each of the 18 NI Westminster constituencies as the campaign progresses, and therefore the seat predictor model should also get ‘more accurate’, and up-to-date, as the campaign progresses, as it will be using/analysing the latest poll data.

So what does the model currently show (results in enclosed table - link below)? Interestingly, the model predicts that Sinn Fein are now the narrow favourites to re-capture the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat from the Ulster Unionists – they are rated at 55% for this seat. This isn’t surprising, taking into account that our recent 2017 pre NI Assembly election polls, and the election itself, all showed and produced a strong Sinn Fein performance. Remember the data from our polls and the recent election are the key inputs into our computer-based seat predictor model. However, taking into account the Sinn Fein surge in recent NI Assembly election we were surprised the seat predictor model didn’t predict Sinn Fein for Fermanagh and South Tyrone at 60%+! However, this rating may change following our polls during the campaign. Perhaps what’s keeping the Sinn Fein rating for this seat at ‘only’ 55% is that we also have an incumbency weighting built-in to our predictor model – incumbents (in this case the UUPs Tom Elliott) always have an advantage in Westminster first-past-the-post elections.

East Belfast is showing as a DUP hold, but at a probability of 65%. This is again lower than expected for an incumbent MP (Gavin Robinson) who is from NI’s largest party. However, the model has probably been impacted by the Alliance Partys strong showing in the recent 2017 NI Assembly election and in recent LT polls. Alliance are the main challengers for this seat, and will have a chance if party leader Naomi Long is the candidate – a 65% DUP win probability is OK, but it’s by no means certain. Again of course, this win-probability score may change following our upcoming polling. Alasdair McDonnell, who is defending the marginal South Belfast constituency for the SDLP, comes in at 60% probability. The model reflecting that, yes, he’s the current MP, but is vulnerable to a strong Unionist candidate, plus the further seat predictor model forecasts for this seat will obviously be dependent on whether there are election pacts between certain parties.

The other seat win-probability scores, for the rest of the 18 NI Westminster seats, are shown in the enclosed table (link below). Not surprisingly, 9 of the 18 seats are showing win-probability scores of 100% for the named political party (all of them the incumbent party) e.g. North Antrim for the DUP, West Belfast for Sinn Fein etc. Unless something dramatic happens we don’t see these scores changing for any of these 9 seats – although North Down is very dependent on whether the sitting MP Sylvia Hermon runs again, but at this stage the view is that she will.

So watch out for the results from the next NI Westminster seat predictor model to be published 3rd-5th May, following our first scheduled pre-election poll (see above).