Despite the name of this site in practice it is often more GBPollingReport than UKPollingReport. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of opinion polls cover only Great Britain and exclude Northern Ireland. This is very much a historical legacy – the way things have always been – presumably because of the very different party system in Ulster. Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of demand for market research in Northern Ireland, so most pollsters don’t really operate there to a significant degree.

As a result there is very little polling on today’s Assembly election in Northern Ireland. The only company that really does regular political polling is LucidTalk, who’ve done regular Assembly voting intention trackers over the last month or so.

They published a final election poll earlier this week, conducted over the weekend. Topline figures with changes since the 2016 Assembly election were DUP 26.3%(-2.9), Sinn Fein 25.3%(+1.3), UUP 13.9%(+1.3), SDLP 12.2%(+0.2), Alliance 9.5%(+2.4), TUV 4.4%(+1), GRN 3.4%(+0.7). If those turned out to be the result it would suggest comparatively little change since last year’s election – the DUP would have lost votes, but would still be the largest party and are still obviously the dominant force on the Unionist side of politics. Exactly how that translates into seats given the complicated politics of Northern Ireland is a different matter. Full details are here.

LucidTalk are also doing some on-the-day polling today to check for any last minute movement – if that shows any shift they’ll be be updating tomorrow morning.

The referendum on EU membership will naturally cover the whole of the United Kingdom, but the vast majority of polling covers only Great Britain. This is because Northern Irish politics are so radically different from the rest of the UK. I suppose in some cases one could make a similar case for much more polling in the post-devolution age as Scottish politics diverges more and more from English politics, but we are where we are – the default position is still for polls to cover Great Britain but not Northern Ireland. When we get closer to the referendum I expect we’ll see some start to include Northern Ireland, but for the time being many questions will just be being asked on the back of regular Omnibus surveys covering just Great Britain.

The Belfast Telegraph today have a new poll from Lucidtalk asking specifically about EU voting intention in Northern Ireland. Current Northern Ireland voting intentions are REMAIN 56%, LEAVE 28%. Unionist voters are more than two-to-one against EU membership (REMAIN 21%, LEAVE 54%), Nationalist voters are overwhelmingly pro-EU (REMAIN 91%, LEAVE 8%).

Northern Ireland is only 3% of the UK population so is unlikely to have a decisive effect in the EU referendum unless it’s extremely close – even if Northern Ireland does vote two-to-one in favour of EU membership, that would increase the REMAIN lead in the UK as a whole by about one percentage point. Still, worth remembering when looking at GB polls that the UK position will be ever so marginally more pro-EU once Northern Ireland is included.


Sunday round up

The full tabs for the YouGov/Sunday Times survey are now up here. On the regular leader trackers David Cameron’s figures have returned to somewhat more typical figures after his big increase last week – he is on minus 24 (from minus 18 last week), Ed Miliband is up on minus 25 (from minus 27), Clegg on minus 54 (from minus 53).

Attitudes to the economy have not changed much, with the public continuing to be broadly split. The trend towards people supporting a change in economic policy continues – those who would prefer the government to concentrate on growth now outnumber those supporting concentrating on the deficit by 38% to 30%. Asked if the government’s economic policies are working, only 8% think they have started to work, but a total of 36% think they will eventually work, compared to 39% who think they will never work.

George Osborne himself is viewed very negatively. Only 15% of people now think he is doing a good job as Chancellor, with 56% thinking he is doing badly. Amongst the Conservative party’s own supporters less than half think he is doing well. Asked if David Cameron should replace him, 24% think Osborne should stay as Chancellor, 45% think he should be replaced. Despite these negative findings, he does still have a slightly lead over Ed Balls on who would make the better Chancellor – 28% prefer Osborne, 22% Balls, 50% say don’t know.

On the fuel duty, there is massive support for the cancellation (80% think it was the right thing to do), but that doesn’t necessarily translate into positive perceptions of the government. 46% think it is a sign of government weakness or incompetence, as opposed to 33% who see it as a sign they are listening. These figures correlate strongly with voting intention, which is a good illustration of how the public tend to view things through the prism of their existing positive or negative perceptions of a party. So three-quarters of Tory supporters think a U-turn shows the government being willing to listen and change its mind, three quarters of Labour supporters think it shows a government that is incompetent or weak.

Moving on, YouGov asked who people thought had been the best and worst Chancellor of the last 30 years. Surprisingly Gordon Brown comes top of both. Nigel Lawson and Ken Clarke are seen as the next best Chancellors, Osborne and Lamont as the next worst.

The reason Brown dominates both is interesting methodologically – it is at least partly down to the fact that in the last 30 years there have only been two Labour Chancellors, but six Conservative ones. People tended to answer the question along partisan lines (over half of Labour supporters named a Labour chancellor as best, a Conservative Chancellor as worst, and vice-versa for Conservative supporters), but the Conservative answers were split between six different Chancellors, the Labour answers split only between Brown and Darling.

Going back to the poll, YouGov found predictably negative views of the banks. Hardly anyone thinks they have substantially improved their behaviour since the crisis began. People think they are dishonest by 49% to 28%, and incompetent by 45% to 36%. Only 34% say they trust them a lot or a fair amount with their money. On the futures of Stephen Hester and Bob Diamond, only a minority (35%) think Hester should lose his job over RBS’s software failures (47% think he should stay). In contrast an overwhelming majority are in favour of Bob Diamond resigning – 78% think he should go, compared to just 10% who think he should stay.

On other issues, 56% of people think the Queen was right to shake hands with Martin McGuinness, compared to 24% who think she was wrong to do so. YouGov asked a similar question on the day of the handshake for the Sun, which also asked whether respondents themselves would be prepared to shake hands with Martin McGuinness if they met him. 39% said they would, 39% said they wouldn’t.

There was also a new ICM poll out in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. Their “wisdom index” (that is, respondents predictions of what shares of the vote people would get, rather than how people themselves would vote) stands at Conservatives 31%, Labour 38%, Liberal Democrats 17%.

ICM also asked some questions on potential benefit changes. Overall people tended to think the current benefit system was too generous – 56% thought so, compared to 12% who thought it should be more generous and 24% who think the current balance is about right. On specific measures, there was support for capping child benefit for people with 3 or more children (65% support, 25% opposed), and setting a time limit for how long jobseekers allowance can be paid (48% support, 36% opposed), fairly even splits on stopping housing benefit for under 25s (40% support, 40% opposition) and varying benefit rates by region (39% support, 44% oppose… with, as would expect, a strong regional skew) and opposition to means testing pensioner benefits like the winter fuel allowance (38% support, 51% opposed).

The Belfast Telegraph have the only poll of Northern Ireland in the campaign so far, carried out by Inform Communications. Polling in Northern Ireland does not have a stellar record of success, but for the record their topline figures are DUP 26%, Sinn Fein 25%, SDLP 17%, UCUNF 13%, Alliance 7%, TUV 5%.

They have also published breakdowns by constituency – with a total sample size of 3200, this suggests about 180 or so respondents per seat which is, frankly, nigh on useless for predicting a winner in all but safe seats. For what little it is worth though, it would suggest the closest contests are Upper Bann (between SF and DUP), Fermanagh and South Tyrone (between SF and the Independent Unionist candidate), North Antrim (between the DUP and TUV), North Belfast (between DUP and SF) and South Antrim (between UCUNF and DUP).

Polls in northern Ireland are very rare creatures, not least because they have a rather poor record. There is a strong tendency for them to under-report the proportion of people voting for parties at the more hardline ends of the political spectrum, and over-report those in the centre.

I am not aware of any recent published polls, however, in the run up to the vote on the devolution of policing powers this week two polls were released, one commissioned by the Northern Ireland Office, the other by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). No figures for party support were officially released, but Mark Devenport the BBC’s Northern Ireland political editor has them “unofficially”.

These come with HUGE, TOWERING caveats. We don’t know if they are true, we don’t know if what the companies involved did to get them, and the record of polling in Northern Ireland really isn’t great to begin with. For what it’s worth though:

Red Circle/OFMDFM
TUV 2%
DUP 30%
All 11%
SDLP 19%
SF 16%
Others 4%

Northern Ireland Office
TUV 1%
DUP 26%
All 8%
SDLP 21%
SF 17%
Others 9%

I would not put too much trust in them. Sinn Fein look very low indeed, the Alliance very high. Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice is almost completely absent despite managing 13% in the European elections. However, unless someone commissions a proper poll in Northern Ireland, it is all we have.

UPDATE: I haven’t managed to track down the proper poll Ruairi mentions in the comments, but I have found another proper voting intention poll commissioned by the Belfast Telegraph. A face-to-face quota poll by Inform Communications, weighted by age, gender, community background and class (and it does at least have Sinn Fein ahead of the SDLP). NB – it’s Assembly election voting intention, not Westminster.

Inform/Belfast Telegraph (5th-9th Feb)
TUV 6%
DUP 18%
Alliance 7%
SDLP 13%
Sinn Fein 21%
Others 6%