Arlene Foster takes a polling hit ahead of Stormont election

Sinn Féin and the DUP are neck and neck


New polling suggests that the DUP has taken a considerable hit since the scandal over DUP leader Arlene Foster’s handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) broke, triggering elections to Stormont next month.

According to the findings, compiled by Lucid Talk, 25.87 per cent of people in Northern Ireland plan to vote DUP, down by 3.3 per cent since the elections to the Assembly last year. Sinn Fein meanwhile are up 1.1 per cent to 25.1 per cent.

The SDLP remain relatively unchanged on 12.36 per cent, followed by the Ulster Unionists Party on 13.9 per cent, the Alliance on 8.88 per cent and the hard-line TUV on 4.25 per cent.

Foster’s leadership rating has plummeted to 21.6 per cent, down from 29 per cent before the RHI scandal, and a high of 49 per cent in December last year.

Ahead of the pack in respect of leadership rating is the Alliance’s Naomi Long on 52 per cent followed by TUV Leader, Jim Allister on 48.85 per cent, Sinn Fein’s new leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill on 46.1 per cent and the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood on 44 per cent.

When the Unionist only vote is analysed, it shows that Jim Allister leads, followed by UUP leader, Mike Nesbitt on 49 per cent.  Remarkably Arlene Foster is just half a percentage point above Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill who was bottom on 28.9 per cent.

Reassuringly for Ms Foster, among DUP members, 72 per cent rate her as leader.

LucidTalk’s managing director Bill White said of the DUP’s three per cent decrease  that it was ‘quite a drop’. He went on however to warn that this ‘may not totally translate into dropping a similar relatively large number of seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. This is because it would take an even larger drop to really feed into the party losing the comparative number of seats.’

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward

See: Arlene Foster should resign over Northern Ireland energy farce

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