Almost a fifth of DUP voters migrated to Alliance Party

Posted By: March 06, 2020

John Manley. Irish News.Belfast. Friday, March 6, 2020

ALMOST a fifth of DUP voters migrated to Alliance in December’s Westminster election when Naomi Long’s party more than doubled its share of the vote, new research reveals.

Alliance vote share surged from 7.9 percent in 2017 to 16.8 percent, with the party securing the North Down seat vacated by Lady Sylvia Hermon in the process.

Research from the University of Liverpool conducted during December’s snap general election shows that 18.6 percent of Alliance voters had voted for the DUP in the corresponding poll in 2017, while 11.8 percent had voted for Sinn Féin. The DUP’s share of the vote dropped by 5.4 percentage points and Sinn Féin’s by 6.7 percentage points.

University of Liverpool’s Professor Jon Tonge said the elsewhere their research had shown that voters disaffected by Stormont’s dormancy had punished the two biggest parties.

“I think this tends to confirm that a significant number of voters bypassed the other parties and went straight from either the DUP or Sinn Féin to Alliance, showing their frustration with the bigger parties over issues like the health crisis,” he said.

“It also nails the myth that Alliance was hoovering up liberal Ulster Unionist votes.”

The survey found that almost a quarter of the DUP’s vote was made up of those who did not vote at the last election, compared to 12.6 percent of Alliance voters and just 2.6 percent of Sinn Féin’s.

Analysis of voters’ age profile shows that of The North’s largest five parties the DUP has the smallest proportion of young voters (18 to 29 – 11.6 percent) and the highest proportion of elderly voters (65+ – 24.3 percent).

Notably, Alliance has the second smallest proportion of younger voters (15.9 percent) and the smallest proportion of elderly voters (19.6 percent), while Sinn Féin has the highest number of younger voters at 17.7 percent.

The survey highlights a growing liberalization across Northern Ireland, with younger people’s attitudes differing significantly from their parents and grandparents.

Sinn Féin and DUP voters are “less socially liberal and inter-community minded” than most other groups, the research shows,  but younger Catholics and Protestants, especially non-voters, “generally agree on social and inter-community issues”.

The research also points, ostensibly at least, to growing support for mixed education among DUP voters, with a minority (47.5 percent) advocating an ‘own-religion school’ for their children compared to 56.1 percent of their Sinn Féin voting counterparts.