|This page offers analyses of the voting in the May 22nd Referrendum on the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. It looks at the overall vote, and the support from each community. During the campaign by the 'Yes' and 'No' groups between the signing of the Good Friday Agreement on 10 April 1998 and the Referrendum of 22nd May 1998, the Northern Ireland media was alive with opinion polls. This page offers an analysis of how these polls changed over time.|
It was a well known fact that those in the Unionist and Protestant communities were much more likely to be against the Agreement than those in the Nationalist and Catholic communities. It would be very interesting to find out what proportion of the Protestant community voted Yes. Although this cannot be found directly, a good estimate can be found if we assume that those who voted did so in the same Catholic-Protestant proportion as the makeup of Northern Ireland as a whole; ie if we assume that 38% of voters were Catholic.
It is a simple matter to calculate the Protestant vote if we know the Catholic vote. The Catholic vote was an average of 93% Yes during pre-Referrendum polls - much more predicatable than the Protestant vote. We can assume therefore that Catholics voted somewhere between 85 - 100% Yes. Therefore we have calculated the total Protestant Yes vote for various assumed Catholic votes:
As you can see, even if the Catholic vote was 100% yes, then the majority of Protestants (53%) are still voting Yes. We can state with reasonable certainty that the majority of Protestants voted Yes on May 22 1998. As we stated above, the Catholic vote was an average of 93% during the pre-Referrendum polling, so we can suggest that the Protestant 'Yes' vote was 57%.
Any analysis done involving figures for Unionism/Nationalism is bound to cause controversy, as all surveys get condemned by whichever group comes out worst. However, one of the major surverys in recent years was a survey on the issue done by Market Research Northern Ireland and Queens' University on 12-20 March 1998 which surveyed political aspirations. It found that 98% of Protestants and 32% of Catholics claim to be Unionist, and 2% of Protestants and 68% of Catholics claim to be Nationalist.
Using these figures we have repeated the same kind of analysis we did above, only this time for political aspiration. It is a simple matter to calculate the Unionist vote if we know the Nationalist vote. The Nationalist vote was an average of 94% Yes during pre-Referrendum polls - much more predicatable than the Unionist vote. We can assume that Nationalists voted somewhere between 85 - 100% Yes. Therefore we have calculated the total Unionist Yes vote for various assumed Nationalist votes:
As you can see, even if the Nationalist vote was 100% yes, then the majority of Unionists (58%) are still voting Yes. We can state with reasonable certainty that the majority of Unionists voted Yes on May 22 1998. As we stated above, the Nationalist vote was an average of 94% during the pre-Referrendum polling, so we can suggest that the Unionist 'Yes' vote was 60%.
Support for the Agreement 20 March 1998 - 21 May 1998
These figures are all taken from opinion polls published in the media. The first column is the date that the poll was conducted. If no conducted date is given, then the date is the date of publication. The second column is the name of the organisation(s) who conducted the poll, and their sample size, if known. The last column gives the proportion of voters who voted each way. The 'undecided's have been removed, and the Yes/No values adjusted to make them percentages adding to 100%. Details of these polls are given in Appendix A.
|DATE||POLL (sample size)||RESULT (red = yes, blue = no)|
|20 March 1998||Pre-Agreement Poll (1000)||7723|
|15 April 1998||Guardian/Irish Times (500)||8416|
|18 April 1998||Sunday Independent (1000)||8020|
|25 April 1998||RTE (850)||7921|
|10 May 1998||UK Government (?)||6733|
|13 May 1998||Irish Times (500)||6931|
|15 May 1998||Gallup / Daily Telegraph (?)||7921|
|17 May 1998||Newsletter / Irish News* (?)||6634|
|19 May 1998||UTV / Belfast Telegraph (?)||7228|
|21 May 1998||Irish Times (?)||7129|
*This poll was of young people only. See Appendix A.
|Appendix A - Details of Opinion Polls used Above|
|20 March 1998. A pre-agreement poll covering 1000 people chosen randonly from all sides. 77% would support any Agreement and 23% opposed. It is not known who carried out the poll.|
|13 April 1998. Teletext poll of 8716 people. Voluntary phone-in. 51% intend to vote Yes. 49% intend to vote No. As it was voluntary, it is not used above but is listed here for your interest.|
|15 April 1998. Guardian/Irish Times poll. Sample size 500. 73% said they would vote Yes, 14% said they would vote No and 13% were undecided.|
|18 April 1998. Sunday Independent poll. Sample size of 1000. 52% said they would vote Yes, 13% said No and 35% were undecided or undeclared.|
|29 April 1998. Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) poll. Sample size of 850. Conducted on 25 April. 52% said Yes, 14% No and 34% undecided.|
|10 May 1998 Leaked internal UK government poll. Not very accurate figures (+/- 5%). 67% said Yes and 33% said No. It also stated that 50% of Unionists were saying 'No'.|
|15 May 1998. Irish Times poll. Sample size 500. Conducted on 12-13 May. 56% said Yes, 25% No and 19% undecided. It also said that 55% of Unionists and 10% of Nationalists would vote No.|
|17 May 1998. Joint Belfast Newsletter and Irish News Poll of Northern Ireland young people only. 66% said Yes and 34% No.|
|18 May 1998. Gallup / Daily Telegraph poll. Carried out on 9 to 15 May. 61% said Yes, 16% No and 21% undecided. Of Protestants, 43% said Yes and 27% said No. of Catholics, 89% say Yes and 2% say No.|
|19 May 1998. UTV/Belfast Telegraph poll. 52% said Yes, 20% said No and 25% were undecided. Of Protestants, 34% said Yes and 32% said No. Of Catholics, 76% said Yes and 4% said No.|
|21 May 1998. Conducted on 18 May. 60% said Yes, 25% said No and 15% were undecided. Of Unionists, 40% said Yes 43% No and 17% undecided. Of Nationalists, 96% said Yes, 3% No and 1% undecided.|