We know what our elected politicians think about the potential legalisation of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. A majority of MLAs backed its introduction in 2015, but the motion failed in the Assembly due to insufficient levels of support from unionist MLAs (leaving it blocked through a petition of concern).
But what does the public think?
This week LucidTalk ran its regular ‘Tracker’ poll of its established Northern Ireland online Opinion Panel of 10,103 members. It received 3,104 responses, from which LucidTalk constructed a robust, representative sample of 2,080
Respondents were asked not simply about their attitudes towards same-sex marriage, but specifically whether or not they would vote for it in a referendum: Same-Sex Marriage is now legal in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, but not in Northern Ireland. If a referendum on Same-Sex Marriage was to be held in Northern Ireland tomorrow, which way would you vote?
61% of respondents said, ‘Yes – Same-Sex marriage should be legal in Northern Ireland’. 32% answered, ‘No – The current NI Law should remain as it is’. A further 6% did not know or had no opinion on the topic.
This result is nothing particularly new. Based on other polls, a majority of people in Northern Ireland consistently support the introduction of same-sex marriage. As Leo Varadkar said on his visit couple of months ago that same-sex marriage is “only a matter of time” here.
Perhaps more interesting is looking at who supports it and who opposes it.
Of the participants who support a unionist party, (47.2% in the sample), 38% would vote in favour of same-sex marriage compared to 56% who would rather see that the current law stay the same. Among unionist voters it would be interesting to run a crosstabulation between attitudes towards same-sex marriage and age. Previous polling data suggests a significant gap between younger and older voters.
Among nationalist/republican voters (42%), an overwhelming 91% say they would support same-sex marriage in a referendum, and only 7% would vote No. Similarly, among respondents who would vote for Alliance, the Green Party or an independent candidate (11% of the sample), support for same-sex marriage hit 93%, with 5% saying they would vote against it.
Overall, the level of support for same-sex marriage is high in this LucidTalk poll, but the levels of support are slightly lower compared to an Ipsos-Mori poll from 2015. It found that 68% of respondents favoured the introduction of same-sex marriage, with 27% opposed. A key difference lies in the question being asked: LucidTalk asked respondents how they would vote in the event of a referendum; Ipsos-Mori asked respondents about their attitudes towards the issue. The two are not necessarily the same thing.
Overall, the results suggest that a referendum would pass, but there are notable differences in the levels of support between nationalist, unionist and other voters. This may be a cause for optimism – embedded with a degree of caution –among the people who would be directly affected by any change in the law: the people who would like to get married.
Methodology, and more on LucidTalk
Polling was carried out by Belfast based polling and market research company LucidTalk. The project was carried out online for a period of 80 Hours from 1pm 8th September 2017 to 9pm 11th September 2017 (80 Hours). The project targeted the established Northern Ireland (NI) LucidTalk online Opinion Panel (10,103 members) which is balanced by gender, age-group, area of residence, and community background, in order to be demographically representative of Northern Ireland.
3,104 full responses were received, and a data auditing process was carried out to ensure all completed poll-surveys were genuine ‘one-person, one-vote’ responses, and also to collate a robust and accurate balanced NI representative sample. This resulted in 2,080 responses being considered in terms of the final results – the results presented in this article.
All data results have been weighted by gender and community background to reflect the demographic composition of Northern Ireland resulting in 2,080 responses being considered in terms of the final results. All data results produced are accurate to a margin of error of +/-3.0%, at 95% confidence.
LucidTalk is a member of all recognised professional Polling and Market Research organisations, including the UK Market Research Society (UK-MRS), the British Polling Council (BPC), and ESOMAR (European Society of Market Research organisations).
For more information, visit www.lucidtalk.co.uk and follow @LucidTalk on Twitter.