The Portadown Times has been given exclusive access to an independent opinion poll that has been conducted across the Upper Bann area in advance of the forthcoming General Election.
The poll, carried out by a professional polling company based in Belfast, surveyed 620 people across the areas of Banbridge, Portadown and Lurgan during the last number of weeks. It is understood this is the only professional poll of its size that has been carried out during the campaign to gauge public voting intentions as the political parties slog it out during the campaign.
The results, published in today’s paper, indicate a much tighter race than perhaps first thought. The DUP’s David Simpson leads in the opinion poll with just over 30 per cent of those polled indicating they intend to vote for the outgoing DUP MP. Sinn Fein’s Catherine Seeley is in a close second with around 28 per cent of those polled indicating they would back the local Sinn Fein candidate. Twenty-five percent indicate support for Jo-Anne Dobson and the SDLP candidate Dolores Kelly with around 10 per cent.
The results of the poll will heighten the focus in the Upper Bann constituency as some have predicted this election to be more closely fought than on previous occasions. It would appear to indicate that Sinn Fein may in fact see Upper Bann as a realistic target in the campaign in circumstances where the unionist vote is divided.
Of the results David Simpson said: “I have been privileged to serve the people of Upper Bann as their Member of Parliament for the last two terms. During that time I have endeavoured to be a strong voice for the people of the constituency in Parliament and to work for them through my local office network. Now more than ever Upper Bann needs a strong unionist voice in Parliament.
“This poll clearly demonstrates that this election is a contest between me and the Sinn Fein candidate. Sinn Fein would rob Upper Bann of its representation and use a victory in this area to strengthen the republican agenda. We must not allow that to happen.
“The poll findings blow a hole in the argument from some that Sinn Fein is no electoral threat. Both the 2011 Assembly results and now this latest independent poll indicate the election battle is a clear two-candidate race – between Simpson and Sinn Fein.
“I regret that the unionist vote is split and I understand that other candidates do not want to admit it but the facts are that the only way to ensure that Upper Bann has full-time unionist representation in Parliament is by voting for me as the only unionist candidate who can hold the seat. A vote for any other unionist risks allowing Sinn Fein to win.
“On the doors people are indicating that they recognise the work that I have done for them and that I am the only candidate who can ensure Upper Bann continues to have full-time unionist representation.”