Naomi Long could win third NI seat in European election, poll analysis suggests
ALLIANCE leader Naomi Long could win the third seat in tomorrow's European Parliament election in Northern Ireland, an analysis of polling data suggests.
Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson and the DUP's Diane Dodds are expected to be safely returned again when votes are counted on Monday, leaving a battle for the final seat currently held by the UUP.
While Ms Long is expected to poll behind SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy in first preferences, she could move ahead based on transfers.
According to the latest LucidTalk voter survey, Ms Anderson would top the poll with 26.3 per cent of first-preference votes, followed by Ms Dodds on 21.8 per cent.
They would be followed by Mr Eastwood (13.3 per cent), then Mr Kennedy (11.8 per cent) and Ms Long (11.6 per cent).
The other candidates are TUV leader Jim Allister (9.3 per cent), Green Party leader Clare Bailey (3.3 per cent), Ukip's Robert Hill (1.7 per cent), independent Jane Morrice (0.7 per cent), Tory candidate Amandeep Singh Bhogal (0.1 per cent) and independent Neil McCann (0.1 per cent).
LucidTalk's online 'tracker' poll on May 18-19 involved 1,482 responses weighted to be representative of Northern Ireland voters.
It excludes unsure and non-voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 per cent.
The results are broadly similar to an earlier poll on May 4-7. Sinn Féin was down one percentage point, the DUP is up 1.5, the SDLP increased by 0.2, UUP had no change and Alliance was up 0.3.
The earlier poll also examined second-preference intentions of voters.
An analysis by political website Slugger O'Toole suggests Ms Long will be more transfer-friendly than her rivals, pushing her ahead of Mr Eastwood and Mr Kennedy as the count progresses.
Of Sinn Féin voters, 42 per cent said they intend to transfer to Ms Long compared to 23.9 per cent opting for Mr Eastwood.
Similarly with Green Party voters, more said they intend to give their second preference to Alliance (71.3 per cent) compared to the SDLP (5.6 per cent).
Meanwhile, 56.3 per cent of TUV voters planned to transfer to the DUP compared to 19.5 per cent going to the UUP.