This is my more detailed analysis of the Armagh and Down councils of Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon, Newry-Mourne-Down and North Down-Ards. The party change in council vote between 2011 and 2014 was:
Overall, there was a 5,174 decline in the total vote between 2011 and 2014. The decline in the nationalist vote was 5,936 and the decline in the unionist vote was 633. There probably was no actual decline in the unionist vote and turnout since that 633 vote decline was due to unionist voters who voted NI21. The Alliance vote was up mainly because they competed in 2 additional DEA’s. The decline in the SF vote was over twice that of the SDLP. Indeed, 20% of all nationalist voters who voted in 2011 stayed home in 2014. The decline in the DUP vote was almost as large as that for SF. The DUP voters defected to the TUV, PUP and UKIP and independent unionists. Half the decline in the UUP vote was probably votes lost to NI21. The only expected change (compared to the results expected from the 2011 vote) was the loss of a SF seat in Craigavon to the DUP and in the Portadown DEA where the UUP and UKIP each picked up additional seats at the expense of the DUP.
In Newry-Mourne-Down the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:
Overall, there was a 4,747 vote decline between 2011 and 2014. There was a 4,306 decline in the nationalist vote and only a 519 decline in the unionist vote. The actual decline in the unionist vote and turnout was actually minimal since some of those voters voted for NI21. The Green candidate in Downpatrick in 2011 stood as an independent in 2014 but I included his vote as Green.
For North Down-Ards the change in party vote between 2011 and 2014 was:
|North Down Ards
|North Down Ards
There was a large decline in turnout of 8,048 voters between 2011 and 2014. Most of that decline was due to the decline in the DUP vote. I estimate that 2/3 of the DUP vote decline was due to voters who stayed home and the other 1/3 defected to the TUV and UKIP. The decline in the UUP vote was probably due to voters who voted for NI21. There also was a large decline in the Alliance vote. Brian Wilson (formerly Green/Alliance) did not stand in 2014 and most of his vote probably went to Green and Alliance candidates. Overall, the nonsectarian vote decline from 2011 accounts for half of the 8,048 vote decline.
I have calculated the unionist and nationalist turnout in all DEA’s using the 2011 voting age population as recorded in the 2011 census. In 4 of North Down-Ards DEA’s it is difficult to estimate the turnout of the Catholic population due to the absence of nationalist candidates. I have used 2011 transfer data to provide estimates. My estimates of Catholic turnout may be high in all DEA’s except Ards Peninsula. For example in the Bangor Central DEA the combined Alliance-Green-NI21 vote was 1509. I assumed that 500 (33%) was from the Catholic electorate even though the Catholic electorate is only 11% in this DEA. The turnout calculation was 20%. It could be as low as 15%. In Holywood and Bangor West DEA’s, it appears that 2/3 of Catholics do not vote for nationalist parties and this would probably be true in the other DEA’s if the SDLP competed.
The Protestant electorate has not changed since 2011 so the unionist turnout figures should be very accurate though they underestimate unionist turnout in some DEA’s where the TUV or UKIP did not compete since some of those voters voted in the Euro election but not the council election. The nationalist turnout figures probably overestimate the nationalist turnout by 1% to 3% because they do not account for the increase in the nationalist electorate since 2011, which would be over 20,000 for all of Northern Ireland.
Of the 7 DEA’s in Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon nationalist turnout is much lower than unionist turnout in all DEA’s ranging from 6% less in Cusher to 24% less in Lagan River. In the Craigavon DEA it was 22% less. The Craigavon DEA has a nationalist electorate of 56% and a unionist electorate of 44% yet the unionist vote exceeded the nationalist vote and 3 unionists were elected and only 2 nationalists. In my analysis earlier this year of this new council I estimated it would have a nationalist majority in 40 years. Based on the 2014 turnout, I would postpone that date to the next century.
In the Newry-Mourne-Down council the picture is more mixed, with nationalist turnout higher in 4 DEA’s and lower in 2. In the Downpatrick and Newry DEA’s it appears that the unionist electorate has declined below that critical mass required to maintain party structure and turnout.
In North Down-Ards unionist turnout is down sharply from 2011. Nationalist turnout is probably down also but is difficult to quantify.
What would have been the outcome for Westminster and Assembly elections if they had been held the same day? Here are the estimated vote totals and percentages.
|Newry Armagh||Upper Bann||S Down||Strangford||North Down|
In Newry&Armagh there would be no change in either the Assembly or Westminster election. In Upper Bann, the SDLP would retain their Assembly seat on nationalist, Alliance and NI21 transfers. There probably would still be 2 DUP and 2 UUP as the combined TUV, UKIP, and PUP vote is only 8.5%. Since these parties did not compete in Banbridge DEA the true total may be 10% but this would not be enough to threaten the 2nd UUP seat. There would be no change for Westminster. In South Down UKIP could take an Assembly seat from the DUP. UKIP was at 6.5% and the DUP at 8%. However, UKIP did not compete in all the DEA’s nor did the TUV. It is possible that the combined UKIP-TUV vote actually exceeded the DUP vote in the Euro election. Expect Henry Reilly to be a serious contender in the 2016 Stormont election. In Strangford, there would be no nationalist seat as the combined nationalist vote is 2% less than a quota. Alliance should be elected on NI21 and independent unionist transfers. It appears there would be 2 UUP and 3 DUP. The combined UKIP –TUV vote is only half a quota but could threaten the 2nd UUP seat depending on who the independent unionists (7.5%) vote for in an Assembly election. North Down would probably be unchanged with the Green party winning an Assembly seat on SDLP, NI21 and other transfers.