Part two of Faha’s analysis for the May elections. For me Upper Bann and North Belfast may provide some of the most interesting counts this time around. BD
This review covers the 5 unionist seats where there is a possibility that the incumbent could lose the election. I will discuss them in the order of likelihood that there could be a change.
This is the election that is receiving the most publicity in Northern Ireland. If it were not for the unionist electoral pact in Belfast East it could be a close election. However, with the DUP-UUP electoral pact and the fact that the TUV, PUP and UKIP have all declined to stand in order to bolster the DUP vote, there is no possibility that Naomi Long can win this election. In the 2014 council elections the DUP vote was 3500 higher than the Alliance vote. All the other unionist parties that will not be standing in this election received 10600 votes. The Alliance party received 6510 votes in 2014. Perhaps Alliance could add another 1000 from NI21 voters and a few Green tactical voters. Perhaps up to 500 tactical nationalist voters. That would bring the Alliance vote up to 8000. Not all of the 5093 UUP voters will vote DUP since some will vote Alliance and some will stay home. The transfer pattern from the 2014 council election indicates that less than 1000 would vote Alliance. Even with this scenario the Alliance vote would not equal the 2014 DUP council vote. That is before even taking into account the over 5000 TUV, UKIP and PUP voters of whom most will vote DUP. Gavin Robinson should win this election.
David Simpson is still likely to win this election but there is a possibility of a UUP upset victory. In the 2014 council elections the total UUP vote was 1479 less than the DUP vote. The TUV, UKIP and the PUP are not standing and those parties received over 3500 votes. However, the transfer pattern reveals that the DUP may be no more likely to receive these votes than the UUP and some of these voters may stay home. Jo-Anne Dobson also stands to receive the majority of the 632 NI21 votes and perhaps a few Alliance votes so her vote total may be less than 1000 behind the DUP. The UUP are aware of how close this election could be and will be putting all their effort in to winning. Theoretically, SF should also be in this competition. However, the SF vote declined by 2700 compared to the 2011 Assembly election while the SDLP vote has remained steady. This indicates a trend of increasing nationalist apathy. With over 60% of potential nationalist voters not even bothering to vote in 2014 it is difficult to imagine what would motivate them to vote in this election. This election is basically a 2 way contest between the UUP and DUP, with the DUP having a slight edge and SF out of the running due to nationalist voter apathy.
This is another seat where the UUP will make a serious effort to defeat the DUP incumbent Willie McCrea. This is a constituency with increasing unionist voter apathy as the DUP vote declined by 3000 in 2014 compared to 2010 and the UUP vote declined by 3700. The Alliance Party also lost 1/3 of their 2011 Assembly vote in 2014. The 2014 vote may not accurately reflect the 2014 results since the TUV did not stand in the Dunsilly and Airport DEA’s. It is unclear who those TUV voters voted for in those DEA’s. The UUP was 1900 votes behind the DUP in 2014 but there were almost 1000 NI21 votes and most of those will go to the UUP. Danny Kinahan could pick up some tactical Alliance votes. Similar to Upper Bann, the UUP have approximately a 1000 voter deficit to overcome.
Many will be surprised that this constituency is considered competitive. However, if you look at the 2014 council election results the UUP vote was only 1400 less than the DUP vote. NI21 received over 800 votes and if the UUP candidate Roy Beggs receives 600 of those the deficit would only be 800 votes. The 2014 council results point to a very close election between the UUP and DUP. This is an election that the UUP should be contesting as seriously as Upper Bann and South Antrim. It is unclear if they are doing so as it appears to be under the radar as to how close this election could be.
You will notice in the demographics that the Catholic and Protestant voting age population are equal in 2015. In normal circumstances this would indicate a very close election between the DUP and SF. The UUP-DUP electoral pact has changed the calculations and there is very low possibility that SF will win this seat. Nigel Dodds is the only unionist candidate. Even the Conservative Party (who are contesting 16 Northern Ireland constituencies) declined to stand a candidate and decided to join the unionist pact along with every other unionist party. The nationalist vote will be divided among SF and the SDLP and the Workers Party and Fra Hughes will siphon away small numbers of nationalist voters. The combined nationalist vote was 15000 in the 2014 council elections and the combined unionist vote was 18600 so it is inconceivable that Nigel Dodds will be defeated in 2015. There is also a large degree of nationalist voter apathy in this constituency. The Conservative Party is supporting the unionist electoral pact in Belfast North and Fermanagh South Tyrone, the only 2 constituencies where they are not standing a candidate. This may have implications for the stability of the Assembly since clearly the Conservatives are not a neutral party and are attempting to defeat SF here and in Fermanagh South Tyrone. SF has already publicly commented on this.