If you have not read yesterday’s article you might find it helpful to read the note on the method I used in making the projections in these articles. You will find it at the bottom, in italics.
A glance at the record for designation shares in East Antrim shows the size of the changes that have been taking place recently in electoral fortunes. A slow decline in unionists has accelerated, while nationalist parties, which had been maintaining a steady share, dropped noticeably in the 2019 Council elections. Others are picking up from both.
What is not so obvious is that even in this constituency where the result of a Westminster election has never been in doubt, there was still a considerable level of tactical voting, which can be seen in the party shares.
As well as benefiting from the absence of the TUV in both 2017 and 2019, the DUP has obviously been the recipient of tactical votes from the UUP. But look how dramatic was the drop for the DUP in those two years. Although many UUP voters appear to have still voted tactically, it appears that a significant proportion may well have decided to go with Alliance for a change. This could have important implications for transfer patterns in the election.
No other candidates are standing.
My Central projection gives 5 Safe seats: 2 Alliance, 1 DUP, 1 UUP and 1 TUV. One of my other projections agrees with this.
The other makes only 1 Alliance, 1 DUP and 1 UUP Safe. Of the remaining two seats, one would be between the DUP with a Good possibility for a second seat, and the TUV with a Smaller possibility. The other would be between SF with a Good possibility and Alliance with a Lesser possibility of a second seat.
NOTE ON METHOD:
There is no perfect way to translate a national poll to a local constituency level. Still less so in a PR system. We must recognise a level of uncertainty. I have used the last Lucid Talk poll as my base because, as well as giving party shares, it also tracks how the voters for each party at the last Assembly election intend to vote this time. This allowed me to make two projections for each constituency, one based on vote switching since 2017, the other on changes in party vote shares since the 2019 Local Government elections. (I used the LG elections due to widespread tactical voting at the later Westminster.)
The two different projections mimic two different patterns of changes in party support. In one, a party that is growing strongly will see a bit less of that growth where it is already strong, and a bit more where it was previously at it most weak. Conversely the parties that have lost voters will suffer a bit more in their strongest constituencies.
The other projection has the opposite effect. Either may prove to be a more accurate reflection of reality. And while the differences between the two are not massive (they both must total to the same poll shares across all constituencies) they can still sometimes produce different outcomes.
I should stress that while the Lucid Talk bears the responsibility for the original poll, the projections are entirely my responsibility.
For each 1st preference projection, I have used recent transfer patterns to identify all candidates who have any chance of winning on a scale ranging from Safe to Long Shot.
To avoid burdening you with all this detail I have averaged the results of the two projections and shown them as a Central projection, merely noting where one of the other projections produces a noteworthy difference.
Where a party is running more than one candidate, I have generally split the party vote between them in the same proportions at the last election. I have had to make my own assumptions when a party has a different number of candidates this time.
Michael Hehir is a retired sales and marketing manager. He studied in Northern Ireland but now lives between England and Italy.