What now for the SDLP?

It should have been different. The party had been doing so many of the right things. It had put the years of destructive dissension over leadership under Ritchie and McDonnell firmly behind it. It had recruited and groomed a new generation of talented public representatives. It had professionalised its organisation. It had been rewarded with a modest improvement in its 2019 Euro election vote – which held out the promise that the party could put an end to the previous …

Read more…

West Tyrone Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. Unionist vote share has slipped in West Tyrone from a consistent 33% or 34% in all elections up to and including 2017. Since then, it has not gone above 32% and hit 29% at the last Westminster election. Nationalist performance has been a little more uneven over the period, with no discernible trend. While Others bumped along the bottom of the chart, …

Read more…

Uncertainty increased: the latest Irish News poll…

black and white printed textile

There is a golden rule in reporting opinion polls: the more dramatic the poll result, the more cautiously it should be interpreted. The front-page headline of today’s Irish News, “Alliance and DUP neck and neck”, leaves little doubt that the latest Liverpool University poll is dramatic. SF 26.6% DUP and Alliance 18.2% each UUP 12.1% SDLP 10.5% TUV 5.7% Green 2.7% PBP 2.1% Others 3.9% The margin for error is 3.1% It is more productive to compare the changes between …

Read more…

Upper Bann Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

This fairy tree always catches my eye on the A1 heading southbound between Loughbrickland and Sheepsbridge.

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. In Upper Bann, both unionist and nationalist shares have bobbed gently up and down by small amounts for most of the decade. Unionists have been on a bit of a downward slope since 2017, but two elections in the same year do not make a long-term trend. Nationalists, too, dropped at the last Westminster election, but only to a level they had …

Read more…

Strangford Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

The wee town of Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula at Strangford Lough, taken from Castle Ward (July, 2019).

I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. Once you strip out the effects of tactical voting at the Westminster elections, the underlying trend in unionist share in Strangford was slightly upwards in the first half of the decade, but it has taken a decided downturn since. Meanwhile, nationalists have, on the whole, held steady. The marked increase in others only got going in 2017. The party shares show just …

Read more…

South Down Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

gray blocks

Note that I have used the most recent Lucid Talk poll for my projection of party shares in the constituency. The tactical voting by some unionists and others for the SDLP in South Down, which boosted the nationalist share at Westminster elections, appears to have disappeared by 2019. South Down is another one of those places where candidates from outside of the constituency’s main parties sometimes win significant numbers of votes. In the 2019 Local Government elections, these would have …

Read more…

Hopes, dreams and nightmares: What the new Lucid Talk poll means for each party…

Believe in Yourself

The last Lucid Talk poll before the election appears in today’s Belfast Telegraph. It was conducted between Friday 22nd and Sunday 24th April. This means that some of the contributors will have been declaring their choice almost two weeks before the election itself. That’s only about halfway through the formal campaign. It’s important to remember that much can change before an election in that time frame. Historically many people only finally decide how they will vote in the last few …

Read more…

South Antrim Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

antrim castle gardens, hedge, pond

Yet again we see the pattern, familiar in so many constituencies, of the dramatic but temporary effects of Westminster tactical voting. Unusually, as can be seen in the main party chart below, both the DUP and the UUP benefit from this, and it is possibly one of the factors which led the UUP to run a second candidate for the Assembly. Alliance may also have derived some benefit from tactical voting, although it is obvious it lost the battle with …

Read more…

North Down Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Looking out over a calm Irish Sea from Helen's Bay (Jun., 2013).

The obvious tactical voting for Independent Unionist Lady Hermon in North Down Westminster elections cannot hide the strong decline in Unionist vote share over the last decade. In the 2011 elections, unionist votes were worth 4.1 and 4.2 quotas. Eight years later that had dropped to 3.4 and 3.3. If they can hold on to that next month it should guarantee them 3 seats, but the leakage of transfers from UUP and Conservatives could leave them closer to the tipping …

Read more…

North Antrim Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Looking out over The North Coast and the Glens of Antrim toward Ballycastle from Fair Head (Jun., 2020).

The last decade was one of the steady declines of the Unionist and Nationalist designations and of slow but accelerating growth in Others. There were no signs of tactical voting by Nationalists or Others, but the withdrawal from the contest of the TUV means that the Westminster result tells us nothing about the relative strengths of the Unionist parties. The vote in the Westminster election would have given 3 Safe unionist seats plus 1 Safe Alliance and a Good possibility …

Read more…

Mid Ulster Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

church of ireland, ballyclog, scenery

Not much seems to disturb the placid pattern of Mid Ulster voting patterns, until that curious little uptick in Others at the last election. The level of party support does give us a little more to get our teeth into. In 2013 all the unionist parties decided to pool their resources behind a single Independent Unionist candidate for a Westminster by-election. I believe the idea originated with the UUP. Anyway, it proved not to be such a great wheeze in …

Read more…

Newry and Armagh Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

argory, armagh, irish

There has been little change in the designation splits in Newry and Armagh over the years, until 2019. Then an uptick in the Alliance vote, similar to that in Mid Ulster, occurred. This appeared to be at the expense of both unionists and nationalists. The marked level of tactical voting within unionism at Westminster elections since 2015 can be clearly seen. In 2015 the DUP withdrew as part of a UUP/DUP pact, but since then it has been the DUP …

Read more…

Lagan Valley Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

We can see that the pattern of tactical voting in Lagan Valley at Westminster elections has changed since 2017. The party figures reveal that while some UUP voters still vote tactically, it is as likely that they will do so for Alliance as for the DUP. This is maybe not surprising in a constituency where the UUP only transferred at 40% to the DUP in 2017. Westminster ’19 was also notably the poorest performance by Jeffrey Donaldson in the four …

Read more…

Fermanagh and South Tyrone Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

The snow-capped Cuilcagh Mountains seen from Belle Isle Estate in County Fermanagh after a late winter/early spring storm.

After the complexities of East Londonderry, and before embarking on the equally problematic Foyle, it is a relief to address the relative simplicities of FST. On the face of it, we have the re-establishment of a significant nationalist lead over unionist parties after a brief moment of parity in 2016, with an almost imperceptibly slow, but now undeniable, growth in the other’s share. It takes a moment to reconcile this tranquil picture with the performance of the main parties in …

Read more…

Foyle Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Looking across the River Foyle to the cityside from the waterside, with The Peace Bridge framed by The Guild Hall (left) and St. Eugene's Cathedral (right) (May, 2021).

I’ve just finished reading the entrails in Foyle, and my brain hurts. Quite frankly I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading right now and just left it to the Almighty in his ineffable wisdom to reveal the final results sometime on May 7th. To those of you who refuse to heed the warnings, I salute your courage. We start with the designation shares bearing the, by now familiar, marks of tactical voting in Westminster. And as usual, these marks …

Read more…

East Londonderry Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

This chart clearly shows a shift from unionists to others over the last two elections in East Londonderry. But the shifts at the party level have been even more dramatic: The DUP benefit substantially from tactical votes in Westminster elections, even though there is no doubt that they will win. SF has been on a sharp downward slope since 2017, to the obvious benefit of the SDLP which even finished a whisker above them. The long-term slow decline of the …

Read more…

East Antrim Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

Carrickfergus Castle in County Antrim at sunset (Jan., 2021).

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, …

Read more…

South Belfast Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

The greenhouse, adorned with a floral display, at the Botanic Gardens in the Queen's Quarter of Belfast, County Antrim (Sep., 2021).

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. The contest in South Belfast really repays looking back at recent history. Note the persistent pattern of tactical voting at each Westminster election, and the just as persistent return to non-Westminster voting patterns afterwards. The picture is even more vivid when you examine …

Read more…

West Belfast Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

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. The marked relative decline in the nationalist vote share in West Belfast is a direct reflection of the growth in the People Before Profit vote at the 2016 Assembly election, after which the party designated as Other. The main point to note here, …

Read more…

Data background to the Assembly contests in East and North Belfast…

democrats, america, vote

With the Assembly election fast approaching I have compiled an overview of some of the constituencies and hope to complete more in the time available. It is many years since there was so much uncertainty about the outcome of the election. Usually, it is possible to be confident of the results for at least four seats out of the five in each constituency. This time it is more often three. Each profile outlines the historical voting patterns in the constituency …

Read more…