#AE16 North Antrim: DUP to comfortably retain the whip hand…

Candidates: [DUP] Paul Frew, Phillip Logan, David McIlveen, Mervyn Storey; [UUP] Robin Swann, Andrew Wright; [TUV] Jim Allister, Timothy Gaston; [SF]Daithí McKay; [UKIP] Donna Anderson; [SDLP] Connor Duncan; [Alliance] Stephen McFarland; [Greens] Jennifer Breslin; [NI Conservative] James Simpson; [LRC] Kathryn Johnston.
Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise

North Antrim consists of some of the most stunning coastal scenery in Ireland, taking in the Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballycastle and the Glens of Antrim. The bulk of the population though is in the larger towns of Ballymoney and Ballymena.

With a traditionally large farming base and larger industrial employers in Ballymena educational achievement here is relatively low at all levels. After boundary changes before 2011, it became 2.7% less Catholic, and 2.6% more Protestant making a second nationalist unviable.

For the first time Jim Allister has a TUV running mate, Cllr Timothy Gaston. According to Nicholas Whyte’s projections, the TUV took 16% (a healthy 6694 votes) of the last election. It makes sense to blood the young councillor even though Allister looks for a quota, but there’s no space for a second.

The big local ‘firm’ here is the DUP. Paul Frew topped the poll here last time, with the better known Mervyn Storey coming in shortly afterwards. If the council election pattern holds for them there could be a tough fight with the UUP to retain their third seat.

They are sticking with the same policy of running four candidates as they did last time. That may give them important elimination options when it gets to the bottom of the count, but it could be tight.

The other two certainities for a seat is Daithí McKay for Sinn Fein who has safely captured the Nationalist quota here, and Robin Swann of the UUP. Swann might have been hopeful of a second for his running mate Andrew Wright after taking 23% in the 2014 locals.

The DUP’s strong showing in last year’s Westminster election showed something of a return to dominance. With Allister taking the second non DUP, a fourth is not likely. Ministerial profile for Storey and Frew’s high profile on the Agriculture committee should bring them home top.

The question is whether the third seat goes to David McIlveen, or new boy Phillip Logan.

Prediction: DUP 3, Sinn Fein 1, UUP 1, TUV 1.

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  • Msiegnaro

    Jim Allister had a running mate in 2011 too – Audrey Patterson.

    As for him not returning his running mate this time I’m not convinced. Allister has been the top performing MLA over the past five years while the impact of every other MLA within this contingency has been either invisible or minimal. Allister could well get his reward this time around with a second TUV seat.

  • the keep

    The TUV might have had a chance if they had a decided to spilt up the constituency properly they didn’t so they wont.
    The UUP had no chance of getting a second seat especially when they ran a second Ballymena candidate and gave him virtually nowhere to canvas essentially the same as the TUV.
    I think Logan might just beat Mcilveen in the Dup race.
    I think SF might just surprise some people and top the poll although in essence that means very little.

  • Msiegnaro

    I’m quite amazed by this constituency. Mervyn Storey is one of the weakest DUP MLAs yet he is expected to sail home and perhaps even top the poll?

  • the keep

    He has the whole of Ballymoney to himself which helps considerably and he is popular.

  • Toaster

    Would expect the dedication and exemplary hard work of Daithi Mckay to pay off with a substantial vote which tops the poll. The first class constituency service offered by Sinn Fein will probably pull out extra voters who usually don’t turn out, which when coupled with demographic change ought to be enough to pull the Sdlp over the line as well, mos likely from Jim Allister.

  • Msiegnaro

    A TUV loss and SDLP gain?

  • Toaster

    Jim Allister only scraped the last seat in 2011. His dinosaur based bigoted rhetoric will be even less relevant with each passing day, and given that it’s an indisputable fact that as time goes on, all areas become more Catholic, then it’s a pretty solid bet.

  • Ryan A

    Caleb foundation … Lots of votes.

  • chrisjones2

    He was elected with 2 candidates behind him. Your post is nonsense I am afraid

  • chrisjones2

    Look this constituency exposes the whole problem, with our system,. You can get elected with 2000 first preference votes. That around 4 lodges with their members and followers and promotes a race to the bottom

  • chrisjones2

    ..from all those dinosaurs …which must be both annoying and gratifying

  • Declan Doyle

    There is only one nationalist seat in North Antrim at the moment. With the current boundaries it will be at least 10 years before demographic changes open up the possibility for a second one. With an energised UUP and A TUV sweeper on the ballot, its quite possible the DUP might end up wit just two seats rather than three.

  • Declan Doyle

    The nonsense is actually coming from you. He was elected on the ninth count without reaching the quota !!

  • Gingray

    Ha ha ha, Chris, come on at least get your facts right! You are posting nonsense (will you hold your hand up and admit it tho?)

    He was elected on the last stage (9th) with the 6th highest number of vote (5429). The quota was 5760.

    The SDLP candidate came in 7th place, finishing with 4816 votes.

    So at the very least, if the SDLP somehow found 614 additional votes, equivalent to a 3% increase, then they would have won the seat.

    Personally I think its unlikely, but nonsense is untrue.

  • Granni Trixie

    Even I have been impressed by him since he became a Minister – he looks like he wants to do the job well. Prior to that he seemed like yer usual Backward DUpite.

  • Johnny Magnum

    No big change in the equivalent of America’s Deep South. Allister’s uncompromising stance appeals to the voters around Ballymena, Ballymoney and Bushmills. The good ol boys always vote in North Antrim.

  • Msiegnaro

    He is effective as well, even his enemies conceded this point.

  • the keep

    At least none of the candidates are convicts.

  • the keep

    He is a nice fella works hard.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Not quite all areas: West Belfast has become less Catholic.

  • Chingford Man

    You’re too busy Counting the Catholics to remove your green-tinted specs. How many times does it have to be explained to you and your ilk – demographic change doesn’t automatically translate into votes.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Allister tops the polls.

  • mickfealty

    Check out the 2014 council elections. Jim is home and hosed.

  • Johnny Magnum

    I know. I’m sure Daithi McKay and Connor Duncan are fine upstanding citizens. Do the boys up there still play banjos on their porches, barefooted and chewing grass?

  • Johnny Magnum

    No offence but Chingford may as well as be a different planet from the rural backwater that is North Antrim. Racism, sectarianism and homophobia are the order of the day.

  • Nevin

    Surely you’ve heard of the North Antrim fiddlers!

  • Nevin

    What a load of aul blether, JM!

    There was cross-community and cross-party support for the #SaveTheDal campaign; you might or might not recognise some of the political figures in the photos.

    “If a future is to be moulded that meets the needs of all interests, it has to be done in partnership.”, said the MLA who shared a platform with Daithí McKay; yes, you’ve guessed it, Jim Allister.

  • Johnny Magnum

    Well campaigning to save a hospital hardly gets to the root cause of sectarianism does it?

  • Nevin

    JM, I think you’re on the wrong thread.

  • Gingray

    Chris, you are commenting on other threads, why are you not standing over your claim that Jim finished ahead of two candidates?

  • Paddy Reilly

    Objectively, counting Catholics is a pretty weird thing to do, indeed unknown anywhere else in the world, but the Northern Ireland statelet was set up by calculating the maximum level of Catholic toxicity Unionists could tolerate, so it remains a necessity when calculating the possibility of change.

    In Stormont elections two quotas is 28.57%.

    In 2011 Catholics were, by virtue of boundary changes, reduced from 31.09% to 28.39% of the population, and the SDLP lost the second Nationalist seat by 613 votes, less than 1%.

    Unionists at that time saw the minor boundary change as an opportunity to increase the number of their seats, and they took it.

    Demographic loss obviously translates into less votes: so it is not unreasonable to think that demographic growth may translate into more.

    Thus it follows that Nationalist and SDLP voters would look to see if there has been any minor growth in the Catholic population of North Antrim over the last five years, and this might inspire them to imagine that the SDLP seat is recoverable.

    I expect there has: the above figures show that in North Antrim Nationalist voting, at least in its 2nd and subsequent preferences, is very, very close to Catholic census entries. So turnout will be very important: you will make no gains if you don’t try. Unionists have been a little prodigal in the number of candidates they have put forward (10 for a maximum of 5 seats): they will need very, very good transferring. SF and SDLP with one candidate apiece are more realistic.

  • On the fence!

    Well if that perception keeps one-eyed muppets like you away from us then so much the better!

  • Johnny Magnum

    My sincere apologies for upsetting your sensibilities.. Tell me any of those damn fenians ever move back in to Ahoghill?Will the boys be throwing a big welcome home bash for Michael McIlveen’s killers when they get out?

  • Gopher

    The change from 2011 is simply in 2011 people were prepared to give the Assembly a fair wind and Allister was seen a drag to progress. Those conditions no longer exist in 2016. I expect Allister to make quota. The only other two points interest in this seat is how the Greens and Labour fair and how close Alliance can get to a quota at their point of elimination

  • the keep

    The only other two points interest in this seat is how the Greens and Labour fair and how close Alliance can get to a quota at their point of elimination
    I fully agree I think there is a mood for change in North Antrim especially after the big job losses.

  • the keep

    At least they work unlike their counterparts in West Belfast.

  • Ryan A

    SDLP collapsing to 7% in the most recent election says otherwise, although I’d think that’s a rock bottom number.

  • Paddy Reilly

    That is true: but the 2015 General Election result was a FPTP affair where all parties apart from DUP were bound to lose. In a PR election with 6 seats on offer, SDLP voters will have more incentive to turn out and the SDLP will probably receive the bulk of Alliance transfers.

  • Msiegnaro

    Interesting different perspective Keep and Granni – thank you.

  • Nevin

    Try accentuating the positive rather than the negative, JM. Our political and religious sects have their devotees so a change of stance requires something more appealing.

  • Nevin

    Ann Travers was even more effective. Her courage and tenacity caused the SDLP to back down.

  • Gopher

    The sub text across this election in all constituencies is can Alliance close the gap on the SDLP in a Westminster election. North Antrim, Upper Bann, North Belfast and East Londonderry will be the areas Alliance is hoping to be a viable alternative to voting SDLP ie capable of actually winning. Big election for the Greens and this new Labour project and the point of interest here is not just numbers but the path of transfer. If Alliance and these other parties are the majority first port for transfers from across the sub party spectrum the SDLP are in deep trouble.

  • On the fence!

    Not so sure about that, the Paisley/DUP tradition is still deeply embedded. Many people will still just go to their polling station and tick the DUP boxes sometimes without even knowing the candidates or anything about them. It’ll probably fade a bit in time, but it will take a long time. Too long for Jim Allister to ever be much other than a one man party I tend to think, even if he is a very effective one.

  • On the fence!

    Exactly! Murdering, knee-capping, petrol-bombing and intimidating the “other side” is generally much more effective.

    Seems to be how city folks do it anyway.

    Us banjo playing grass chewers really need to catch up!

  • Johnny Magnum

    Have you actually the ability to answer the questions in my post? Or do you prefer to go off on a random tangent when you can’t make a valid argument?

  • On the fence!

    Your “questions” look pretty much like rhetorical ones to me.

    You do know what a rhetorical question is???????

  • Ryan A

    Looking at the numbers in recent elections I’m starting to wonder if Alliance is where the SDLP first preference vote is draining to.
    I’d like to see the SDLP focus on other target seats. If they believe the pace of demographic change will deliver it seems to be faster in Suburban seats around the commuter belt – North Lisburn, the raft of wards along the M1/A1 through Lagan Valley & Upper Bann, Mallusk, Glengormley etc. Much more likely to make tangible gains in these areas where there is a lot more disruption with housing developments now with a narrow focus before boundaries get thrown up again. A reduction in seats makes incumbency vital.

  • Johnny Magnum

    Do you condemn the savage sectarian thuggery in North Antrim which resulted in Catholics being evicted in Ahoghill and Michael McIlveen being killed?

  • On the fence!

    Of-course I do, what decent person wouldn’t condemn sectarian thuggery wherever it happened?

    Anyway, what on earth has that to do with your one-eyed, utterly bigoted comments regarding the electorate of North Antrim?

  • Jimbob7810

    Not a chance.

  • Jimbob7810

    Of all places West Belfast??

  • Jimbob7810

    Don’t forget Cullybackey, we love him here too!

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