The power of numbers 6: Battleground West of the Bann

If it is still worth thinking about it, here is the last in the series of constituency profiles. The five constituencies West of the Bann – Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Mid-Ulster, West Tyrone, Foyle and East Londonderry seem to be pretty straightforward. The numbers say that the questions are what will Deeny do in West Tyrone and will the DUP take a third in East Londonderry?In Foyle, Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and South Tyrone the Westminster and Local Government results predict no change in the present seat distributions.

In West Tyrone the three questions are will Deeny run, will his vote hold and if it does at whose expense will his seat be? The last time it was at SF’s the SDLP’s expense and prevented SF from taking a 3rd seat. The Westminster result gives SF 3 full quotas, Deeney almost 2 full quotas with both the SDLP and UUP under quota so they should be nervous. Local Government results show the UUP more vulnerable that the SDLP. In East Londonderry Westminster has the DUP taking one off the UUP but Local Government has the UUP holding on. For what it is worth, the Portrush by-election shows no real shifts between the two Unionist parties.

Over the week-end I will hit the figures again, applying the last public opinion poll available, the Hearts and Minds poll, both in total party support and also try and offer answers on what will happen if unhappy SF and DUP voters sit at home or vote for anti-St Andrew candidates.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Seats were assigned to parties strictly on the basis of who was closest to a quota. No assignment was made on the basis of possible/likely transfers nor has any projection of existing trends been extrapolated (ie DUP vote grew X% between 2003 and 2005 but if that continues their likely vote be). Westminster results tend to show a party’s maximum potential vote in a constituency while Local Government shows the core vote. When the two agree it seems the highly likely result and were they disagree it highlights were a party should target a constituency for extra effort. In individual constituencies the perceived geographcal base and number of candidates a party chooses and the vote management system adopted can have an effect on the final result. Examples of how this can impact are – the choice of two Ballymena UUP candidates in North contributed to their loss of a seat, vote mismanagement in West and East Belfast cost SF and the DUP a seat respectively. It is possible to confound both indicators as David Ford did in South Antrim in 2003.