Trying to keep up with the prolific blogging of Sammy Morse isn’t easy. The next on his list is East Antrim, one of the more stable constituencies in this election. No change in the Unionist game here (ie five out of the six seats), though he is surprised that the DUP is not running a forth to put pressure on the UUP. The sixth seat should comfortably belong to former Alliance leader, Sean Neeson – probably one of three of the party’s safest bets in this election. The nationalist vote here is well short of a quota.
The easy question to answer is whether or not the DUP will hold those three seats. The answer is emphatically yes. Sammy Wilson polled 49.6% here in the 2005 Westminster election, while in the local elections held on the same day, the DUP polled 40.0% despite a huge vote for independents. I am somewhat surprised that the DUP aren’t running a fourth candidate here – it would be an unlikely prospect, but they certainly have the votes to make at least a credible attempt at winning four seats. As it is, their sitting tenants – Sammy Wilson, David Hilditch and George Dawson – will be returned easily enough.
That makes things easy for the Ulster Unionists, who have been bumping along around the two quota level anyway. They are pretty much assured two seats here in the absence of serious DUP pressure. Roy Beggs Jr. is certain to re-elected with a very healthy vote. Jordanstown based Ken Robinson has spent two terms in the Assembly, although he never looks that comfortable on polling day. Last time out, party colleague Roy McCune, with his strong RUC contacts, pushed Robinson within 7 votes before being eliminated. Larne Councillor Mark Dunn, who replaces McCune as the third runner this time out, may prove less of a challenge as his geographical base is close to Beggs’ and he polled a fairly anaemic vote in Larne Town in the last council elections.