Gamechanging moments: Sinn Fein will top the poll by an Irish mile…

They’ve kept their counsel on the likely result the whole way through campaign, but it looks like McGuinness’s post Massereene statement on dissident Republican paramilitaries bought him a huge chunk of the Nationalist electorate… Nationalist gamechanging moment number 1. The SDLP on the other hand are back on a familiar knife edge: if the numbers from verification move slightly in their favour (DUP down 2, them up 1 is possible given the provisional nature of these early tallies), they could get the break their activists have been working day and night for; or they will get nothing, and must ask themselves how when Nationalism is at it’s height, they get just under half of the political equity. That would be 1999 all over again. After 8 years, Mark Durkan will have questions to answer. That could be Nationalist gamechanging moment number 2. The party bust a gut this election and in places like South Belfast they were well organised and had some inspirational leadership in the constituency from a hard working MP and good organisation. Other areas like Foyle may prove to add that extra point or two that gives Alban his bus ride home. But that gaping void between themselves and Sinn Fein must prompt the biggest question they need to ask themselves. What, in this post agreement days, is the SDLP for?

As for Sinn Fein, this Tweet from Gerry Adams in Dublin says it all:

Eating nuts and raisins in the car. Makes it harder to loudhail, but… Me predicts a good turnout. Gerry Adams

Today’s news may have fortify him against more unwelcome news on Monday in Dublin (Mary Lou is in a fight to the death with FF’s Eoin Ryan, amongst others) and North and West… The good news in the south though will certainly come in South with a good performance from Toireasa Ferris and the chance will soon present itself to blood the capable and personable Senator Pearse Doherty in the by election for Pat the Cope’s seat, if as seems likely, he takes the MEP’s for FF…


  • latcheeco

    If the turnout was poor is the result still a gamechanger?

  • Seymour Major

    I think this is a gamechanging moment but not necessarily what everybody thinks.

    The turnout today was 42.9% – 9% down on 5 years ago. The big question – was the runout dip reflected greater in one community than another. That is a massive drop.

    Before the poll, Liam Clarke Clarke of the Sunday Times speculated that more unionists would be put off voting by the expenses scandal than by Nationalists.

    Remember that surplus Shinner votes will almost certainly go to the SDLP. My gut feeling is that Alban Maginniss is going to get that third seat.

  • me

    Mike were you drunk when you penned that?

  • Qwarty

    The turnout today was 42.9% – 9% down on 5 years ago. The big question – was the runout dip reflected greater in one community than another. That is a massive drop.

    It looks like it may well be, and not the way the media have spinned it thus far.

    for raw turnout figures.

    Here are the drops in turnout by constituency, from 2004 to 2009. I’ve ordered them largest first.

    Newry and Armagh -16.85%
    Fermanagh / South Tyrone -15.23%
    Mid Ulster -12.57%
    West Tyrone -12.07%
    Foyle -12.00%
    West Belfast -10.52%
    North Antrim -10.14%
    East Londonderry -9.14%
    South Down -8.97%
    Upper Bann -8.35%
    North Belfast -7.69%
    Lagan Valley -7.24%
    South Belfast -7.15%
    East Belfast -6.13%
    South Antrim -5.84%
    Strangford -5.69%
    East Antrim -4.83%
    North Down -3.53%

    While not all of them fit the pattern, there IS a clear pattern in those figures to the nationalist unionist split. Just look at them for yourself. It’s there.

  • Big Fergal

    SDLP won’t make it. Not enough 1st prefs.

    Must say – Bairbre de Brun – no big shakes. How could anybody get up any wild enthusiasm for her? Just shows – SF could put up a Vauxhall Nova – would get in.

  • jeep55


    A very interesting analysis. Precisely the seats where Alliance does best are the smallest percentage drops and at a micro level the boxes within those constituencies are showing a similar trend. This is one of the reasons why they will have one of their best Euro results when results are published on Monday. Their transfers will then lead to one of the most interesting finales in what is usually a boring election. My prediction ultimately is no change (1SF, 1DUP, 1UUP/UCUNF) but don’t be surprised if UUP get elected second and DUP third. (BdB, as now expected, will be elected on the first count)

  • Greenflag

    From the BBC – Semi official actual turnout.

    Belfast East: 44.95% Unionist strong majority
    Belfast North: 48.67% Unionist small majority
    Belfast South: 49.25% Unionist /Nationalist 50/50
    Belfast West: 57.12% Nationalist strong majority
    East Antrim: 39.36% Unionist strong majority
    East Londonderry: 51.48% Unionist small majority
    Ferman/S Tyrone: 66.75% Nat strong majority
    Foyle: 56.35% NAt strong majority
    Lagan Valley: 46.10% Unionist strong majority
    Mid Ulster: 65.40% Nat strong majority
    Newry and Armagh: 60.55% Nat strong majority
    North Antrim: 53.31% Unionist strog majority
    North Down: 38.01%% Unionist strong majority
    South Antrim: 43.87% Unionist strong majority
    South Down: 53.94% Nat strong majority
    Strangford: 39.93% Unionist strong majority
    Upper Bann: 50.16% Unionist small majority
    West Tyrone: 62.34% Nat strong majority

    Another way to look at the results . From the above it’s seen that voter turnout was highest in strong nat majority areas (west tyrone , West Belfast, South Down, Fermanagh /Sth Tyrone , Mid Ulster, and weakest in Strangford , North Down , East Antrim . Taking the 6 strongest Nat majority areas I got an aaverage of 60.31 % and for 6 strongest Unionist majority areas I got an average of 42% turnout . I did not include those areas jusdged to be 50/50 or with small majorities either way .

    From the above it’s clear that SF will top the poll . The effect on the Unionist parties is more difficult to see as they have to share (3 to 5? ) ways a smaller turnout on their side of these divided communities whereas the Nat side has just the two . The last seat will be decided imo by the size of the SF surplus which goes to the SDLP and the extent to which the SDLP picks up transfers from AP,and the Greens . It’ll be close between Nicholson and Magennis for the last seat. Should be a nail biter all the way .Dodds despite wishful thinking from TUV and UCUNF should scrape through .

  • I’ve posted figures on another thread that show the drop from 2007 to 2009. Qwarty’s figures show the pattern even more dramatically than those do – certainly, a differential turnout in favour of nationalists. That has been the case since 1996. But it’s a much smaller differential than we’ve become used to.

    My vote will end up transferring to Alban on Monday; this isn’t the result I wanted. But Alban is not going to win a seat. Simple as.

    Remember that surplus Shinner votes will almost certainly go to the SDLP. My gut feeling is that Alban Maginniss is going to get that third seat.

    Having spent the day at the King’s Hall, my gut feeling is de Brún, Dodds, Nicholson.

  • barnshee

    “Having spent the day at the King’s Hall, my gut feeling is de Brún, Dodds, Nicholson”

    Tis is what (privately) the Dupers are hoping for/expecting watch for the tribal chants about splitting the protestant vote ,odium being heaped on allister etc. Vote DUP or else

  • Semi official actual turnout.

    Where are those figures from? The formal, offical, turnout figures were released at 7 pm or so (I was one of the handful still at the King’s Hall to get my neat handout from the Electoral Office) and they are:

    Mid Ulster 52.8% (- 20.3% on 2007; -12.6% on 2004)
    FST 51.5% (-19.7% on 2007; -15.2% on 2004)
    West Tyrone 50.3% (-21.4% on 2007; -12.1% on 2004)
    Newry and Armagh 49.1% (-21.7% on 2007; -16.9% on 2004)
    West Belfast 46.6% (-20.8%, -10.5%)
    South Down 45.0% (-20.0%, -9.0%)
    Foyle 44.3% (-19.6%, 12.0%)
    North Antrim 43.2% (-18.1%, -10.1%)
    East Derry 42.3% (-18.6%, -9.1%)
    South Belfast 42.1% (-20.3%, -7.2%)
    Upper Bann 41.8% (-19.3%, -8.4%)
    Belfast North 41.0% (-19.9%, -7.7%)
    Lagan Valley 38.9% (-21.1%, -7.2%)
    East Belfast 38.8% (-21.2%, -6.1%)
    South Antrim 38.0% (-20.6%, -5.8%)
    North Down 34.5% (-19.3%, -3.5%)
    East Antrim 34.5% (-19.0%, -4.8%)
    Strangford 34.2% (-20.3%, -5.7%)

    The electorate that voted on Thursday was very slightly more Unionist (a point or so) than that which voted in 2007; but enormously more so than that which voted in 2004, which had an enormous differential turnout. Sinn Féin ran a phenomenal campaign in that election – this time they knew the seat was safe, they had other fish to fry in the South, the weather was good…

    People need to remember the difference between relative change and absolute difference. Of course their was absolute differential turnout to nationalism’s benefit – well, like, dur, that’s been the case in every election since 1996. But it was less than previously. Ain’t no seat for Alban, and my transfer and all the good wishes in the world won’t change that.

  • Belfast North: 48.67% Unionist small majority

    51% Un, 45% Nat in 2007.

    Ferman/S Tyrone: 66.75% Nat strong majority

    53% Nat, 46% Un in 2007.

    Upper Bann: 50.16% Unionist small majority

    57% Un, 39% Nat in 2007.

    You are letting bias cloud your judgement.

  • Greenflag, you posted 2004 figures…

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin


    “a much smaller differential than we’ve become used to…”

    This is what I’ve been sensing all day, and something Nats should take account of before going into triumphalist mode… Two way split in nationalism with the SDLP clearly not paying their dues… combined with a slightly scary (for them ‘Horse’ in case you get twitchy ;-)) three way split in Unionism which means Robo has to think things through from first principles all over again… (hint: factor in the absence of the “Big Man” and work it out from there)

  • Nordie Northsider

    Mick wrote: ‘by election for Pat the Cope’s seat, if as seems likely, he takes the MEP’s for FF… ‘

    Interesting stories in the Dublin rumour mill: Cowan furious with Eamon O Cuiv’s point-blank refusal to stand as a candidate in the Euro elections. Will demote O Cuiv from Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs and promote Pat The Cope to that ministry. Paschal Mooney to be seconded as MEP for Connaught/Ulster in place of Pat the Cope – which might explain why Mooney went so quiet after his initial ‘I’ve shafted by Party HQ’ tantrums.

  • No problems with double jobbing then…