Election prediction comp: The West Belfast error?

We’re nearly up to fifty entries for the election prediction competition, and there is one common answer that is coming in that suggests to me that many entrants haven’t understood one of the questions.

For this reason, if any of you want to go back in and have another go, we’ll de-duplicate when we’re doing the scoring and remove one older answer from the same e-mail address.

You will have to answer all of the questions again though.

You will recall that it’s a two-part competition. The first part is very straightforward – guess the % share that each party will get from the votes cast along with a guess at the turnout figure.

The second one is where the problem lies. We said….

You have to guess which seat the main parties will enjoy the best / least worst swing since 2005**. In the case of the TUV, it’s just about guessing their best constituency % but if you think that a party will make no improvements, then pick the seat where they will suffer the least damage.

We want you to forecast the best local campaign relative to 2005, see?

Lots of you have said that West Belfast is where Sinn Féin will have their most positive / least negative swing. I suspect this is because some people think we’re asking simply about best performance in terms of % of the total votes cast. We’re not. Of course, if you actually do think that SF will improve on their 70% share in 2005 and enjoy a greater improvement there than anywhere else, then please accept my apologies and leave your previous answers to stand.

(Hint: To see the 2005 vote-shares, the BBC site is as good as any).


  • Mark McGregor

    I’ve missed the updates on how predictions are going both here and over on Strategem. Nicholas Whyte used to provide them and it was fun to see who and how many were predicting what.

  • Giving the averages out too early would spoil it, wouldn’t it?

  • I suspect the West Belfast error will merit an entry just above the West Lothian Question in the ultimo encyclo of politico.

  • Mark McGregor

    Whatever you think. Whyte updated regularly on the old straight forward prediction comp. I thought it worked grand. Not like the wisdom of crowds will realistically give the correct outcome – unless you believe Derren Brown could get the lottery numbers.

  • Mark McGregor

    Adds: I’d actually like to see peoples predictions published unless they made a request for anonymity. The fun aspect of Whyte’s version was seeing how different poltical mindsets were calling it.

  • joeCanuck

    I know it’s off topic but has the good ship The Irish Rover gone down with all hands including ABS O’Toole?
    Since the switchover it takes a minimum of 5 minutes to load a page and last night it took 25 minutes and I never did get to the comment box.

  • jtwo

    Agreed. It feels as though the page weight has increased massively.

  • Mark McGregor

    Sure wtf do you care you only ever logged in to complain.

  • Joe,

    I’ll look into this. The page weight is actually substantially lower than the old site and as far as I know, most users are not having problems with it. I understand from Mick that you’ve had persistent problems.

    Could you email us using this link:


    … whenever you hit a problem – give us the time (ideally in GMT) and give us your location if you can (you’re in Canada, right?).

    I’m wondering if you just have an unresolved DNS issue that’s related to your ISP, and if it will suddenly clear up?

  • Tochais Síoraí

    No Surrender.

    (to the people who can’t be arsed reading the question properly in the first place)