West Tyrone – the Deeny factor

With Kieran Deeny not running the constituency returned the best performances for three parties (in terms of increased percentage):

Pat Doherty (SF) – +9.5%
Thomas Buchanan (DUP) – +2.0%
Ross Hussey (UCUNF) – +7.3%

Even the SDLP managed their 2nd best % improvement here:

Joe Byrne (SDLP) – +4.9%

Anyone care to speculate on what if anything can be deduced about Deeny’s vote from this?

ADDS: I know some will get cross at me doing this (not comparing like with like) but if you translate all those percentage increases into numbers for this election – 1,700, 150, 385, 260 and then add the Alliance and Independent votes – 859 & 508 you get 3,862. Which is pretty close to Deeny’s vote of 3,776 in the last Assembly election.

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  • slug

    Its a cross community one.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m going to claim it was mostly SF drift and unrepresented Alliance with a minor Unionist and SDLP element.

    Sure thats bound to annoy everyone.

  • Was actually thinking about this yesterday myself.

    Think it’s better to look it in terms of actual votes cast. The Deeny vote was always going to go everywhere. So when you look at the votes picked up from the parties (apart from DUP who lost 377), you get:

    Sinn Fein: + 1140
    UUP/UCUNF: + 2300
    SDLP: + 1264
    Plus the two new candidates:
    AP: + 859
    C McClean: + 508

    That totals: 6071.

    Deeny’s vote in 2005 however was 11,905, around a difference of 5,800. That is assuming of course that all the gains were from previous voters. Once you take in the ‘first time voter factor’ which Sinn Fein took plenty of, plus the fact that DUP lost 377, which you could speculate went to UCUNF. That leaves potentially a figure over 6,000 and even closer to 7,000 that didn’t come out this time.

    What we could deduce then is that a lot of the cross-community vote that Deeny galvanized for the hospital campaign didn’t come out this time, possibly in the region of 6-7,000. Which may also include a number of disgruntled former SF voters.
    Interesting when you consider the drop in turnout in West Tyrone was around 6,000.

    (I haven’t included spoiled votes in the data)
    Apologies for errors. Please correct where appropriate.

  • Mark McGregor

    Cheers, AD. Yours is a lot better then mine but his vote has clearly been a factor in three parties having their best percentage increase in one constituency. So there is something there to speculate on.

  • Cake

    Many Alliance supporterswho had campaigned for Deeney in previous elections were a bit disappointed that Deeney himself didn’t publicly back Bower. A step forward for bigotted politics in West Tyrone. Would be ironic if previously Deeny voters, voting on a hospital issue, then voted for SF who closed the hospital in omagh.

  • Lionel Hutz


    While I’m not criticizing you’re analysis, there is another intangible left out. The turnout was down, significantly.

    If that hit every party equally, yet their vote went up, surely a more sizable amount of deeny’s vote still voted.

    I would guess that last time out, Deeny’s vote was mostly unionist perhaps in the belief that he was the only man who could beat Doherty?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Actually, scratch that. I am completely wrong.

    Looking at the successive election results, it would appear that about 10 of Deeny’s 27% at most is unionist. 17% is Nationalist atleast.

    One of the more interesting aspects of that result is that turnout has gone down 20% in the last 9 years with a 10% drop this year.

    My hunch would be that this affects DUP, UUP and SDLP more than Sf. As the former parties have no chance of winning, there is little point. Although Sinn Fein voters may be complacent, Doherty ran a relatively high profile campaign and SF don’t do complacency.

    SF vote went up in numbers not just percentages which must be a sign of a gradual and continuing bleeding from SDLP. However, on this result SDLP still stand to gain Deeny’s Assemblt seat and if they start to run a decent campaign, they could make that very comfortable.

  • Lionel Hutz

    One final point I would make is that a significant number of the SDLP vote must not be coming out.

    The unionist parties have a greater percentage share of the vote than than their population should give them.34% instead of 31%.

    This means that proprtionally, there are 2,000 or 3,000 nationalist votes not coming out. Of course that could go to sinn fein but considering their vote is not experiencing a drop, it’s safer to assume that this is mostly SDLP

  • joeCanuck

    “I would guess that last time out, Deeny’s vote was mostly unionist perhaps in the belief that he was the only man who could beat Doherty?”

    Don’t think so, Lionel. I think it was cross community support to try to prevent downgrading of the Omagh hospital.

  • Equation for you all:

    Subtract the number of gains by parties in WT 2010 (6070) from the Deeny vote in 2005 (11905) = 5835
    Add to this the drop in DUP vote (377)
    Equals 6212

    What is the drop in West Tyrone vote since the last general election:
    2005 turnout (43487) – 2010 turnout (37275) = 6212


    Don’t ruin it by talk of 1st time voters….

  • Lionel Hutz

    You’re right, I was completely wrong

  • Lionel Hutz

    That’s a stunning coincidence, but it is still a coincidence.

    The most amazing narrative that I am surprised to find is not really being discussed on Slugger is that it is Nationalist constituencies that have seen the big decline in turnout. Most are nearly twice the average decline. I’m not knowledgable enough to know what this means in future elections but I believe that soft Nationalists are not voting. However the nationalist percentage of the overall vote is not slipping, so unionists in these areas must also be disaffected.

    Could there be a few surprises in next years assembly elections

  • I think the fact that in 2001 and 2005, local government elections were held alongside the general election should not be ignored.

    Also part of the ‘normalisation’ of politics is the increase in voter apathy.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “The most amazing narrative that I am surprised to find is not really being discussed on Slugger is that it is Nationalist constituencies that have seen the big decline in turnout”

    I have raised this issue a couple of times. Malcolm Redfellah seemed to suggest that because the Nat. turnout was still higher than the Unionist turnout then it was not such an issue.

    What appears to have happened is that less Nats voted (compared to Unionists) but this was partially offset by the growth in the number of Nat voters. The exception to this was NB where the turnout was good and Nat % went up.

    But until someone analyses the differential turnout between Fenains and Prods and compares it to 2005 we will be none the wiser.

  • milo

    Many voters in West Tyrone also buy the Fermanagh or Dungannon papers, send their kids to school in Enniskillen / Dungannon and do their shopping there.
    The fall-out from the tribal headcount in Fermanagh South Tyrone seeped across the electoral boundary to West Tyrone, Dromore, Fintona, Trillick, Drumquin, Beragh, Pomeroy etc and simply scared floating and non-aligned middle-of-the-road voters.
    Doherty lost support in hardline areas such as Carrickmore, Greencastle and Strabane as the tallys proved.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “Doherty lost support in hardline areas such as Carrickmore, Greencastle and Strabane as the tallys proved.”

    It this purely anecdotal or are there actual facts and figures somewhere?

  • Where do the tallys prove Doherty lost ‘hardline’ support in those areas? I’d like to see them out of interest.

    Sinn Fein picked up an extra 1,140 votes in 2010 in West Tyrone. That means if they lost some traditional voters, they still attracted a couple of thousand new voters to the party.

    I would argue these are mostly new voters, as SDLP’s poor campaign would have attracted few first timers. If anything, the ‘middle of the road’ voters didn’t some out.

    By the way… Pomeroy is in Mid Ulster.

  • Lionel Hutz

    That would be anecdotal but I would have to agree that Sinn Fein supporters and nationalists as a whole in those Sinn Fein seats seemed to have more of an on Michelle’s struggle than Pat, Martin or Conor. I think it did harden Sinn Fein support which could go a long way to explaining why the SF vote did not drop significantly in those areas.

    However, it still does appear to me that Unionist parties attracted a greater percentage of the vote than their community proportionally should have. I do believe that middle of the road nationalists and perhaps some disaffected hardliners just didn’t turn up this time round. As regards the former group, it remains to be seen whether that moderate group were only staying at home because the SDLP had no chance and that they will come out next year or whether they permanently lost with some further drift to Sinn Fein.

    Experience would suggest that whilst SDLP have stopped the haemorraging, they always have difficulty in re-energising lost voters