Any graphic trends?

Stats came from Ark and were slightly out for SF in 2007, it doesn’t affect the trends but corrected version can be seen here.

It can be difficult to spot all the trends that may occur in our election results with random factors of personalities in Europe, come and go minor Unionist parties, independents and small parties. I have tried to simplify matters a little by taking results from 1996 on, removing European results, smaller parties and Independents to produce the above graph of  party percentage of the vote for the top five over the last 15 years. Of course it is going to miss some major factors in play but you can’t have everything with simplicity.

Adds: Was requested to add other parties (all those getting over 1% on the below graph)


Adds Further: made a small error, so graphs above updated. Also adding graphs to include Euros below (I added Gilliland’s vote as Alliance in Euros) – starts to get confused but done for completeness. *

*Graphs with Euro results confused matters so were removed – should be part of a further entry on this.
A quick translation of the graphs to sectarian basics:

,

  • It’s interesting how the SDLP and UUP are effectively tracking each other in recent years, isn’t it? It suggests that the issue of ‘leadership’ isn’t as big a one as you’d think. Durkan, Ritchie and Empey may *look* like they’re struggling to find the right note, but it may be that the whole game is out of their hands and the determining factor is the DUP/SF strength.

    It reminds me of what some economists say about fund managers – you’re better off with tracker funds than with some ‘expert’ who claims that they can pull a bundle together more effecively. Think of political parties as a bundle of competing interests (and wait for your head to explode as the metaphor extends to breaking point…)

    One question at first glance: Where did those DUP votes go since 2005 – all to the TUV?

  • Mark McGregor

    Paul,

    Some of the DUP percentage will have also gone to the 2 Independent Unionists and the UUP – helping disguise the UUPs loses to the Independents. And the old UKUP will have gone towards the TUV vote. A complex redistribution going on I think.

  • Fearglic

    I think SF are grabbing more middle class nationalists votes yet losing working class votes the latter arnt voting prefering to disenfranchise themselves. I wonder are unionist working class refusing to vote as well or maybe just giving up in apathy?

  • Mark McGregor

    Also seems despite the success in East Belfast for APNI they have a longterm flatline trend and the last result doesn’t indicate any growth.

  • Alias

    It’s interesting that the UUP didn’t gain from the fall in support for the DUP (from its peak). What happened there?

  • Drumlin Rock

    add the TUV & Ind U and you roughly get most of it, interestingly the TUV roughly takes a similar vote to UKUP, and possibly most fasinating, for the past dozen or yrs the UUP peaks are matched by Alliance troughs.

  • Drumlin Rock

    They have also now lost their biggest hitter to Westminister( I persume she wont double job), Parsley has jumped ship and P&J could be a poisoned chalice, so dont count on their vote or seats going up next year.

  • Jean Meslier

    “..I think SF are grabbing more middle class nationalists votes yet losing working class votes..”

    There is no evidence to suggest SF are losing working class votes.

    What is important is the young and first time voters. From a nationalist perspective the vast majority of these are going to Sinn Fein.

    The twin approach of vitriolic attacks on Gerry Adams from media hacks and SDLP saying abstentionism means non-representation have failed miserably.

  • bulmer

    Can these be adjusted to reflect the % voting? How does turnout track against these figures? Simply adding % and saying there’s your missing voters doesn’t really cut it when a large % are sitting at home..

  • Co. Down man

    SF aren’t losing working class votes.

  • slug

    Suggests UUP vote didn’t change one way or other at this election – despite withdrawing from FST and losing an MP.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The boul horseman does a good line in graphs – sometimes the jostling by the parties within their ‘community backgrtound’ obscures what is going on and after all there is little actual political difference between SF/SDLP and DUP/UUP – but Unionism and Nationalism are not just heading for parity of esteem but numerical parity.

    http://ulstersdoomed.blogspot.com/2010/05/going-going.html

    The picture is even more stark when the you look at the graphs for South and North Belfast.

    http://ulstersdoomed.blogspot.com/2010/05/greening-of-south-belfast.html

    http://ulstersdoomed.blogspot.com/2010/05/north-belfast-in-sinn-feins-sights.html

  • Greenflag

    I suspect turnout percentages haven’t changed all that much on average across NI during that period although there would have been significant turnout differentials as between the east and west /south west of the province .

    What sticks out for me is the relentless increase in the SF vote and the long decline in the SDLP with the DUP maxing out at about 33% in 2005 before declining to just 25% last week . The steep drop in UUP support from 33% in 1997 to just 15% now is more than a halving of their support . I would think that barring an Assembly collapse that we can expect SF to continue to increase it’s share by a few percentage points but hardly more than 3 or 4 while I would expect the DUP to recover to closer to 30% .

    For the UUP they can’t go much lower and still expect to be seen as a major player in NI politics much less across the water . If we haven’t reached the tipping point yet for UUP extinction then it’s perilously close .

  • Oracle

    it’s quite clear that the working class vote is being lost by S/F but they gain most of the new votes and more and more of the middle class traditional SDLP votes.
    Thus the leakage of tens of thousands of working class votes is hidden for now, but with each passing election it will become more and more apparent that something is amiss with the old core voters.

  • Mark McGregor

    If anyone is a big enough geek you can compare any combination you like by putting the spreadsheet into google docs and using their graph tool. I’ll email the figures if you want them – compare just unionist or nationalist patterns etc, hours of fun….

  • Mark McGregor

    Bulmer,

    Wanted to do a underlying bar chart to show turnout and a overline showing the total electorate but it was too much like work.

    Could be a googlewave project if others want to get involved?

  • I’m glad drawing graphs has caught on!

  • Mark McGregor

    Looking at the huge DUP spike of 2004-07 it mirrors a decline by both the UUP and UKUP. When it falls post 07 it isn’t due to a UUP bounce but a TUV rise. Or with the Euros included it collapses and then recovers with a mirrored TUV collapse in last election. Seems the UUP vote is stable since 05 and while there is flux within unionism they cannot benefit from/tap into it.

  • Mark McGregor

    Update – I’ve removed the additional graphs with the Europeans included (shouldn’t have put them in in the first place, just confused matters)

  • Bulmer

    Mark,
    Alas my excel skills begin and end at the wizard.

    Turnouts in elections used to be huge. Of course we all know about the dead voting but even taking that into account I reckon 15% are potential voters have gone AWOL, even more than in the UK. One can’t assume they’ll vote on same %.

  • slug

    Yes-I think that’s right.

  • Greenflag

    IWSMWDI,

    Look on the bright side . It’ll make the ‘repartitioning of Belfast a lot easier with East Belfast becoming the natural capital of a smaller Unionist State if and when that bridge has to be crossed . Numerical parity will and is I think introducing dynamics of it’s own which has seen the DUP become less obstructive and the UUP more prone to outreach at least in theory . It may be that the political stage will have changed out of all recognition before the time comes when the majority boot is on the other foot .

    Always expect the unexpected in Ireland and you won’t be disappointed .

  • slug

    Thing about next MLA elections is the fact that end of double jobbing will deny DUP some of its biggest vote getters–and the IWEBAND (Independent Women of East Belfast and North Down) will also be unavailable to voters. So this has got to present a hope to Danny Kennedy – or whoever is the next leader of the UUP – to field some of the candidates they presented to the electorate this time round.

  • Mark McGregor

    Sammy,

    Horseman does do graphs but just snapshots that suit him. None of his attempts to portray a rising republican demographic via his isolated focuses are borne out by looking at the overall picture where Unionism may be fragmented but is still well ahead of anything that looks like a vote for Irish unity.

  • medillen

    Oracle I have always took you to be an SDLP supporter, if I am right, what would you know about what is happening within the Sinn Fein core vote, if anything?

  • slug

    Although I am not a fan of Ian Paisley Jr, he was very clear that he was going to be a single jobber.

    Frankly, I would far rather be at Westminster than Stormont if I were a politician.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mark,
    I would hardly describe a graph which shows the Unionist vote declining from almost 65 to almost 50 as ” isolated focuses “.

    Equally the declines in the Unionist votes in North and South Belfast are steep and the fact that they suit his ideology does not make them any less so. The main issue I have with his figures ( which I raise with him from time to time) is the non allowance for differential turnout between Prods and Fenians and something nonbody seems interested in analysing although reasonable figures are available.

    Greenflag,

    An East and West Belfast would require considerable adjustment to existing peace lines but with interesting money making possibilities smuggling currencies and pigs etc across the city. Bring it on.

  • Mark McGregor

    Added a graph to show those pipe dreaming this shows nationalism putting unionism under pressure have no clue.

  • John Joe

    What does those graphs look like if you use numbers of votes (rather than percentages)?
    By the way – if you want to add the overall turnout, either as a percentage or number of votes, you can just include it in the plot but when you have created the graph, right click the data series and select ‘format data series’ then click the axis tab and change it ‘plot series on secondary axis’.
    That way you can compare the fortunes of parties against turnout etc.

  • medillen

    Good graph mark, therefore without the benefit of an initial referendum on Irish unity the current gap is 7/8%, that is a plausible target for persuasion and a the job of work in the period ahead.

  • John Joe

    What does should read what do… etc (I’m obviously better at Excel than Word…)…

  • Mark McGregor

    I just did one for you and your ‘pal’ that believes revloution is just a few fucks away.

  • Mark McGregor

    Excuse me? Seriously? You want me to put the total number of votes cast against the votes cast for a party instead of doing percentages? Can you send me a template for that? You do know what a percentage is?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mark,

    re. “No clue”

    Being about 7% below the 50% mark and still growing is perhaps something you ought to highlight to those mad-dog-dissers you jibber-jabber so much about. Going forth and multiplying on behalf of unity is something the Nationalist population still seem to enjoy and is lot more popular and has a lot more chance of success than what your ‘pals’ get up to.

  • John Joe

    I think you misread my post. I meant plotting the numbers of votes cast for the party in each election. Actual empirical numbers – if (e.g.) the Alliance party attracted a regular following who always vote (say they always have 30,000) – this is going to vary as a percentage depending on the turnout for other parties but may be based on the same core vote (e.g. if turnout is 600,000 their 30,000 is 5%, but if turnout was only 300,000 their 30,000 voters become 10%). It’s an alternative measure that may be of interest. You do know what damned lies are (after all)??
    And don’t anyone jump down my throat – the use of APNI as an example was theoretical and bears no resemblance to reality.

  • John Joe

    Just in case – when I say it might of interest – if you get actual numbers who bothered to come out and vote, who they voted for etc (as opposed to the soft stats of percentages) – it provides a reasonable gauge of empathy and commitment (and its fluctuations) which might help form an idea of margin of error. I think it gives more depth to the figures.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Mark,

    You’re graph is incorrect regarding Sinn Fein. I don’t know what you have for 2007 but it should be 26.2 and show a slight decline since.

    It wouldn’t be like you to hide Sinn Fein peaking would it?

  • Oracle

    Hi Med,

    It isn’t rocket science to see the SDLP vote weaken in the boxes that their strongest votes come out of at election time and it’s not a hidden secret that the party is suffering badly except at Westminster in it’s held seats… but that’s more to do with sectarianism than good election work the same applies with S/F in FST… WT… MU.. NA and NB.

    Now if the party is doing badly and losing voters to SF and SF are also continuing their 80% strike rate with new nationalist voters turned voting age… yet their vote total is not going up (VOTE TOTAL number of votes… not vote percentage)

    It’s very well known among the tallymen that the SF heavy boxes in urban areas are not as heavy as they used to be… by far and away the biggest drop in the heavy boxes are the ones in Belfast West

  • Lionel Hutz

    Silence descends on the thread

  • Mark McGregor

    Eh?

    2007 = 23.5%

    2010 = 25.5%

    My graph shows that.

    Paranoid much? Or just a poor wee oppressed shinner now making shit up?

  • For an equally valid interpretation. From the top down

    John Major

    Toad of Toad Hall

    My wife and I in bed.

  • Mark McGregor

    Lionel,

    Since you are being a smartarse:

    I deleted these two graphs to keep it simple:

    http://yfrog.com/89image2vep

    http://yfrog.com/9himagecnp

    Neither added anything to trend data, especialy on the Unionism front.

    But if you want to cry about me missing a 0.5% SF gain at some point – cry me a river.

  • You’ve got to admit that’s a very John Major smirk.

  • Drumlin Rock

    I think turnout over all in NI has fallen quite dramatically, will look up the figures sometime, butt too late tonight, apart from general apathy brought on by the various agreements other factors have come into play, on the Unionist side
    The UUP suffered the fate of any party that took power for granted, it got stale and lazy and has had to readjust and rebuild, (like the Tories went through and FF is going through now) they are only halfway through this process and arent ready yet to return with strength, in the polling booth the Tory link was a minor factor either way.
    The DUP are still at their peak with a vibrant active party, but also with alot of baggage coming back to haunt them, if you go for the moral high ground dont expect everyone to understand when you slip up, the scandals cost them some votes to others, and PR his seat, but they probably lost more to stay at homes than to others as a result.
    The TUV got nowhere because most people dont like that sort of politics unless they feel seriously under threat.
    So generally apathy, confusion and mainly disgust at “scandal” account for the drop in Unionist voters, can someone tell me the story from the other side?

  • Mark McGregor

    ‘Silence descends’?

    Lionel?

    Don’t tell me you were doing something else.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Mark, I love them last 2 graphs, just shows you how crazy things are here!
    The only graph that is logical to an outsider is the sectarian split one, which shows no real change, says alot really.

  • medillen

    I like your avatar I assume its retorical.

    I dispute your explanation for the figures as being sectarian, I can personally account for four unionists that voted for Michelle Gildernew and I know that there was many more voted for her in Fermanagh South Tyrone.

  • Lionel Hutz

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/vote2007/nielection/html/main.stm

    maybe we have our wires crossed and calm down, I was only having a laugh.

    However both of those sources put Sinn Fein at 26.2% in 2007 assembly election. They were at 23.5% in 2003. I don’t know if they are wrong. Where are you getting your 2007 figure from.

    As for the sinner remark. I just want to see the slight decline in the last 3 years.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Really, why am I awaiting moderation?

  • Lionel Hutz

    That increase would also have the nationalist within 6 or 7% of the unionist vote in 2007 which raises all sorts of questions.

  • Lionel Hutz

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/vote2007/nielection/html/main.stm

    maybe we have our wires crossed and calm down, I was only having a laugh.

    However both of those sources put Sinn Fein at 26.2% in 2007 assembly election. They were at 23.5% in 2003. I don’t know if they are wrong. Where are you getting your 2007 figure from.

    As for the sinner remark. I just want to see the slight decline in the last 3 years.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Ok, so I take it my reply cannot be seen for whatever reason. Check ark or the bbc. Both show that Sinn Fein was 26.2% in 2007 and has slid slowly to 25.5 in 2010

  • redhugh78

    Mark,
    Take off the anti SF specs, Lionels a stoop ffs, and he was accusing YOU of covering up a SF peak therefore insinuating they were in decline.

  • Crow

    Mark – Why does your graph show the combined Nat vote slipping below 40% in 2007?

  • John Joe

    Lionel – you keep trying to salve yourself with the numbers, but if you factor in that Maskey didn’t stand in South Belfast, the SF vote has held at around 26% for the last three elections. (If anyone actually wants to check – their vote in 2007 was 26.2%, the wrong figure 23.5% only appears on the Ark website for the 2007 Assembly election page).
    Lionel, if you eliminate what people have guestimating as tactical votes (that probably won’t be there in the Assembly election) for the SDLP in South Down, Foyle and South Belfast and Deeny’s vote in West Tyrone, you’re merely setting up a ‘collapse’ of the SDLP vote next year.
    But then, who’s going to let real numbers get in the way of analysis when you can cite percentages?

  • Comrade Stalin

    They have also now lost their biggest hitter to Westminister( I persume she wont double job),

    Well, of course. Electing people to Westminster is what has caused the disastrous electoral performance of the DUP and SF. It all started going badly wrong for Sinn Fein whenever Gerry Adams was voted in in 1983.

    Parsley has jumped ship

    To be sure, Alliance is doomed by reducing the number of members who are less than committed to its ideals.

    P&J could be a poisoned chalice

    That’s what poor old Sammy Wilson must be thinking, still licking his wounds in East Antrim after the comprehensive defeat caused by his tenure in the Finance Ministry where he had to make £200m worth of cuts before the election.

  • Neil

    All of this conclusively proves one thing. We need a border referendum so we can get atrue picture of where we stand. The truth of the matter is no-one has any clue as to how the numbers would pan out. There are an awful lot of folk each and every election who don’t come out of the house.

    I think in a referendum you would see a vast increase in the number of voters, throwing all previous numbers so far out of whack that they’d be rendered useless. Apart from trying to predict further Assembly & Westminster elections, but that’s not really the cul de sac this thread’s veered into.

  • union mack

    no we don’t, because if nationalism can’t get 50% of the votes cast in an election despite unionism being in a state of crisis, apathy and disorder, what would it prove? other than that there would be more people voting for the union in a border poll than would vote for unionist parties? thats of course being on the assumption that people don’t vote because they are confident the status quo is secure

  • union mack

    additionally, if we get plans for AV passed in a referendum, those thousands of unionists who keep Ritchie and Durkan at Westminster could vote for a unionist option and give the SDLP candidate their second vote to see them over the 50% mark, therefore increasing the share of the vote going to unionist parties

  • Jean Meslier

    John Joe
    Why are you bothering to respond to old Lionel in a logical way, when it is very clear he is either:

    (a) At it (tongue in cheek at it)

    (b) Deluded (refusing to accept the fall of the house of Margaret, and the lifespan of the SDLP)

    (c) Working for Conall (living in a parallel universe)

  • Neil

    thats of course being on the assumption that people don’t vote because they are confident the status quo is secure

    Which isn’t my assumption. My assumption works more along the lines that there are a vast number of Nationalists in NI who have never seen the inside of a polling booth, and many who have never registered to vote. Which is kind of my point, no one really knows what the outcome will be until it happens, and if you’re right and say 70% of the votes go to maintain the union then we can put the argument to bed for the meantime.

    But it’s better for both sides of the divide to know where they stand, at the end of the day the having of a referendum won’t actually impact on how people will vote, so not having a referendum to find out is akin to burying your head in the sand and saying we won’t have one until some unspecified people have an unfounded reason to believe that there might possibly be a chance of people voting for a UI. We have it, we know where we stand, we don’t we have to rely on people extrapolating from bad data to find out what the result might be.

    As regards your second post, that’s nothing to do with what I said. Forget westminster and vote transfers, think border poll, two options on a page. And anyone who says they can forsee the result (in %age terms) is talking shit. A lot of people on both sides of the fence are off the radar, and you can gaurantee that a border referendum will have a higher turnout at the polls than any other election at any point in the past.

    But to say we shouldn’t have it because ‘we (Unionism) can’t possibly lose’ is no good. We should find out what the actual situation is, instead of relying on apples and oranges comparisons (like Westminster elections and a border poll – not the same thing at all) and whatever life and times comes up with in regard to all Nationalists all being Unionists really, and just pretending to support a UI.

  • John Joe

    The kettle was only boiling and I’d not had my caffeine fix yet.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Maybe I need more caffeine but can someone address the point I’m making. This graph shows Sinn Fein’s vote drop from 2005 to 2007 and then rise again in 2010. The figures I have for these elections show the opposite.

    Did sinn fein get 26.2% in 2007 and if so, why are they shown as well below 25%?

  • John Joe

    Already answered above – there is an error on the Ark website that has (on one page) mixed up the 2003 result and the 2007 result (see here http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/ and http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fa07.htm) – presumably that is where Mark got his figures.

  • Neil

    Yeah that’s what’s on the Ark site.

  • union mack

    GFA states that one should be called when there is a belief that it is the public will. If nationalist parties only get 42% of the vote, how can there be a belief that there is a public will? If they’re not bothered to vote the rest of the time, why should a special vote be held to try and coax the apathetic off their arses? I’m not opposed to having one, but at this time, I don’t see the point.

  • slug

    It’s probably because Mark has “fitted” a smooth line to the data – probably a polynomial smoother with order “n” say n=6 which is not fine enough to pick up the effect you’re talking about . If he were to increase the polynomial’s order to say n=10 it would be fine grained enough to pick up the local effect you are talking about.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Nope mark stated at 11:43 last night that he used a figure of 23.5%. the curve does inexplicably dip at 2007

  • Neil

    The point is to get an idea of where we stand. Depending on your point of view that may mean showing Nationalism, and Unionism for that matter, that a UI is unlikely, or it may mean showing Unionism that it’s going to happen sooner than they think. Either way it’s a straight choice between finding out the facts or continuing with all the hypothetical number crunching which doesn’t apply.

    In your opinion the 50% Unionist vote indicates a lack of public will for a UI. So what would indicate enough public will in your opinion? Nationalism has 42% of the vote, and whether you like it or not, those who choose not to vote and not to bother registering (due to varied reasons, but a popular one being that all the politicians here are arseholes) is a legitimate decision.

    Deciding not to vote is a protest in itself and I see no reason why anyone should feel forced to vote for people they don’t like who do a shit job and get paid too well for it. My main point there is that those folks have as much right as anyone to have a say, and a referendum would bring them out. So I ask what stage between the 42% we now hold which isn’t enough, and the 50% you hold which is enough to dictate the public will is the tipping point where it’s acceptable to say there is will for a vote?

    Personally I wouldn’t have thought the difference between 4 in 10 (Nat) and 5 in 10 (Unionist) was that much. So where does the spot lie where you reckon public will is evident? 4.5 in 10 to your 5 in 10? Or is it more than that? Perhaps you think 60% Nationalist is required, while 50% Unionist holds the cards?

  • While the top ones are more simple, these tell more of a story. While the SF/SDLP voting percentages are on rise/fall without any great lurches (Hume seemed universally popular), the Unionist percentages suggest that this is where the flux/debate is happening. Its a percentage game when using graphs, but still interesting and I am not sure this sits with Paul’s proposition at the top of the comments.

  • Devil Eire

    Far better to turn off the spline altogether and connect the data with straight lines.

  • slug

    Devil I do not agree – a degree of smoothing allows one better to identify trends.

  • Rabbit

    Medillen,

    Are you sure that wasn’t just one person who voted four times for Michelle? I like you, can personally account for a number of nationalist voters who were awarded votes in FST (their home place) and South Befast (where they currently reside).

  • Devil Eire

    Slug, that’s true. It’s just that there’s no reason to expect that hypothetical polls taken at intervening dates would scatter about this spline. (How smoothly-varying is voter preference? Ask Peter Robinson.) The data are snapshots in time and I would prefer to present them as such.

    As a general point, the increasing ability of the internet to make available graphical data in order to inform public debate (e.g. http://www.google.com/publicdata/home) is remarkable. Anything which increases (sites like) Slugger’s low signal-to-noise ratio is to be welcomed.