#AE11 Open Thread: Strangford (#str11)…

Okay, bit of a break there. I do want to get round to Foyle, since it is the only constituency I’ll be visiting on our #UTVtrip tweet up odyssey around Northern Ireland. As the Derry Wans might say, I’ll be leaving the best till last. Instead, I’m going to Strangford next, a place where boundary changes may force a couple of seat changes.

There’s a couple of thousand Unionist voters coming in the south and maybe about 1k nationalist voters. But the mathematics of this constituency are complex. The SDLP have reverted to using their 2007 candidate Joe Boyle, and the DUP seem braced to lose one of their four seats. On the face of not not much else seems up for grabs…

Sammy Morse’s 2007 thoughts here

– And from last year’s Westminsters, Splintered Sunrise’s profile

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  • RyanAdams

    If one DUP seat has to go then Walker will be the looser. All other three candidates got very good areas, whereas he has got basically the Down District chunk of the constituency, in which is not only a more mixed area, but the DUP are not such the dominant force in the Saintfield and Ballynahinch areas in comparison with other parts of the constituency such as Newtownards, the pininsuela and Ards West. Another factor is the loss of 7 Castlereagh East wards where the DUP took 5/7 seats here on 59% of the vote in the 2005 local government elections.

    SDLP may have gained more nationalist areas in the South end of the constituency, but the loss of Carryduff to South Belfast will definatley stunt any growth in the share of the vote for them and SF. Census 2001 may identify Carryduff as a mixed town with a slim protestant majority, but demographic growth and suburban outsurges from Belfast have no doubt affected the town to where it is more of a Catholic 60:40 Protestant split.

  • PaddyReilly

    In the case of there being four DUP seats, I would say that the constituency is so right wing that the TUV are in with a chance. But due to the SDLP being within a whisker of a quota, one of those will probably go to them. Could another be lost to the TUV?

  • nightrider

    The boundary change will draw in SDLP votes. Alliance are sticking with McCarthy who done himself no favours with the saga of his rented office expenses. Him and Boyle are from the Portaferry area.
    Standing Billy Walker will do the DUP no favours, as anyone who has ever met him will testify.
    None of the other candidates are above mediocre.
    Expect the lowest turnout.

  • South Down Stoop

    David McNarry does seem to be in some danger of losing his seat. Nesbitt’s vote in 2010 was a bump of 8% of the UUP’s 2007 vote, he’ll probably cross the line. But many of his transfers could go Alliance or DUP.

    On the nationalist sde, low DUP turnout (caused by the lack of big names, Hamilton is the biggest name at the minute) combined with nationalist moivation with boundary changes could push the SDLP over the edge, presumably at the expense of the lowest 1st pref. DUP candidate. Although the same could have been said for the SDLP over the last ten years in Strangford, always coming within inches of a quota.

    DUP 3 UUP 1 Alliance 1 SDLP 1?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Strangford is probably one of the few areas where the Wesminster vote can give a good glimpse of whats to come, even the Robinson Affair had little impact, using those figures the DUP has just over 3 quotas, the UUP a small fraction under 2, with the Alliance & SDLP fighting it out for the last seat. There is still 0.4 of an, “other Unionist” Quota as well so even on a lower nationalist turnout because of no chance of winning Westminster surely it would be difficult for both SDLP & Alliance to both win seats?

  • Sean Og

    Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Fein all did very badly in the Westminister election but I expect all 3 to poll better this time. Both Alliance and SDLP have realistic chances of a seat each whereas everybody knew they couldn’t win in the General Election.

    DUP have 3 quotas and I can see Simon Hamilton doing very well. He’s been one of the better performers in the Assembly and comes across well in the media. Bell and McIlveen are also safe. Walker is a very poor candidate and won’t poll well.

    Nesbitt will surely poll better than McNarry, especially after David’s recent Nolan Holy Show. I expect Nesbitt to be returned with someting to spare and wouldn’t rule out McNarry joining him.

    The SDLP showing at Westminister was very poor. Their worst vote in this constituency for many years. Talking to locals it seems that they didn’t take to a “blow-in” candidate. Boyle is also considered a “blow-in” by many but he has lived in Portaferry for many years and is well known in GAA circles.

    Sinn Fein will poll well around Ballynahinch and 80% will transfer to Boyle probably pushing him over the quota.

    There’s no Green candidate this time. Does anyone know why? It was Green transfers that elected McCarthy last time and I think he will struggle this time without them.

    I reckon the last seat will be between McCarthy and McNarry with DUP transfers pushing McNarry over the quota.

    3 DUP, 2 UUP 1 SDLP

  • I don’t think anything McNarry said on Nolan will lose him a single vote in the constituency, it may even boost his vote. I see this as one of the UUP’s gains with Nesbitt also winning at the expense of one of the DUP, either Walker or McIlveen. The last seat to me is the hardest to call with the SDLP candidate fighting it out with the SDLP lite candidate of McCarthy. There is a chance of a nationalist seat here but not a nationalist seat and an Alliance seat.

    3 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 SDLP or ALL

  • Drumlins Rock

    For once the UUP has 2 candidates from either side of the party spectrum, so they should gain transfers from both sides, ie. TUV. & DUP4 versus SDLP or Alliance, so long as Nesbitt keeps above those two, chances are his high profile will be transfer friendly if he dosnt hit quota.

  • Carsons Cat

    The figures do show that 3 seats are more likely than 4 for the DUP in this area.

    However, it would seem that some people just don’t want to learn from history. Quite a few of the derisory “he wont poll well” comments attributed to Walker could easily be transferred to Shannon last year. Look what happened there.

    Like it or not, all the people don’t want flash – some of them want the bloke who spends his time peering into potholes. Again, like it or not, Walker’s yer man for that kinda thing.

    Nesbitt & McNarry will spend the campaign worrying about each other, not candidates from other parties. The only other intra-UUP gutting match to compete with it could be the Finlay/McGimpsey battle royal in South Belfast. There’s one UUP seat there though.

    The big question is whether there’s a nationalist seat there or not. The Stoops problem is that they’ve tried to tell the electorate since 1998 that nationalists can win one in Strangford so they maybe just don’t believe them now.

    3DUP, 1UUP, 1Alliance.
    Last seat will be fought out between the 4th DUP candidate, 2nd UUP and SDLP probably. If the UUP vote balance goes very badly and one candidate is miles ahead of the other then that will help the DUP.

  • I am inclined to go with the conventional wisdom that there are only 3 DUP seats…..partly because repeating 4 is a big ask.
    I see above that Hamilton is now the biggest name. Has anyone told Bell? The three sitting members are the most likely.
    One UUP seat and Id edge it to Nesbitt. I think he can reach parts that McNarry cant reach. But like all the UNFCP runners, Nesbitt proved theres nothing of substance in “liberal” unionism.
    I dont know Walker. He seems like a long shot anyway.
    Yet the DUP/UUP people are a strange mix there.
    McIlveen and Hamilton seem liberal by DUP standards. Bell looks hardline. McNarry looks more hrdline than the “liberal” DUP. Nesbitt is basically a Tory who might get a few AP votes.
    so the story here will be for the 5th and 6th seat. Any two from three……AP, SDLP, UUP.
    The factors to look for are the SF transfers on elimination….73% went to SDLP.
    When McCarthy was elected for AP (and I notice an error in my figures here on spreadsheet as I cant add up so I will have to go back to source) ….the point is that AP transfers to SDLP could have been better.
    Westminster result……certainly a poor result for nationalist parties and Alliance but frankly what was the motivation.
    The Local Elections WILL be a factor. It hands an advantage to AP if SDLP dont stand in some DEAs but my understanding is that the SDLP has moved to address this. Perhaps the biggest problem for SDLP here is that the constituency is diverse…….they are relatively strong in the Ards Peninsula area (which is rural) and the Castlreagh area which is effectively Belfast suburbia. They need to bridge the gap socially as well as geographically.

  • Mick Fealty

    Your last point there is the one I think has stymied SDLP ambitions here in the past. The Ballynahinch area transfers, as Sean Og points out, may be the key for them. Just enough of a chunk of nationalist voters to circumvent that problem this time out.

  • Flow

    Have been waiting for this one, purely as it is where I will vote. Looking at the local factors, I think the DUP stand to lose a bit here. The four candidate strategy is in my opinion a lack of recognition that some of the electorate have left them. Three candidates with just over 3 quotas was safe, 4 candidates with the same quota could backfire. Last time out (2007) SDLP only missed the last DUP seat by 31 votes, and that was with both Robinson and Shannon on the ticket, who had good local profiles and personal votes. Added to that is the TUV vote, which will inevitably cost the DUP a bit. The SDLP are running three Council candidates this time, instead of one in the Ards Borough, which will also help get the vote out a bit. On top of that, last year the UUP had almost two quotas (1.95). With only two candidates that is enough for two seats if they all come out and the vote management is right. Alliance should be ok. They didn’t lose a huge amount (about 0.10 of a quota) between 2007 and 2010. Sticking my neck out a bit, I think the return could be, 2 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 ALL, 1 SDLP.

  • Oh certainly the inclusion of the “South Down” wards make a difference. Without access to my notes, as I understand it Crossgar is a Rowallane ward that is still in South Down and some Bhinch wards including Drumaness go to Strangford.
    I think one problem in 2010 was that the folks there resented losing “their MP”, Castlereagh I have not looked at.
    The inclusion of the south Down wards does provide a kind of central area which helps the SDLP…….but look to the Ards Council area ……SDLP generally only stands in the Peninsula but are now in Ards East and the town of Newtownards. Thats the key.

  • RyanAdams

    Drumaness and Crossgar remain in South Down.

    The Down District wards in Strangford are; Saintfield, Kilmore, Killyleagh, Derryboy, Ballymaglave and Ballynahinch East.

    Contrary to popular belief here, New Strangford has absolutley NO Castlereagh here whatsoever, excluding Moneyrea which shares more characteristics with Neighbouring wards like Ballygowan and Lisbane anyway, in comparison with the other parts of the Castlereagh South DEA.

    So fitzjameshorse1745 theres no real point in looking at Castlereagh in this thread, it simply aint there!

  • RyanAdams

    Also, Hamilton and McIIveen are by no means liberal DUP. Hes in the orange order, and she attends the free p in Ballygowan. Maybe fresh faced and youthful in comparison to other DUP candidates, but by no means what you would call liberal.

  • Driftwood

    Only some of Crossgar is in South Down. The ‘liberal’ bit is in Strangford. SDLP/UUP. It confused quite a few people last year.
    Apathy is widespread. and confusion. No-one has a bloody clue about the AV referendum. And the council elections are just a big turn off.

  • Ryan Adams, thanks for this. Youre right.
    I had ward codes 1801-1807 as Strangford but I note that 1805 Drumaness is still South Down.
    2509 Moneyreagh I have in Strangford
    The interest here (and why I will be looking at it) is to see what (if any) votes go out.

  • Driftwood

    To add confusion, Strangford (village) is in South Down.
    As for Drumaness remaining in South Down, I wonder if the commisioners took in to account its most famous resident.

  • Backbencher

    Bearing in mind the DUP had over 3 quotas in 2010, they could still slip a little and expect to get 3 seats with a few transfers. Three seats look safe.
    The UUP on the back of their 2010 vote could expect to take two seats but Nesbitt’s vote was probably enhanced by some middle ground voters backing him as he was the main challenger to Shannon. He won’t benefit from those this time and the UUP vote will suffer as a result. One guarenteed seat for the UUP although Nesbitt rather than McNarry.
    On the Alliance and Nationalist front it is difficult to see who will come out on top in this contest. In 2010 the All/Green vote only exceend the SDLP/SF vote by 65. I suspect some Nationalist stayed at home as they had no prospect of winning, they may return this time.
    Therefore 3DUP, 1UUP with a battle for the last two between the 2nd UUP, All and SDLP. UUP and All should just shade it given they are more likely to get any Unionist surplus.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Backbencher, don’t forget there was 0.4 of a TUV quota last yr too, if most of it was to trickle down to the UUP, either directly or via the DUP then it could more than make up for the Nationalist apathy then.

  • Crow

    There were five and a half unionist quotas at last year’s Westminster elections, with one and half spread across the Alliance, Nats, and Greens. By my estimation approximately a quarter to a third of a quota was picked up by the UUP (as a result of their candidate choice) by voters who would normally plump for the Alliance or SDLP. Based on this, it is difficult to see both the Alliance and SDLP crossing the finishing line. I would have to go with 3 certs for the DUP and 1 for the UUP. Of the other two, 1 will go unionist (probably UUP) and the other Alliance or SDLP (probably Alliance). So having lost by 291 votes in 2003 and only 31 in 2007, look for another heart-breaker for the SDLP in Strangford.

  • lamhdearg

    4 dup 1 uup 1 sdlp, going on what i have read here. and what the people i talk to in portaferry and portavoige say.Not much to go on i know.

  • PaddyReilly

    Drumlins Rock has got it entirely wrong, the Westminster vote is not indicative of what will happen here. We have to expect that the vote there for the first two candidates (DUP and UUP) will go down here, and that for all the others (Alliance, SDLP, TUV, SF, Green) will go up. Obviously Green and SF are not in the running, so we have to watch the first three.

    There is a well established pattern here. In 2001 Kieran McCarthy got 6.7% of the vote at Westminster, in 2003 he won a seat at Stormont. In 2005 he got 9% of the vote at Westminster, in 2007 he got 11.3% of the 1st prefs for Stormont and half way through the count had a quota and a surplus, being elected in third position. He does very well from the Green transfers. So even if he only got 8.7% of the vote in the 2010 Westminsters, he is going to win a seat at Stormont, and not in last position either.

    Which I hope will demonstrate to even the most obdurate of you, you cannot map Westminster percentages onto Stormont elections, they are chalk and cheese. They give us some idea of what is going to happen—obviously Sinn Féin is not going to win all 6 seats next month—but the percentages can go up and down quite dramatically.

    So the Alliance seat is safe. There seems to be some idea that the SDLP will somehow displace Alliance, but if you look at the results you will see that their vote is coming from completely different directions. Alliance never took any transfers from the SDLP, though it picks up votes from all sides. The SDLP in 2007 was not in competition with Alliance: it was fighting the last DUP candidate, and lost by 31 votes with every single vote counted and transferred.

    This time there will be approximately 400 less Unionist votes around and approximately 400 more Nationalist ones. The obvious corollary is that this time the last DUP man will finish behind the SDLP. The only thing I can think of is an improvement in the efficiency of Unionist transferring, but it is nearly perfect already. Equally, matters might be helped by having the exact number of Unionist candidates that you want to get elected—in this case, 5. There are in fact 8, which means that in all likelihood only four of them will get elected.

    Somehow the Stormont system is weighted in favour of smaller parties. Those at least which lean to the centre: whether the TUV will benefit from this rule I do not know, but I would think that they would be approaching a quota at the very least.

  • troubleshooter

    Regarding Walker as the DUP 4th candidate. I believe he is an excellent choice. OK so in relative terms he’s probably not as polished as the other 3.
    However, what is the point of paying lip service to reconnecting with unionist working class when the team of candidates does not reflect that.

    Walker has a fantastic record in Killyleagh / Crossgar and lately Ballynahinch in particular with a less advantaged demographic.

    With Walker on the ticket the DUP have presented a more diverse team to the Strangford electorate.

    Having Gerard and Lampard in the middle has proven flawed in the past.