Boundary changes and their possible effects…

For you hard core number crunchers, Nicholas Whyte has a great roundup of the boundary changes with numbers of voters (based on how they voted last time) over at the Stratagem election page… It is really worth reading down through the whole thing, not least for possible second or third phase plays in places like Strangford or East Antrim:

…one can see the boundary changes having the following likely effects:

Unionist gain from nationalists: almost certain in Lagan Valley, possible in South Antrim, South Belfast, and North Antrim.

Nationalist gain from unionists: almost certain in Strangford and East Antrim (though Alliance seats in both are also potentially at risk), possible in South Down.

But of course, this analysis is based on voters supporting the same parties in 2011 as they did in 2007, whatever the boundaries may be; and we can be pretty certain that that will not happen.

  • Barry the Blender

    I think a nationalist loss is a given in Lagan Valley (unless the’s some mass migration into the area from Crossmaglen that PaddyReilly will be along to tell us about in moment). North Antrim, despite many of the fantasy figures touted on slugger remains a likely gain too.

    I think South Antrim should deliver another unionist seat too, but that’s not a seat that unionists missed due to boundary changes; it was lost by poor vote management, over-nomination and Strangford.

    South Belfast remains an outside possibility. Changing demographics more than anything else will probably stop it happening though.

    On the nationalist side, I have my doubts about gains in East Antrim, Strangford or South Down. I’m not willing to call them either way.

    And perhaps most interestingly, there will be a new set of boundaries along soon enough if we move to 16 constituencies. That’s probably more important in the long term than the ones were about to use for the first time in an assembly election.

  • PaddyReilly

    So Nationalists lose three and gain none? This has been an unhappy readjustment for them.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Paddy Reilly, to be fair it’s likely that there would be one gain in West Tyrone from Kieran Deeny.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    I’m really amazed at some of the predictions here.

    I read the newsletter predictions frm 2007 and was amazed at how wrong they were… all orange – tinted spectacle wearing commentators who predicted about one hundred million unionists elected.

    Facts are facts folks.

    North Antrim will be ight but how ppl have extrapolated Westminster as a precursor for this election is amazing. Nic’s numbers are right: 3 sparsely populated glen wards with about 1500 voters cannot on anyone’s maths lead to declan o’loan being a no hoper. If westminster ’10 results were believed then it actually lost more like 4000 voters. Sums don’t add up. More likely an afternoon of slamming their balls in a door was more appealling to nationalists than voting in a paisley-allister dogfight.

    Lagan Valley will almost certainly lose a nationalist rep.

    South Antrim will see an almighty tussle but be prepared to see something resembling the status quo. If you bother to look at transfer patterns then you’d see that these extra candidates (BNP, TUV) are not automatic sweepers for the bigger parties and like north antrim the SDLP has decided sending 2 candidates after half a seat is no longer a viable strategy.

    East L’derry shows no new nationalist but how can the DUP defend all their seats? (Could a McClarty or even Alliance gain from DUP be ruled out?

    East Antrim appears to have a nationalist quota, but that doesn’t translate as a seat necessarily. Probably does though since SDLP actually held a seat here when Danny O ‘Connor got just a handful of votes from blood relatives and paid staffers and still got elected.

    South Down is touch and go. I initially agreed with Nic that there are prob. just about 2 unionist seats. But what puzzles me is the drop between 2005 NOTONAL results and 2010 results at westminster. What is this drop down to? Even more tactical voting? I’m not sure… but it could make another nationalist (SDLP) seat more likely.

    Strangford looked a certain gain for SDLP but 2010 doesn’t add up so I wouldn’t put my house on it any more.

    West belfast took in about proportionately similar number of unionists so I don’t know if a unionist seat is any more likely.

    Don’t think anyone who knows anythng about South Belfast considers it to be a likely unionist gain on new boundaries…. Do they?

    North Belfast probably finishes off the UUP on new boundaries to the benefit of DUP. But not sure if that is countered by no Deputy Doddsy on the ticket.

    On balance I see a couple more nationalist (mostly SDLP) gains from unionists. Would admit that some could be wholly wrong however due to turnout or local factors for which I’m totally ignorant.

  • Gopher

    A couple of points to notice about Strangford are the SDLP recieved in the region of 460 transfers from unionist parties. Five of the eight unionists standing dont transfer to nationalists whilst six of the ten would in 2007. With no GP standing its anyone guess were those transfers go as first preference this time round if they bother to vote at all.

  • PaddyReilly

    Orange tinted spectacles is about right. What none of these predictions take into account is that the electorate is gradually changing, primarily because elderly Protestants, who greatly outnumber elderly Catholics, are dying off.

    I calculate that the Catholic proportion of the population increases by about 1% every two years, and has been doing so since about 1971. So those constituencies which Nicholas Whyte describes as 2.7% less Catholic due to boundary changes will, in the four or five years between elections, have recovered most of their loss. Only in Lagan Valley is the change sufficient to have a visible effect, and even there any losses will have been largely recouped by the time of the next election.

    Not all Catholics vote for SF & the SDLP, it is true: some vote Alliance or Green. But in multi-choice elections these latter inevitable transfer to the SDLP, and to a lesser extent SF; so the number of Nationalist seats is almost exactly what we would expect from the percentage of Catholics in the population.

  • separatesix

    The DUP is certain to lose an assembly seat in East Londonderry to the TUV’s Boyd Douglas. David McClarty is a spent force and no longer having the uup label behind him, I predict him having more time on his hands for his amateur dramatics, he is also standing for the council elections which makes him a hypocrite, as he has condemned double-jobbers in the past, maybe David expects to do so badly it’ll not matter. Lesley Macaulay seems popular with both traditional and liberal unionists. Perhaps someone else could comment on the nationalist and republican candidates.

  • separatesix

    Cross-community transfers are an urban myth, I’ve seen evidence of it yes but it’s probably elderly people who got muddled.

  • granni trixie

    ‘Class’ which I think has a bearing in how people vote is not factored into this analysis (understrandably). Let me give you an example. Lisburn RD/Malone was traditionally well off Unionist/Protestant. About ten years ago the wife of a bookie in WB said to me on the LIsburn Rd ” everybody from WB is living here now”, during the economic boom when business people were upwardly mobile.
    The profile of people living in the area impacts on the preferences of voters on the forthcoming election.

    Separatesix: as one who has looked closely at votes tumbling out of the boxes, I tell you that you re wong to say that “cross community transfers are an urban myth”.
    One example from that other urban myth “the doorsteps” I hope makes my point|: “I wont vote for the DUP because they work with SF – I’ll vote Alliance”.
    ie people perceive and interpret political parties to their own liking.

  • Gopher

    Another place where this “urban myth” exists is South Antrim, the SDLP recieving @ 450 transfers from unionists equating to 10% of their vote. Again with less unionists candidates standing that actually transfer to the SDLP it will make Burns chances that bit harder. It would be interesting though unlikely to see what would happen if McLaughlin failed to reach a quota on the first count.

    Probably the mellowing of the DUP UUP spat will probably be a factor too in transfers in this election.