So what’s this election about again? According to the media, it’s all about Sinn Fein vs the DUP. Trouble is that this delusion is so widespread no one questions it anymore.
Indeed, the political apotheosis of this flawed thinking was the SDLP’s Stop the DUP lollipop signs in that bitterly cold campaign of 2003 (another case of timing being set to inconvenience all but one party).
By the end of the first day’s count it was obvious there were to be two winners that day, Sinn Fein and the DUP. There’s always been an odd comradery sometimes couched in rather crude terms.
It’s worked like clockwork ever since. Nevertheless, even by NI standards, this election is an odd one. After just seven months no one has a strategy ready made to put in the field.
Now, Lagan Valley:
- The last time out the UUP had a mini revival, helped no doubt the defection of Jenny Palmer from the DUP. But they go into this one with 1.2 quotas. From distance (without a swing) it’s hard to see which gets back.
- The DUP, on the other hand, were clipped from four to three last time (on 3.5 quotas). This time they only run three on 2.8. Since we have no clear evidence of movement they should get back relatively comfortably.
- Trevor Lunn stands again for Alliance. His dip last time coincided with a bump in Pat Catney’s SDLP total. But all Lunn has to do is to hold his first preferences and UUP/SDLP transfers should do the rest.
And, South Down:
- With the drop from six seats to five, all eyes are on the Unionist end of the ticket. Henry Reilly (ex UKIP and TUV) does not seem to be running this time. His transfers broke fairly evenly between the two Unionist parties.
- It’s a reflection of the slippage in the SDLP’s position in the constituency that they and SF are now pretty evenly balanced in this deeply conservative Catholic constituency. At just under 1.9 quotas each they should take four.
- Leaving just one seat for Unionism. With Jim Wells sitting on .73 quotas and McKee on .5, it’s hard to see how the latter gets into the top five at the end of the first count. There’s not enough spare to get the UU man home.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty