#SluggerReport: … and #AE17 South Antrim and North Belfast

Two items this morning, before the profiles. One was largely a reprise of yesterday’s story on the odd position the SF Health Minister now finds herself in, and then the odd news that the Attorney General is considering suing the Dept of the Economy for not (in the first place) bringing the RHI to the Executive table back in 2012, making it, he argues, unlawful.

We really are moving through the looking glass here.

So, South Antrim:

  • If the DUP is vulnerable to seat losses in the east, south Antrim’s three on 2.25 quotas must be near the top of the list. The UUP are running two on a quota of 1.3. The TUV transfers broke pretty evenly between them.
  • At .8 quotas Sinn Fein’s electoral machine should see Declan Kearney come ahead of the SDLP’s Roisin Lynch, who’s on .6, from last May and then power home on the majority of her transfers.
  • The one who’s always most vulnerable is David Ford. This could be his tightest contest since that to the last blood fight with SF’s Martin Meehan in 2003, but if Alliance is going to get a positive swing it should be here.

And, North Belfast:

  • The sectarian bear pit to beat all sectarian bear pits. Polarisation and the DUP’s dominance over other Unionist parties (.75 quotas) means they should pick up three seats on just over two quotas.
  • On the nationalist side things are more complicated, not least because of the emergence of a strong Alliance candidate on one hand, and a challenge from the PBP on the other.
  • On 1.6 quotas SF has the second strongest presence. The SDLP’s Nichola Mallon had just .6 quotas last May. Since then she’s made a bit of a media splash. Transfers should take her above the second SF candidate.

You can follow all the #AE17 specials and constituency profiles here. Please note, these are early broad analyses which assume no change from last May. I’m reserving my actual predictions until Slugger’s big punt night.