#SluggerReport: McCabe and the southern meltdown, plus #AE17 East Antrim and Foyle profiles

This morning’s #SluggerReport touched on a potential meltdown in the south over the disclosure by RTE’s PrimeTime that Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe had been the victim of what looks distinctly like a vilification campaign.

It’s the sheer length and sustained nature of the campaign that impresses/depresses. The government’s response has been partial, self contradictory and shambolic, leading SF to call for Motion of No Confidence (in hopes of triggering a second Irish election).

So far, Fianna Fail seems determined to hold the line for the government, not by voting with them but abstaining and therefore facilitating another while in government. [Until the next crisis? – Ed] That, or until Enda steps down.

Closer to home we also discussed Mike Nesbitt’s announcement that he intends to vote across community lines in his lower preferences in his home constituency of East Belfast.

It’s a strategy that may get its first serious test in East Antrim, where if nationalist voters want to clip the DUP’s wings they have the possibility of putting a second UUPer across at the expense of the DUP or UKIP.

  • The new quota is 5402 leaves the DUP on just 2.16 quotas this time. David Hilditch is the only one who exceeded that figure by topping the poll last time. To stand a chance of getting three over on lower transfers they’d need better vote management at the very least.
  • UKIP’s best chance of a comeback with Noel Rogers. He’s very transfer friendly but probably starts from too low a point to get in. So too is Oliver McMullan of Sinn Fein who sits just below .5 of a quota. He’s a fighter but with less than 1000 transfers it’s a hard station..
  • Alliance are good for Stewart Dickson again, and won’t have much left over. So the UUP have the difficult trick to pull off of keeping a chunk of transfers from other unionists, whilst convincing nationalists to lend them a hand. Interesting post-election analysis.

And, in Foyle:

  • Can Eamonn McCann hold onto his seat? The new quota at 6618, gives him just .6 of a quota. How much of Anne McCloskey’s rightist independent vote will cut for him; and how will his Brexit stance play in NI’s most “Remainer” (78%) constituency?
  • These are genuinely open questions, but if he does make it who will pay? We can exclude the Unionist seat here which despite a spat with  over Nesbitt’s comments with the UUP’s Julia Kee, should see the DUP’s Gary Middleton home easily on a quota.
  • On 1.8 and 1.7 quotas the SDLP and SF are evenly poised from May, when Martin McGuinness (now a ghost in the SF machine) narrowly topped the poll for SF.  The SDLP have party leader advantage, whilst SF run the young Mayor of Derry and Strabane Elisha McCallion.

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.