My analysis of Mid Ulster is a little harsher for Sinn Fein than most. But I can’t see much bounce for the new leader since last June since Mid Ulster was the constituency of the previous SF leader, Martin McGuinness. They’re significantly short of three quotas too.
In their favour, they have an election machine second to none. Nor are they afraid to use marked registers to help them figure out who has voted and who hasn’t. Despite the fact that it’s not, strictly speaking, legal.
This precision marketing is key to their enduring ground war electoral success. It has helped them buck the weather, and confound their critics time and again. For instance, take West Belfast where the machine is at its most confident:
— brendanbelfast (@brendanbelfast) February 24, 2017
So yesterday, this came in from a Slugger reader in Mid Ulster (name and address withheld):
This is not what the party has been sending out across the constituency. Those marked registers give the party a huge advantage in terms of segmenting the local political market. This particular voter had never had such a communication from the party before.
If it demonstrates anything it is that the party thinks Martin rather than the new (and very local) leader is still the main pull. But then look carefully at the text? It describes SF’s putative partners in government as being guilty of crude bigotry.
Not quite a crude 2015 ‘remember you’re a Catholic’ campaign in North Belfast.
But then again it is not exactly advertising a particularly appetising coalition of the willing either.
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