What to look out for tonight

It’s nearly all over as one of the quietest campaigns comes to an end but turnout is reported to be doing well in many places across Northern Ireland at 5pm.

What should you look out for;

For the UK wide picture as soon as it hits 10pm the main networks BBC, ITV and SKY News will publish the results of their exit poll, be cautious about other polls out there! Some folks got other polls mixed up in 2015 and dismissed the results of the actual published poll.

Locally there will be no exit polls and as many races in Northern Ireland are seat by seat battles an overall poll might not tell you much about close contests, so you’ll have to pace yourself.

Here is a list of estimated times for the declaration of seats

If these times are broadly accurate look out for the following

Foyle- Must commentators are not expecting this seat to change hands, however what will be telling here would be how the SDLP/Sinn Fein battle is going. If this seat is close or changes hands, then it will spell real trouble for the SDLP.

Upper Bann- This is one of the more marginal DUP seats and again if the David Simpson holds this seat with an increased majority then it will be a good night for the party overall. Another thing to watch here is the race for second place, if Sinn Fein beat the UUP into second place, it will again tell us that the surge is still on behind the party from March and the UUP might be in difficulties.

Around 2am, we get the mother load of swing seats coming in with North, South and East Belfast reporting. These three seats will really complete the picture about the day the DUP is having and how Alliance is performing. Watch out for the margins for Nigel Dodds & Gavin Robinson if they win and can Emma Pengelly gain South Belfast, if she does the DUP could be heading for a record result equaling or besting their 2005 result.

If you are solely interested in Alliance, it is safe to turn off here. If you are following the other main parties then keep watching.

Another thing to look at is how Paul Maskey does in West Belfast, Sinn Fein took a dip in 2015, can he repeat the increase and get the vote back up to around 60% that his party recorded in 2017.

If you are still holding on, it is worth waiting for South Down and South Antrim, if both fall to Sinn Fein and the DUP then it will really be a historic result for both parties and the decimation of their opponents.

Then if you are like me and you’re too invested, Fermanagh/South Tyrone which is usually last will really be the cherry on the cake.  If you are in Sinn Fein or the UUP, you will likely have the longest night of all the party activists.

One spoiler is that since 2001, a seat has always taken us by surprise at a Northern Ireland Westminster poll, be ready for a possible surprise.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs