North Antrim Constituency Profile – Assembly Elections 2022…

The last decade was one of the steady declines of the Unionist and Nationalist designations and of slow but accelerating growth in Others.

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There were no signs of tactical voting by Nationalists or Others, but the withdrawal from the contest of the TUV means that the Westminster result tells us nothing about the relative strengths of the Unionist parties. The vote in the Westminster election would have given 3 Safe unionist seats plus 1 Safe Alliance and a Good possibility for either a fourth unionist or SF. Although it is worth noting that Nationalist turnout at Westminster elections is often depressed in North Antrim, which may have been a factor here.

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My Central projection from the Lucid Talk poll gives the following pattern (remember to allow for the margins of error in the poll and in this projection).

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Which would mean that quotas per candidate might look something like this. Seats won in 2017 are highlighted in gold.

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Votes for DUP and TUV are split in the same proportions as in 2017. The UUP’s are split as they were in 2016 when they last stood two candidates.

There are no other candidates.

It is worth noting the division of votes between the two TUV candidates. This is the split that prevailed in 2017 and which would almost certainly deprive the party of the chance of a second seat. In fact. The TUV’s split will have to be as good as the DUP’s to put the TUV on an equal footing. There must be doubt about the party’s ability to manage their vote that efficiently, given the dominance of Jim Allister.

My Central projection gives 4 Safe seats, 1 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 TUV and 1 SF. Both Alliance and the DUP would have an equally Good possibility of taking the fifth seat.

This nicely illustrates the importance of really small differences in party shares when it comes to the distribution of transfers. Surprisingly enough (and I had to double check this) the two other projections (of which the Central projection is merely the average) both agree that there are 4 Safe seats, 1 DUP, 1 TUV, 1 SF and 1 Alliance. One of the two has the UUP as a fifth safe seat, while one slightly downgrades that to Expected, and awards a Long Shot to the second TUV.

NOTE ON METHOD:

There is no perfect way to translate a national poll to a local constituency level. Still less so in a PR system. We must recognise a level of uncertainty. I have used the last Lucid Talk poll as my base because, as well as giving party shares, it also tracks how the voters for each party at the last Assembly election intend to vote this time. This allowed me to make two projections for each constituency, one based on vote switching since 2017, the other on changes in party vote shares since the 2019 Local Government elections. (I used the LG elections due to widespread tactical voting at the later Westminster.)

The two different projections mimic two different patterns of changes in party support. In one, a party that is growing strongly will see a bit less of that growth where it is already strong, and a bit more where it was previously at it most weak. Conversely the parties that have lost voters will suffer a bit more in their strongest constituencies.

The other projection has the opposite effect. Either may prove to be a more accurate reflection of reality. And while the differences between the two are not massive (they both must total to the same poll shares across all constituencies) they can still sometimes produce different outcomes.

I should stress that while the Lucid Talk bears the responsibility for the original poll, the projections are entirely my responsibility.

For each 1st preference projection, I have used recent transfer patterns to identify all candidates who have any chance of winning on a scale ranging from Safe to Long Shot.

To avoid burdening you with all this detail I have averaged the results of the two projections and shown them as a Central projection, merely noting where one of the other projections produces a noteworthy difference.

Where a party is running more than one candidate, I have generally split the party vote between them in the same proportions at the last election. I have had to make my own assumptions when a party has a different number of candidates this time.

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