GE ’24: Mid Ulster Constituency Profile…

This was the sixth safest Westminster constituency in Northern Ireland in 2019, with 9,537 votes separating the winner, Francie Malloy (Sinn Féin), from Keith Buchanan (DUP). Malloy had held the seat since a by-election in 2013. Prior to that the seat had only been held by a nationalist for 10 out of the 63 years since it was created in 1950. Malloy is not standing again.

The seat covers a rural area to the west of Lough Neagh, including part of the Sperrins. See Map…

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The changes made to the constituency boundaries last November were not substantial.


Jay Basra, UUP

Keith Buchanan, DUP

Padraic Farrell, Alliance

Alixandra Halliday, Aontú

Denise Johnston, SDLP

John Kelly, Independent

Cathal Mallaghan, Sinn Féin

Glenn Moore, TUV

Candidates’ Electoral History

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Vote shares by designation

There were no changes to the boundaries between 2010 and 2023.

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Please note that some Local Government electoral areas cross constituency boundaries which means that the LG figures have been estimated.

Over the period nationalists have trended flat with a bit of a dip at the last Westminster election. Unionists have trended gently down by about 4% points, dropping below 30% in the latest Assembly election. Others have trended up 4% points from near zero, aided by an 8% share at the last Westminster election.

Vote share by party in Assembly and Local Government Elections

In the majority of constituencies there is an element of tactical voting in Westminster elections. Changes in the underlying strength of the principal parties within a constituency can best be understood by looking at their performance in other elections.

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The only party, apart from those above, to achieve more than 1% in any election is Aontú which took between 2 and 3% in the last Assembly and last two Council elections.

There have been nationalist Independents at most elections, taking a total of between 2 and 4% each time.

Sinn Féin has trended up 6% points over the period, while the SDLP has dropped 7%.

The DUP has gained 3% points, the UUP dropped 5% points and the TUV trended flat.

Alliance has put on 3.

Vote share in Westminster elections

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When it comes to Westminster designations normally become more important than individual parties. We can see that at work in the 2013 by-election when the DUP and UUP stood aside for a single unionist candidate (shown as Other Unionist on the chart).

The TUV stood in 2010 and 2015. On the latter occasion it was joined by both UKIP and Conservatives. All three parties are totalled as “Other Unionists” on the chart.

Don’t miss the coloured spots representing the DUP and UUP in 2010 and Workers Party and Independent nationalist in 2015 and 2019.

It is interesting to note that even though the result is always a foregone conclusion, significant numbers of both UUP and SDLP voters switch tactically to their designation champions for the Westminster election.


The boundary changes

Calculating the effects of changes to constituency boundaries is not straightforward since there is no record of precisely how past votes for each party were distributed geographically. Necessarily this involves estimates and assumptions, and these may differ. For many years the UK media have all used the calculations provided by two academics, Rallings and Thrasher, to provide a notional result of how each constituency would have voted at the previous general election if the latest boundaries had been in force. For Northern Ireland their inputs are provided by Nicholas Whyte. These will be the base from which the media will report voting swings when constituency results are declared.

I used different assumptions for my own calculations of the notional vote which resulted in slightly different outcomes. In the following chart the Actual result in 2019 is compared with my estimate and the R&T estimate.

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This gives different notional majorities for 2019.

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In addition to money, the other key resource for an election campaign is the level of constituency work running up to the campaign, and the manpower available in the campaign itself. When it comes to constituency work MP’s and MLA’s have the advantage of an allowance for constituency offices and for a staffing. The amount of staffing money is specified, but MP’s and MLA’s can choose to allocate it to fewer higher-paid staff or a greater number of lower-paid staff.

When it comes to manpower for canvassing and leafleting a party’s elected representatives normally form the core of the group available. Party’s may also choose to bring in helpers from neighbouring constituencies which they have no hope of winning.

The Index Total for each party gives some idea of the relative strength of each party locally.

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Factors possibly assisting Sinn Féin

21.4% points ahead of DUP at the last election.

Share increase since 2019. Comparing 2019 Westminster and Council to 2022 Assembly and 2023 Council shows an increase of 7%.

Factors possibly assisting DUP

Could TUV intervention assist DUP to squeeze 1 or 2% points more from the UUP vote?

Factors possibly damaging the DUP

The TUV candidate could subtract up to 9% points share from DUP, at the TUV’s 2022 Assembly vote share. The TUV took 5% in the 2010 Westminster election when it last stood, and 5% in last year’s Council elections. The latest LucidTalk poll shows the TUV on 5%, in the same ballpark as the 6.2% they scored in the Assembly election in those constituencies that they are contesting this time.


There is no doubt that Sinn Féin will win. The balance of probabilities points to a significantly increased Sinn Féin majority.


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