3/08/2013

A cause for concern?

So the results are in and as expected Francie Molloy is the new MP for Mid Ulster. I don't think that anyone with an ounce of sense expected anything different.


That said if we have a closer look at the results there may be a few interesting things happening within the political geography

1. Alliance Party

In 2010 they received 1% of the vote and 397 actual votes. This time out Eric Bullick received 487 votes. With less than 100 extra votes this is hardly impressive and confirms yet again that Alliance is an East of the Bann soft Unionist party, or at least the vast majority of their supporters are.

2. SDLP

In 2010 Tony Quinn got 5826 votes (14.3%), which was a loss on 3% on their previous result. This time out Patsy McGlone took 6,478 votes (17.3%) in a reduced turnout. Thus making him the only main candidate to increase both his party actual and percentage vote. Now Patsy is a much stronger candidate compared to Tony Quinn and Francie Molly is no Martin McGuinness (not meant as an insult just a reality check).

That said the SDLP seem to have returned to their 2007 vote and for them this will seem like a victory but caution should be reached here. This was an election that was played as safe a houses and we had a massive drop in turnout so before they start proclaiming that they have turned the tide we would need to wait until the Euro election next year.

3. Sectarian Headcount AKA Agreed Unionist Candidate Nigel Lutton

Mr Lutton inherited a combined Unionist vote of 13,380 (32.7%) and in this election achieved 12,781 (34.2%). I don't care how anyone tries to spin this, this was a poor result. He took a reduced vote at a time when the entire story of this election has been about him. He had several combined party machines out supporting him and he took back a reduced Unionist vote. The % share may be up but only because Republican voters didn't come out in their usual numbers. Then Mr Lutton laughed about how someone described him as the "undertaker who resurrected unionism".

Oh dear God!

Sadly not Nigel, the Unionist vote fell by 599 votes compared to the 2010 Westminster election. In the 2011 local election the combined Unionist vote was 14,216 and the Assembly election was 13,611. This was not a good result and many in the UUP must be asking was a reduced Unionist vote worth the damage done to the party and the loss of two MLA's?

4. Sinn Fein

The winners of this election but perhaps only by winning the seat. I know that may sound weird but let me explain.  In 2010 Martin McGuinness took 21,239 votes (52%) but yesterday Francie Molloy took 17,462 votes (46.7%). On the face of it that is a 3,777 actual vote decrease or a 5.3% slip compared to 2010.

Now there were a few factors at play here for Sinn Fein. Martin McGuinness is one of the most popular members of the Sinn Fein leadership and the party is general and as such Francie was always up against it here. There was also the media commentary that made it clear this was a done deal, which it was, and that Francie was going to walk it to victory.

All that being said the Sinn Fein vote was down almost 4,000 votes from 2010 and the SDLP increased their vote 652 votes. This was despite a host of Sinn Fein party stalwarts and canvass teams from across the country helping out. Now in fairness we don't know where the SDLP votes came from, it could have been moderate Unionist voters annoyed at the lack of choice, it could have been soft Sinn Fein votes put off by the gruff nature of Francie or a million other reasons in between.

Only Sinn Fein will know how their Green Vote came out on Election Day.

For outsiders, Sinn Fein operates a three colour system when canvassing. Each voter is assigned a colour based on a myriad of factors including reaction to canvassers on the door steps, previous dealing etc.

Those colours are Green for those who will vote Sinn Fein, yellow for those who might be persuaded to vote or may at least offer a preference and then there is white. The white voter would not piss on Sinn Fein if they were on fire. These are dissidents, hard core SDLP, Unionists, hoods etc. In all of my canvassing previously for Sinn Fein the most fun was always with the white voter. As they launched into tirade after tirade you simply smiled at them, thanked them for their time and left with your dignity intact.

Anyway, I digress. After everyone has been marked green, yellow or white that information is keyed into computers centrally and a green canvass is formed. It is then the job of the Sinn Fein organisation in a specific area to ensure that the green vote comes out on the day. As such only they will know what % of their Green vote came out and if at all what % decrease they have seen in their Green vote.

Knowing how the party works post election time I can guarantee that this result will be analysed as will the tallies from the count. If Sinn Fein has picked up on any trends or causes for concern they will address them.

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