Monday 25 May 2009

Jim Allister, hot on their heels

At the start of the European Parliament election campaign there was a hope – maybe even a belief – amongst the DUP that Jim Allister was a hopeless candidate. Without the DUP machine, they perhaps thought, he was reduced to a one-man band, supported only by his family and die-hard supporters, and lacking the finance to mount a successful campaign to retain his seat.

Well, the sheer number of his posters shows that he has both the financial and human resources to mount a decent campaign.

And it seems to be paying off!

At the start of the campaign the popular belief (as expressed, quite accurately, in the willingness of punters to wager their hard-earned cash) was that he would, in all likelihood, receive between 30,000 and 40,000 first preference votes. Not a bad score and one that might embarrass the DUP by pushing them into second place behind Sinn Féin’s Bairbre de Brun.

After a few weeks of real campaigning, though, the popular feeling has shifted dramatically. The punter now believes – and is willing to stake his money on it – that Allister will receive over 60,000 votes. The graph below shows the situation at 13 May, and the situation today. The height of the line reflects the odds on Allister receiving a particular score (for convenience odds of, e.g., 7/1 have been converted into 1 divided by 7. Hence the shorter the odds the higher the line):


It can be clearly seen that in less than two weeks the punter has shifted his (or occasionally her) belief in Allister’s vote-gathering ability significantly upwards.

This presents real problems for both of the other unionist candidates. Every vote that Allister gets is a vote that they will not get. And let’s not forget – in the last European election in 2004 there were only 260,000 unionist votes. So if Allister takes 60,000 of the unionist votes, this leaves relatively few to be divided between the two other unionists. If Allister’s votes fail to transfer in large numbers to Jim Nicholson of the UUP – who was barely 4,000 votes ahead of the SDLP last time – then the unionist nightmare of two nationalist seats may become reality.

Linked to Allister’s increasing share of the unionist vote is a serious weakening of Diane Dodds position. From earlier odds of 11/10 to top the poll Dodds odds have now deteriorated to 2/1. It seems that the punter believes that Allister’s additional votes will come from Dodds as well as Nicholson (whose odds have also lengthened, from 10/1 to 12/1). Allister seems to be successfully turning this campaign into a three-horse race for the unionist vote, with wholly unpredictable results.

18 comments:

hoboroad said...

What % of the vote do you need not to lose your deposit in Euro Elections Horseman?

hoboroad said...

Is there a electoral pact between the TUV and UCUNF?Was a rumour going round of meetings in supermarket carparks between them a couple of weeks ago all very cloak and dagger.

hoboroad said...

Only 4,000 votes the last time between Martin Morgan and Jim Nicholson.Alban has much a higher profile this time Morgan no harm to him did not have much outside North Belfast.Squeaky bum time at Cunningham House come election night.

Horseman said...

hoboroad, I don't know what the threshold for retaining a deposit in the EP election in NI is. In GB it is 2.5%, but the reference does not mention NI (which is a differenty type of election). Look here: http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/notes/snsg-03779.pdf

Horseman said...

And regarding the pact between the UUP and the TUV, that was mentioned last year, I think, but not mentioned since. It's a bit late now for it to to play any role in this EP election.

Anonymous said...

just on the posters thing, I see stickers appearing over the DUP's posters,they are tri-colors with DUP traitors in black writing.
more dirty tricks.

hoboroad said...

Reg Empey will jump in to bed with anyone.First the PUP/UUP alliance now its the Tories.You wonder who Reg is going to wake up with next the mind boggles!

hoboroad said...

Thanks for the information Horseman.Three posts on one day keep up the good work.

hoboroad said...

Anonymous are you an American by any chance?

An fhirinne gharbh said...

From the SDLP Youth website:

“There will also be considerable interest in the third seat held by Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson and whether there is any possibility of the SDLP’s Alban Maginness being in with a chance of coming through the middle. Research for the SDLP by an American, Dr Michael Moriarty, points to 65 000 potential new voters on the register and claims that the breakdown is approximately 50 000 nationalist and 15 000 unionist. He adds that the party needs an additional 20 000 votes to win a seat."

I wonder if that research is publicly available.

hoboroad said...

50,000 new nationalist votes I wonder what percentage is middle class and not natural Sinn Fein voters.

hoboroad said...

And how many of these new voters come from West of the Bann because Sinn Fein have those votes pretty much to themselves.

Horseman said...

An fhirinne gharbh,

I wonder if that research is publicly available.It doesn't appear to be, but I know that Dr Moriarty is an occasional visitor to this blog, so perhaps if he reads this he will see that there is some interest, and will make his research available.

Naomh Brid Abu said...

I have not seen Dr Moriarty's research but he's really suggesting that Unionists make up a mere 23% of new potential voters on the register then I tink we can safely discount it. There are demographic changes and there are demographic changes! rTry placing a bet on the SDLP snatching the third seat and any bookie will take your hand off. It's not a runner. The combined Unionist vote was 35k in excess of the Nationalist one in 2004 and, despite Uncle Jim's intervention this time round, the Unionist family will tranfer with sufficient discipline to retain the seat by whomever. May be different in two elections' time, though

kieron said...

NBU,

I agree but have had my hand taken off by my good friend PaddyPower for non-perfidious-Alban at 10/1 - but only a tenner.

Babs is now running at 1/3 which I hope to recoup my Alban bet from.

SF seem for some reason seem to attract the most money which means that unlike in opinion polls, where the reverse happens, the strength of their position seems to get over estimated.

Dazzler said...

Is the 65,000 extra votes on the register an increase from the last EU vote or in the last year or last election.

Anonymous said...

No I'm not an American.
I would'nt read too much into the 'new voters' on the register, remember thousands were put off it over the last few elections, all to try and stop the shinners rise in popularity I suspect..

Horseman said...

Dazzler,

Unless Dr Moriarty shares his research with the wider world (i.e. not just the SDLP), we cannot know. His figure of 65000 is strange, because the increase in the electorate since the most recent election (2007 assembly) is 49,949, while the increase since the last EP election in 2004 is 85,184. So where he gets 65K from, I do not know.

Anonymous is right - not all of the increase (50K in 2 years) is 'natural increase'. Much is due to improvements in the electoral register.

In the last two years, though, we can be fairly certain that 30K people have died, and that 20K of these were Protestant, and thus likely unionists. Around 25K of new voters have reached age 18 in each of the past two years, giving a 'natural' increase of only 20K (50K new minus 30K deaths). If slightly more of the new voters are Catholic (and thus likely nationalist), we could expect a net gain for nationalism of around 15K voters. BUT ... turnout for EP elections is notoriously low, so this would translate only into a net gain in nationalist votes of 7000.

Hardly enough to swing it for Maginess, but who knows how things will work out.