Friday 7 May 2010

Tactical voting – Part 2 – South Down

Continuing the theme of tactical voting: South Down.

If the share of the vote that the unionists and the SDLP received in 2007 were applied to the voting turnout of 2010, unionism should have got 13,326 votes (or 31.8% of the votes cast) – but yesterday it got only 8,244. The SDLP, on the other hand, should have got 13,358 (or 31.4% of the total) – but they actually got 20,648 votes (48.5%).

So the unionist total decreased by 5,282, and the SDLP total increased by 7,290. It seems likely that over 5,000 of the SDLP's extra votes were unionists trying to thwart a Sinn Féin victory.

But who were the other 2,000 votes that the SDLP received over its 'natural' vote? Well, a few hundred may have been people who had voted Green in 2007, but it seems likely that even some Sinn Féin voters switched to the SDLP. The Sinn Féin vote yesterday was actually 1,898 votes lower than in 2007. So South Down may have seen a strange combination – unionists, ex-Greens and ex-Sinn Féin voters combining to thwart Caitriona Ruane - this may be a report-card from the voters on Ruane's performance as Minister of Education.


Anonymous said...

Unionist tactical voting was massive witnessed it with my own eyes, the assembly election will be very interesting... SF vote up 3% from last Westminster.

Colm said...

There are a number of factors that make a comparison between Assembly and Westminster elections prone to innacuracy. Sinn Fein's policy of abstention may have galvanised some moderates who stayed at home in 2007 to row in behind Ritchie. The Westminster election gives people the opportunity in some cases to vote against as much as for a candidate. Boundary changes since the 2007 election could also have had an effect.

I wouldn't see the South Down result as a major set back for Ruane. She has increased her share of the vote since the last directly comparable election in 2005, and she didn't rely on unionist votes to do it.

Having quickly looked at the figures, the turnout in nationalist constituencies appears to have fallen more than the average fall in unionist constituencies. These elections are widely viewed as a dress rehearsal for next year's assembly elections. Perhaps the idea of exercising a vote in a British general election is becoming less important to nationalists.

Anonymous said...

Agree Colm, Anon.

Anonymous said...

The Greens recieved almost 1800 in 2007 and recieved 900 here so it seems that 900-1000 of those votes could be greens.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't tactical voting, it was protest voting. Unionists don't vote for the SDLP in mid Ulster or West Tyrone just to get the Shinner out, so you have to put the responsibility for this defeat squarely on Ruane.

Anonymous said...

SF have been poor in defending Ruane.
The mess in education over academic selection is unionist intransigence aswell as the sdlp, who support the abolishment of acadmic selection, attacking Ruane instead of the unionist partys who refuse to even let the matter be discussed.