West Tyrone election statistics show the importance of turnout and transfers

News Letter editorial on Tuesday May 3 2022:

By Editorial
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 1:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 5:25 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

West Tyrone is one of our constituency profiles today (see link below).

The Traditional Unionist Voice party believe that they can win a seat there in Thursday’s assembly election.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists seem not to think that is likely.

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Within days we will discover who is right about that.

But there is another statistic in that electoral area that should be of interest to unionists everywhere:

The combined unionist vote is around 30%. That, in a purely decided system of proportional representation, would lead to unionists getting 1.5 of the 5 constituency MLA positions. Obviously such a breakdown is impossible, so the great likelihood is either that nationalists/republicans will get four seats and unionists one, or that the breakdown will be three/two. There are other possibilities such as nationalists/republicans getting two seats, Alliance one, and unionists one.

But in the last election, the combined nationalist/republican vote was 62% of first preference ballots cast, and yet such candidates got 80% of the seats (four out of five).

Something similar has happened in other constituencies too. In South Down, the combined nationalist/republican vote is 64% of the total and yet there they also get 80% of the seats (again, four out of five). In South Down, the unionist vote is approaching 30%.

These statistics illustrate graphically the importance of a large turnout for unionist candidates . Also the importance of voting down the ballot paper. In West Tyrone an overall unionist vote of a few points higher, say 33%, when combined with exhaustive use of transfers could clinch a second seat.

Also, after backing unionist candidates voters should seriously consider going further. By doing so they might in some constituencies help an SDLP, Alliance or other candidate take a late seat at the expense of SF.

That party’s attempt to get Saoradh support for a border poll shows how important it is to try to reduce SF influence in the coming Stormont parliament.

Election 2022: West Tyrone is a key hope for Jim Allister’s party