Some NI election stats to consider

Voting in Northern Ireland
Voting in Northern Ireland

The election experts such as Nicholas Whyte and Bill White agree that only one seat in Northern Ireland is likely to change hands.

Yet it might also be a liklihood that more than one seat will change hands.

How can those seemingly contradictory scenarios both be likely?

Well, as follows: East Belfast is the only seat that is widely predicted to change between the parties, in a return to the DUP (Alliance is battling mightily to prevent that).

But five other seats are close.

While each of those other five seats, when considered individually, is expected to stay with the party that won in 2010, their leads are – to varying degrees – narrow.

It may then be that combining the probability overall of those seats means that it can be expected that at least one of the five will defy predictions and switch hands.

Those marginal seats, in roughly descending level of tightness, are East Belfast; South Antrim; Upper Bann; Fermanagh & S.Tyrone; South Belfast; North Belfast.

It will be surprising if any other seat changes hands.

Unionists are talking up Newry & Armagh but a Danny Kennedy win depends on an improbable evenly split nationalist vote in an area where Sinn Fein is now popular.

The most vulnerable of the ‘safe’ 12 seats may in fact be the two SDLP ones (to Sinn Fein).

A statistic to watch is South Belfast, which could break the record for the smallest vote share of a winning MP in a UK election, held by Russell Johnston (Lib Dem), who won Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber in 1992 with 26 per cent.

Alasdair McDonnell is the favourite to hold on, but if so he is unlikely to get more than a third of the vote.

The field is so split, with multiple candidates who can expect a strong vote, that a win is possible with a percentage vote in the 20s.