Ukip man Noel Jordan, who performed well in East Antrim in 2016, said that it looks like his vote is “slightly down” on the last election as counters continue to tally up the votes in the constituency.
Nonetheless it is “early days” and he is “quietly confident”, but he said last year he suffered from a lack of transfer votes – and DUP candidate Alistair Ross (who got only around 100 more first-preferences than Mr Jordan) beat him to a seat.
Asked what kind of vote he would consider a failure, he said: “We’re not looking at failures... But we’ll be disappointed if our vote drops. We’d like to maintain where we are, because we’re trying to build – and to build we need to be consistent.”
The has only ever been one Ukip MLA in the Province, David McNarry, who was elected as a UUP man and then defected. He is no longer in post, having declined to contest the last election.
Asked whether the party might launch some kind of shake-up if it still fails to gain a seat this time around, Mr Jordan said: “We’ve had David McNarry, we’ve had our Stormont seat. That’s gone. We’re realists now.”
He said the party aims to build from the “bottom up”, and is looking at “suitable candidates” whom they can train, with a hope of getting “into the communities”.