The Ulster Unionist Party's Tom Elliott is likely to lose his Fermanagh South Tyrone seat at Westminster, research from Lucid Talk has shown.
That is set to be the only change from the 2015 election following next month's snap General Election. The Belfast based company has used its computer systems based NI Westminster Election Seat Predictor model (last used very successfully for the GE 2015).
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So what does the model currently show (see table below).
Interestingly, the model previously predicted (i.e. before the results from this poll were inputted into the model) that Sinn Fein and the UUP were exactly equal at 50% each for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat – However, now Sinn Fein have gone back up again to 55% and have become, once again, the slight favourites to regain this seat from the UUP. For this seat i.e. Fermanagh and South Tyrone the Unionists are running one agreed candidate (i.e. Tom Elliott for the UUP) with the support of the DUP. We see after this polls results were inputted into the model that the Sinn Fein chances in this seat have now gone up slightly to 55% - but basically this means the UUP and Sinn Fein are both on a knife-edge as to who will win this seat.
This move back up again to 55% for Sinn Fein chance is not surprising, taking into account that our recent 2017 pre NI Assembly election polls, and the NI Assembly election itself, all showed and produced a strong Sinn Fein performance. Remember the data from our polls and the recent elections are the key inputs into our computer-based seat predictor model. However, this rating may change again after our 3rd and final pre-election poll. Perhaps what’s keeping the Sinn Fein rating for this seat at ‘only’ 55% is that we also have a weighting built-in to our predictor model which favours the outgoing MPs – these outgoing MPs (in this case the UUP's Tom Elliott) always have an advantage in Westminster first-past-the-post elections.
East Belfast is showing as a DUP hold, but now at a probability of only 60% - down 5% from the last run of our predictor model. This is again lower than expected for an outgoing MP (Gavin Robinson) and for someone from NI’s largest party. However, the model has probably been impacted by the Alliance Party’s strong showing in the recent 2017 NI Assembly election and in recent LT polls. Alliance are the main challengers for this seat with their party leader Naomi Long the candidate – a 60% DUP win is by no means certain, and it’s significant that this has dropped from 65%. We’ll see what the last run of our seat predictor model says for this seat at the start of June.
Similarly, Alasdair McDonnell, who is defending the marginal South Belfast constituency for the SDLP, comes in at 60% probability, which is down 5% from his 65% score in the last seat predictor model, reflecting how tight this seat may be in the end, with strong challenges to the SDLP from both the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Foyle and South Down also show drops for the SDLP reflecting that they are being seriously challenged in these seats by Sinn Fein, particularly in South Down where the drop a chunky 15% from our last seat predictor model run. However, the SDLP still remain the slight favourites to hold both these seats, but may have to depend on some Unionist tactical voting.
The UUP have dropped a sizable 15% in South Antrim from 75% (last seat predictor model) to 60%, showing that Danny Kinahan (who is defending this seat for the UUP) is facing a strong challenge from the DUPs Paul Girvan. However, Kinahan still is the slight favourite here, helped also be the fact that he’s the out going MP (always an advantage). But again it will be key to see what the model says about this seat in the last pre-election run of the seat predictor model at the start of June – Kinahan can’t afford this 60% score to drop any further.
Not surprisingly, 10 of the 18 seats are showing win-probability scores of 100% for the named political party e.g. North Antrim for the DUP, West Belfast for Sinn Fein etc. Unless something dramatic happens we don’t see these scores changing for any of these 10 seats.
Our next, and final pre-election seat predictor run will be published 5th-6th June i.e. 2-3 days before the actual election.
This computer based predictor model used by Lucid Talk is constantly being improved and enhanced, and we’re again hopeful that it will be able to closely predict this upcoming Westminster election in NI.
The model uses the last three major NI election results: UK (NI) General Election 2015, and the NI Assembly Elections 2016 and 2017, and also the most recent LT polling (i.e. this poll), as data input to the model.
The model also considers and weighs-in factors such as the outgoing MP, and what poll participants believe will be the results in each seat (i.e. apart from what way they will be voting themselves in their own seat) i.e. our ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ poll question.
The model then predicts the likelihood in % terms, of seats being won by the various parties, broken down by the 18 Westminster constituencies. We’ve run the model, using the 3 most recent NI elections and LT polls (as per above), and it generated the results shown in the enclosed table (see above). This is our ‘Version 2 – Poll 2’ table, and we will re-run the seat predictor model again after the last pre-Westminster election poll – 1st to 3rd June (i.e. using that polls data as the main input to the model) – this will enable tracking of trends up or down for each of the political parties in each of the 18 NI Westminster constituencies as the campaign progresses. Comparisons are shown against our ‘Poll 1 Table’ (published 2nd May – see LT website for report). As such, the seat predictor model should get ‘more accurate’, and up-to-date, as the campaign progresses, as it will be using/analysing the latest poll data.
Bill White, is Managing Director of Belfast based LucidTalk Polling and Market Research. You can follow LucidTalk on Twitter at @LucidTalk.