Constituency Profile: Strangford
In Strangford, the only race worth watching will be the one for second place.
The DUP vote may have dropped from the days of Iris Robinson when it topped 20,000, but in 2015 outgoing MP Jim Shannon romped home with almost 15,000 votes — a healthy 5,876 votes ahead of nearest rival, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Mike Nesbitt.
With Mr Shannon likely to win again, the UUP will be hoping the recent sensational pictures in which Mr Nesbitt was sprawled across the foyer floor of the Stormont Hotel will not have caused significant damage to his vote.
The danger for the UUP is if this has made an impact then it could allow the Alliance Party’s Kellie Armstrong to overtake Mr Nesbitt to snatch second place.
Ms Armstrong performed strongly in the Assembly election in March, increasing her vote from 3,499 in the Stormont poll last year to 5,813 in just 12 months. However, with the UUP’s overall share of the vote in March ahead of Alliance by 7,776 votes to 5,813, it remains a big ask for Alliance.
At the last Westminster election in 2015 then Conservative candidate Johnny Andrews performed respectably with 2,167 votes. It is unclear whether Claire Hiscott could repeat or improve upon this next month.
Meanwhile, Strangford remains a tough proposition for the nationalist parties, with the SDLP’s Joe Boyle usually breaking the 2,000 vote mark while Sinn Fein struggle to get over 1,000. The Green Party’s Ricky Bamford is also likely to struggle in the centre ground against a strong Alliance vote.
Kellie Armstrong, Alliance
Ricky Bamford, Green Party
Joe Boyle, SDLP
Claire Hiscott, Conservatives
Carole Murphy, Sinn Fein
Mike Nesbitt, UUP
Jim Shannon, DUP