All the parties will take some heart from Mid Ulster, the by-election with one winner but no real losers.
Sinn Fein will take the win, albeit with a vote down by just
over 5% for the new MP Francie Molloy. His predecessor Martin McGuinness
blamed complacency in his party's voters because the media wrote off
The unionist parties believe the controversial plan to stand
aside and back an agreed candidate, in Nigel Lutton, worked - increasing
the combined unionist vote to just over 34%.
Although he came third, the SDLP's Patsy McGlone succeeded in increasing his party's actual vote in a reduced overall poll.
And in the Alliance's first election since the flag row began, Eric Bullick increased its vote from 397 to 487.
Francis Joseph Molloy (SF) 17,462
David Thomas Nigel Lutton (Ind) 12,781
Patrick Joseph McGlone (SDLP) 6,478
Eric Herbert Anton Bullick (APNI) 487