Today’s Irish Times/Ipsos poll

More polls than you can shake a stick at.

What do they all mean?

Shane Heneghan writes:

You wait a few days for a poll and then four of them come along all at once on a weekend. Dramatically enough, a B&A poll was leaked early showing Labour at 4%. The party’s analysis that this poll is “an outlier” probably rings true – no poll has yet seen them near that low. But this soon to polling it may prove to be a bit of self fulfilling prophecy and drag Labour down after  a sclerotic campaign.

There seems to be a steady climb for Fianna Fail who are now comfortable in the mid 20s. This coupled with the inability of the current coalition to reach a majority would make an ara-sure-it’s-grand-coalition between the two civil war parties considerably more likely as it would be more possible for Fianna Fail to make a deal with the blueshirts as equal(ish) partners.

All polls seem to point to a high vote for smaller parties and groups, if this is replicated on polling day will be important not because they may win more seats (though they might) but because of what happens to their votes when they are eliminated.

Given the very high level of support for small parties that don’t really stand a chance in a lot of constituencies they are standing in, data on where 2nd preferences might go is needed more than ever. For example, would Social Democrat voters (3-4% nationally) be inclined to transfer to the Greens (4%) thus perhaps putting them into contention in some unlikely areas? Or vice-versa.

Two out of four polls out this weekend show Fine Gael on 30%. Across the four of them we see the two coalition parties on an average of 35%. Sinn Fein seem to have peaked in the mid to high teens. Which may be disappointing for them. They have struggled with transfers in the past and the PRSTV system is very hard on a ‘Marmite’ party like theirs.

Of more interest at this stage is the emergence of various constituency level polls including, but not limited to, the series conducted by TG4 that’s concentrating on Gaeltacht areas.

Their poll in Kerry shows the Healy-Ray brothers as uncrowned kings of the kingdom on a combined total of 37%. It has particularly alarming results for Sinn Fein’s Martin Ferris, one of the parties big household names of the past few decades, on a mere 8% and just barely in contention for a seat.

The Shinners will be relieved to see they are on track for two seats in Donegal. Similarly, a poll in Mayo shows Fine Gael in the running for an astonishing three out of four seats.

The weekend’s Irish Times poll shows a huge change in support amongst farmers. At the start of the campaign Fianna Fail had a strong lead now Fine Gael has a commanding 47% of their support and this may figure in rural constituencies.

Another astounding figure from the same poll shows 41% of voters in greater Dublin will not vote for any of the main four parties.

The main take away from these results is that there are wild deviations from national polls at local level. The old maxim that this is really forty very separate local elections rather than a general election may be ringing true.

Irish elections have a habit of sorting themselves out in the last seven days or so. Bertie pulled it out of the fire in 2007 and Dick Spring sprang (see what I did there) to 19% in 1992.

Shane Heneghan is a Galway-based psephologist.

38 thoughts on “Polltergeist

  1. Michael

    I still find it difficult to believe that people support FF or FG after that leaders debate. A depressing snapshot of the state of Irish politics.

    1. 15 cents

      yea, it’s unreal. Both have the majority support. i think it must be people saying FF or FG because their local guy is part of one of those parties .. and sure he fixed the roads etc. .. thats what i think the problem is, easy for someone to gain local popularity, but then they go on to be in charge of the countries affairs and the rest of us are effected by the decisions of some fool

  2. phil

    It would be great if Broadsheet could do a bit on tactical voting , I my constituency there are 2 candidates Id like to vote for , but tactically Im not sure who to give my #1 to , I guess the #1 should go to the candidate that is less likely to win and the #2 to the candidate that has a better chance. Is my thinking sound ?

    1. ahyeah

      Unless you can persuade around 1,000 neighbours to vote similarly, it won’t matter whether you even bother voting.

    2. LW

      Phil, as I understand it, it depends a bit on their individual chances. If A is likely to be elected before B is eliminated, then vote A 1st and B 2nd, as your second preference might go to B. If B is likely to be eliminated before A, then B’s seconds could be sent to A. If neither are a very strong candidate, go for the one you prefer. Strength in terms of how likely they are to get in, I mean, not how much they can bench. There’s a truth to what ahyeah says too though

    3. rotide

      Vote for who you would like to get elected.

      Give your second preference to who you would like to see elected if your first choice fails to get in.

      Give your third preference to who you would like to see elected if your first and second choice fails to get in.

      It’s not rocket science Phil.

      1. SB

        Except if the preferred candidate gets twice the quota, then the excess transfers may not include Phil’s ballot paper. Presumably the preference would be to have BOTH of them elected, and thus I would agree with the strategy of voting for the weaker candidate #1 and the other #2

  3. Pablo Pistachio

    Sure FF & FG are one and the same these days. The ‘what’s in it for me’ parties. Why wouldn’t they jump into bed together.
    Leaving Sinn Fein as the largest opposition party. Interesting times ahead.

    1. Steve

      Sorry , pour the hate all over FG and FF all ye want but please don’t be as naive as to think SF are some holy-joe party.

      Note : Voters , in the vast vast majority, vote on the basis of their own interest. SF voters, who are largely a different demographic to FF and FG also vote on the basis of “what’s in it for me”. I’m not saying this way of thinking is right , just pointing out an obvious feature . And the what’s in it for me of SF policies doesn’t appeal to every voter in Ireland.

  4. Fergus the magic postman

    I’ve spoken to adults, with families & children, the lot, who depend on RTE TV for all they need to know election wise, & aren’t all that interested anyway. They don’t know/ understand that there is any alternative to FG/ FF/ Labour/ SF, but ultimately think you’re either FG or FF.
    I don’t think it’s uncommon, for a lot of middle aged people from rural areas to be pretty ignorant about what’s at stake, & what their options are. There’s a certain apathy there.

    1. Owen C

      I’d be careful about labeling people as ignorant of whats at stake. Blinkered perhaps, conservative certainly, but its somewhat insulting to casually suggest a broad portion of the electorate is ignorant to political choices. Lots of people simply view politics as a more local issue and not a national one. PBP-AAA don’t necessarily appeal very much to middle aged rural voters – thats the PBP-AAA’s problem, not the rural voters’.

        1. Fergus the magic postman

          Also, there are a large number of people who are not internet savvy and are depending on RTE television to be informed. RTE are not exactly impartial when it comes to informing people, as demonstrated as recently as the weekend.

          1. Owen C

            “There are a large number of people who are not internet savvy”

            Jesus dude, you really do seem to have the idea that rural middle aged people are living in some sort of 1960s timewarp.

          2. rotide

            Translation “These people don’t read broadsheet are only left with the entirety of the news media in this country, which is obviously all biased because i say so and thus are unlikely to vote the wrong way”

    2. Harry Molloy

      Pretty arrogant and condescending view of your country cousins there.

      Being from the shticks I can tell you it’s crap, if a person has a thirst for knowledge they will find it. Of hey only want to rely on rte for their news then that’s what they’ll do, whether from Dublin or Doolin.

      People are smart and make their decisions with good reason which is usually self interest whether you’re voting fg or aaa

    3. Medium Sized C

      I was talking to someone who was canvassing to Stephen Donnelly and a voter on a doorstep said “sure isn’t he with that Paul Murphy eejit”.

        1. classter

          I like Donnelly and I am very cautiously hopeful about the SocDems but Donnelly has played a tricky/careful game of political positioning.

          This can work well for an opposition politician but the risk is that if you try to be too cute, the public will decide how to define you.

          I reckon I could draw quite a clear line between Donnelly & Murphy but I can certainly understand why some voters (especially those who are particuarly wary of the far-left, which Murphy undoubtedly is) might be less sure.

    4. Cathy

      It is rural voters (or anyone’s) problem if they vote FG/FF out of self interest rather than voting for real change and a progressive society. People who vote for FG, LAB, FF, or Renua are either not too sharp and/or willfully ignorant.

      1. classter

        Rural voters have long had their perceived desires accommodated to an extent that urban constituencies could only dream of. A big part of the reason for this is their strong & consistent support for FF & FG.

        ‘real change and a progressive socierty’ might mean a govt which spent less money in rural/suburban middle Ireland & more in working class urban districts. It might mean a govt which pushed for the EU to divert money from CAP into more worthwhile destinations.

      2. classter

        ‘People who vote for FG, LAB, FF, or Renua are either not too sharp and/or willfully ignorant.’

        Seriously? So, unless one supports a majority SF govt (currently the only feasible alternative to the options you have ruled out) one is thick?

        Or do you envisage some unwhipped coalition of independents?

  5. ollie

    “At a rally of the party faithful in Castlebar on Saturday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described local people who were constantly bemoaning the lack of economic activity in Mayo, his native, county as “whingers”.
    These people are All-Ireland champions when it comes to whingeing”, Mr Kenny said.
    They refused to recognise that Castlebar was benefitting from economic recovery, he added. ”
    In a questions and answers session with reporters after his speech, the Taoiseach was specifically asked who he was referring to his in comments about “whingers”.

    “Locals”, he replied. “Nothing to do with national politics at all.

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