Mixed news for government parties in late June/early July opinion polls

The general trend in opinion polls over the last few months has been one that strongly indicated an improvement in Fianna Fail support levels and fortunes, mainly at the expense of the government parties. The latest poll from the Sunday Business Post-Red C series of opinion polls went against this trend however, pointing towards improved support levels for the two government parties as against a drop in support levels for Fianna Fail, but the latest Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll, by contrast, pointed to a continuation of this trend of improved Fianna Fail fortunes and declining support for the government parties, but especially Labour. The Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll (7th July 2013) puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings at (and relative to the  previous Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll), as follows: Fine Gael 26% (down 1%), Fianna Fail 29% (up 2%), Sinn Fein 19% (up 2%), Labour 8% (down 3%), Green Party, Independents and Others 19% (up 1%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 55, Fine Gael 48, Sinn Fein 27, Labour 4, Green Party, Independents and Others 24. The Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll (30th June 2013) puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings at (and relative to the  previous Sunday Business-Red C poll), as follows: Fine Gael 27% (down 3%), Fianna Fail 24% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 16% (up 1%), Labour 7% (NC), Green Party 3% (up 1%), Independents and Others 23% (down 2%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fine Gael 57, Fianna Fail 47, Sinn Fein 23, Labour 2, Green Party 3, Independents and Others 26.  The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (30th June 2013) puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings at (and relative to the  previous Sunday Business-Red C poll), as follows: Fine Gael 28% (up 2%), Fianna Fail 22% (down 4%), Sinn Fein 17% (up 1%), Labour 12% (up 1%), Green Party, Independents and Others 21% (NC). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fine Gael 56, Fianna Fail 39, Sinn Fein 24, Labour 15, Green Party, Independents and Others 24.

The analyses used here are similar to previous posts which have applied a constituency level analysis (although with these using the constituency units used for the 2011 General Election) based on assigning seats on the basis of constituency support estimates and simply using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats, while also taking account of the factors of vote transfers and vote splitting/management (based on vote transfer/management patterns observed in the February 2011 election). Based on such an analysis and using the new constituency units (as defined in the 2012 Constituency Commission report) - the new constituencies which will be used for the next general election (assuming an election is not called in the following months before the Electoral Act putting the new constituency configuration into effect) – these analyses estimates what party seat levels would be, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election. These analysis suggests that Fianna Fail would seem to be the party most likely to be positively effected by the redrawing of the constituency boundaries and suggests that the party, in this context, would be gaining as a result of the boundary changes, in addition to the party’s improvement in its opinion poll levels relative to its 2011 General Election figures, irrespective of the impact of a reduction in Dail seat numbers from 166 to 158. Due to unusually high/low support levels for some parties or political groupings in the previous election, the model may throw up occasional constituency predictions that are unlikely to pan out in a “real election”, but the estimates here cannot be seen as highly accurate estimates of support levels at the constituency level as in a “real election” party support changes will vary significantly across constituency given uneven geographical shifts in support levels. But the ultimate aim of the models are to get an overall, national-level, estimate of seat numbers and these are based on the proviso that an over-prediction in one constituency may be offset by an under-prediction in another constituency. I have made some further corrections to the base support figures for the different parties for this analysis to take better account of the impacts on support of the 2012 Constituency Commission report boundary changes with especial reference to the Dublin constituencies. For instance, these figures better reflect the weaker positions of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in Dublin Central after the moving out of the Ashtown area to Dublin West and the Botanic/Drumcondra area to Dublin North West, but also their stronger positions in Dublin West and Dublin North West. Fine Gael are assigned an extra seat in Dun Laoghaire on the basis that the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, will be automatically returned at the next general election and this constituency will effectively be rendered a three-seat contest at the next general election.

The constituency support estimates based on the Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll figures, when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

FF FG LB SF OTH GP
Carlow-Kilkenny 44% 26% 6% 16% 4% 3%
Cavan-Monaghan 26% 23% 2% 41% 7% 1%
Clare 36% 30% 6% 6% 20% 2%
Cork East 30% 28% 14% 22% 4% 1%
Cork North Central 25% 19% 10% 26% 17% 1%
Cork North West 41% 34% 6% 14% 4% 2%
Cork South Central 44% 23% 7% 14% 8% 3%
Cork South West 39% 35% 6% 13% 5% 2%
Donegal 26% 14% 2% 42% 15% 1%
Dublin Central 20% 11% 12% 28% 28% 2%
Dublin Mid West 21% 24% 14% 24% 14% 4%
Dublin Fingal 28% 25% 11% 6% 21% 9%
Dublin Bay North 22% 26% 13% 19% 19% 2%
Dublin North West 22% 14% 17% 37% 8% 1%
Dublin Rathdown 17% 28% 7% 5% 33% 9%
Dublin South Central 17% 16% 16% 28% 21% 2%
Dublin Bay South 21% 30% 12% 8% 21% 8%
Dublin South West 19% 23% 14% 25% 16% 3%
Dublin West 30% 21% 12% 12% 23% 2%
Dun Laoghaire 28% 29% 13% 5% 21% 5%
Galway East 30% 32% 6% 10% 22% 1%
Galway West 31% 24% 5% 11% 28% 2%
Kerry County 19% 24% 7% 21% 29% 1%
Kildare North 26% 27% 13% 11% 20% 2%
Kildare South 37% 25% 12% 12% 12% 2%
Laois 41% 24% 5% 23% 7% 0%
Offaly 36% 18% 2% 11% 33% 0%
Limerick City 38% 32% 9% 15% 6% 1%
Limerick 33% 39% 7% 7% 13% 1%
Longford-Westmeath 34% 29% 12% 15% 9% 1%
Louth 24% 21% 7% 36% 7% 5%
Mayo 29% 47% 2% 13% 9% 0%
Meath East 33% 30% 9% 17% 10% 1%
Meath West 28% 31% 5% 30% 4% 1%
Roscommon-Galway 23% 30% 4% 11% 32% 1%
Sligo-Leitrim 34% 23% 3% 29% 11% 1%
Tipperary 24% 20% 6% 10% 38% 1%
Waterford 24% 28% 8% 19% 21% 1%
Wexford 32% 25% 9% 11% 23% 1%
Wicklow 18% 29% 7% 19% 24% 2%

Based on these constituency estimates and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, the party seat levels are estimated as follows:

FF FG LB SF OTH GP
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 2 1 0 0 1 0
Cork East 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1 0
Cork North West 2 1 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork South West 2 1 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1 0
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 2 2 0 0 1 0
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin North West 1 0 0 2 0 0
Dublin Rathdown 1 1 0 0 1 0
Dublin South Central 1 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Bay South 1 2 0 0 1 0
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin West 2 1 0 0 1 0
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1 0
Galway West 2 1 0 0 2 0
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2 0
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1 0
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1 0
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 2 1 0 1 0 0
Louth 1 1 0 3 0 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1 0
Sligo-Leitrim 2 1 0 1 0 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3 0
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1 0
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1 0
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1 0
STATE 54 48 4 26 26 0

These estimates also need to take account of the candidate and competition trends unique to the different constituency. Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or lost on the basis of estimates here being based on support levels derived due to a large/small number of candidates contesting the election in 2011 or one candidate polling especially well in that election, vote transfers and vote management (e.g. discrepancies between votes won by party front runners and their running mates which would see potential seat wins fall out of a party’s hands), the seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this.

FF FG LB SF OTH GP
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 2 1 0 0 1 0
Cork East 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 2 0 0
Cork North West 2 1 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork South West 2 1 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1 0
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 2 2 0 0 1 0
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin North West 1 0 0 2 0 0
Dublin Rathdown 1 1 0 0 1 0
Dublin South Central 1 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Bay South 1 2 0 0 1 0
Dublin South West 1 1 1 2 0 0
Dublin West 2 1 0 0 1 0
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1 0
Galway West 2 1 0 0 2 0
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2 0
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1 0
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1 0
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 2 1 0 1 0 0
Louth 2 1 0 2 0 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1 0
Sligo-Leitrim 2 1 0 1 0 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3 0
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1 0
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1 0
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1 0
STATE 55 48 4 27 24 0
% seats 34.8 30.4 2.5 17.1 15.2 0.0

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 52 seats) would fall well short of the number of seats required to form a government but a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (combined seat level of 82 seats) alliance would have a more than sufficient number of seats to command a majority in Dail Eireann (need 79 seats in a 158 seat Dail) and would not need a TD from another political grouping would take on the role of Ceann Comhairle. Of course, a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government, based on these seat estimates would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 103 seats).

Given the improved support levels for Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein relative to the earlier Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll figures, the seat estimates based on this constituency-level analysis still suggest a significant improvement in Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein seat levels relative to those won by these parties and groupings in the 2011 contest (especially given that the fact that there will be eight less seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the Dail opposition since 2011. The same applies to the Independents and Others, but it is worth noting that, as opposed to the parties, the Independents and Others grouping is a very broad church and includes a range of parties, groups and individuals with very different ideological perspectives, including the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit alliance and the Green Party, as well as left-leaning independents and Fianna Fail-gene pool independents. Looking at the constituencies where this grouping is predicted to win seats in this model, it can be seen that left-leaning parties and independents would take 13 of the 24 seats being assigned to this grouping.

The seat level estimate for Labour is very stark (highlighting the fact that the PR-STV system is proportional, but only to a limited extent). Previous analyses have, moreover, suggested that, especially given the increased competition on the Left from Sinn Fein, other smaller left of centre parties and left-leaning independents, that it will be a struggle for Labour to win seats in most, if not all, constituencies if the party’s national support levels fall below the ten percent level it stands at in this latest Millward  Brown opinion polls. On this analysis, the Labour parliamentary party would consist of Tommy Broughan, Pat Rabbitte, Joanna Tuffy and Emmet Stagg, but even these would be struggling to retain their seats on these basis of these numbers – with some of the Labout seats beeing awarded on the basis of some very marginal calls, especially in the cases of Broughan and Stagg.

Labour would be in serious trouble if their national support levels fall below ten percent as the party is also facing a “perfect storm” from electoral geography and changed competition levels. These factors include the reduction in Dail seat numbers (from 166 to 158) and other changes made to general election boundaries by the 2012 Constituency Commission (which militated against Labour while seeming to advantage other parties, but notably Fianna Fail) as well as the increased competition the party now faces on the Left from Sinn Fein, other smaller left-wing parties and left-of-centre independents, as well as from Fianna Fail. When Labour support levels fell to similarly low levels in the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, the party was in a position to be helped in the 1997, 2002 and 2007 General Elections by transfers from lower placed candidates from the smaller left-wing parties, but on these figures Labour candidates would find themselves polling below candidates from Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party, the Workers and Unemployed Action Group or the People Before Profit Alliance, or left-leaning independents, in a number of constituencies. Instead of being in a position to possibly benefit from vote transfers (which themselves would be likely to dry up in any case), the Labour candidates would now in a number of cases be eliminated before the final count and would be providing the transfers to see candidates from other left-of-centre political groupings over the line. (If we look at the 1987 case study – we see Labour won 6.5% of the vote in the 1987 General Election and won 12 seats, but it is also worth noting that they did not contest nine constituencies in that election, whereas their 7% national vote is being distributed across all forty constituencies in this analysis, as with the most recent general elections in which Labour has contested all constituencies. In two of the twelve constituencies in 1987 where Labour won seats – Dublin South-Central, Dublin South-West, Galway West and Wexford – vote transfers were crucial in ensuring Labour won these these seats – i.e. Labour candidates were outside the seat positions on the first count but overtook candidates with higher first preference votes as counts progressed due to transfers from other candidates.

Constituency FPV Total Poll Quota % FPV Lab/quota
Carlow-Kilkenny          7,358          57,485          9,581 12.80 0.77
Cork South-Central          4,862          56,259          9,377 8.64 0.52
Dublin South-Central          4,701          51,692          8,616 9.09 0.55
Dublin South-East          3,480          38,270          7,655 9.09 0.45
Dublin South-West          5,065          41,454          8,291 12.22 0.61
Dun Laoghaire          6,484          55,702          9,284 11.64 0.70
Galway West          3,878          52,762          8,794 7.35 0.44
Kerry North          6,739          34,764          8,692 19.38 0.78
Kildare          7,567          53,705          8,951 14.09 0.85
Louth          6,205          46,809          9,362 13.26 0.66
Wexford          5,086          52,922          8,821 9.61 0.58
Wicklow          7,754          46,003          9,201 16.86 0.84

Voting statistics for constituencies in which Labour won seats at the 1987 General Election.

The table above shows that there was no constituency in 1987 in which a Labour candidate exceeded the quota and indeed successful Labour candidates, Ruairi Quinn and Michael D. Higgins won seats in their constituencies despite winning less than half of the quota in their first preference votes. In addition, Dick Spring came within a handful of votes of losing his seat in Kerry North.)

The changing seat numbers for the parties in the different analyses points to one reason why the Irish electoral system is not entirely one hundred percent proportional – thus underpinning the rationale behind this series of constituency level analyses of polling figures – as the manner in which constituency boundaries are drawn, or redrawn, can act to gives certain parties a significant advantage in terms of translating their vote tallies into seat wins. This knowledge, of course, formed the basis for the gerrymanders that marked the partisan boundary redrawal system which existed up to the 1977 General Election, with the party/parties in government being in a position to be able to redraw election boundaries in a manner that would allow them to pick up extra seats. In simplistic terms, in the 1960s and 1970s this amounted to the main government options seeking to create constituency units with odd-numbers of seats in the regions of the state where their support levels were highest (where a 50% share of the vote would be sufficient to allow them win 2 seats in a 3-seat constituency or 3 seats in a 5-seat constituency) and constituency units with even numbers of seats (i.e. 4-seat constituencies) where their support levels were weaker as a 40% share of the vote would be sufficient to allow them win 2 seats out of 4. Since the introduction of independent boundary commissions following the 1977 General Election, partisan influences no longer can skew the boundary drawing process in favour of a government party, or government parties, but as the example here shows a significant redrawal such as that envisaged in the 2012 Constituency Commission report will probably tend to disproportionately advantage, or disadvantage, certain parties or political groupings. Similarly, as the range of constituency level analyses prior to the 2011 General Election displayed, a party’s ability to take advantage of such disproportionality in the system, whether arising from constituency boundaries or a tendency for the Irish system to favour the larger parties, is dependent on that party maintaining its support at, or above, a certain level, as a fall in support for that party, even if relatively minimal, can lead to disproportionate level of potential seat losses if party support levels fall below a certain “tipping point”.

This concept of a “tipping point” is especially notable in the case of Fianna Fail. When the party’s support level fell below 20% in the latter part of 2010, this meant that the party – especially given its traditional catch all nature of support – was now in a position where it was struggling to win seats in a number of three-seat and four-seat constituencies, as well as five-seat constituencies in the Dublin region, where Fianna Fail support was notably weaker in 2011. The boundary changes associated with the 2012 Constituency Commission report acted to ensure the party would actually gain seats, irrespective of gains in support levels, as suggested by previous posts. With party support now over 20%, and with a very fractured political environment in which significant vote levels are being won by a number of different parties and political groupings, as opposed to the more straight-forward political landscape of the early 1980s, Fianna Fail is now in a position where it can expect to win seats in most of the larger (four and five seat) constituencies and will be competitive in most three-seat constituencies, especially in rural Ireland. This is translating into a disproportionate gain, relative to support trends, in seat levels for Fianna Fail. The level of seat gains suggested for Fianna Fail in this analysis also underpins the extent of “near misses” that the party endured in a number of constituencies at the last general election, meaning only a slight increase in support in a  number of constituencies would translate such “near misses” into seat gains, especially with the assistance of the recent boundary changes in a number of cases. Unlike Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein prospects of transforming vote gains into seat gains is stymied by the party’s weakness in certain constituencies, in which the party is likely to remain uncompetitive even if it should gain a few extra percentage points in terms of support levels. The more regional nature of the Sinn Fein support base is ideal for translating smaller levels of support into seat levels in its stronger areas, but it means the party may struggle to make the significant levels of seat gains on the basis of further increases in support that Fianna Fail could hope to make. Ultimately the political landscape of the next Dail will be determined by what levels of support these parties are standing on when the next election takes place (which could be as late as Spring 2016) but it will also be shaped by the different parties’ geographies of support, and the extent to which these support geographies might entitle these to a “bias” in terms of seat levels relative to support levels, or see the parties winning fewer seats that their support levels would suggest.

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The constituency support estimates based on the Sunday Times-Behaviour and Attitudes poll figures, when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

FF FG LB SF OTH GP
Carlow-Kilkenny 38% 29% 6% 15% 6% 6%
Cavan-Monaghan 24% 26% 2% 37% 10% 1%
Clare 29% 30% 5% 5% 26% 4%
Cork East 27% 32% 13% 20% 6% 3%
Cork North Central 22% 20% 9% 23% 23% 3%
Cork North West 36% 38% 5% 12% 5% 3%
Cork South Central 39% 25% 7% 13% 12% 5%
Cork South West 34% 38% 5% 12% 7% 4%
Donegal 23% 16% 2% 37% 20% 2%
Dublin Central 20% 15% 10% 20% 31% 4%
Dublin Mid West 18% 25% 12% 20% 18% 8%
Dublin Fingal 21% 23% 9% 4% 26% 18%
Dublin Bay North 18% 27% 11% 15% 24% 4%
Dublin North West 18% 14% 18% 38% 9% 2%
Dublin Rathdown 12% 25% 6% 4% 38% 15%
Dublin South Central 14% 17% 14% 24% 27% 4%
Dublin Bay South 15% 26% 9% 6% 31% 13%
Dublin South West 15% 24% 12% 21% 21% 6%
Dublin West 24% 21% 11% 10% 30% 3%
Dun Laoghaire 21% 28% 11% 4% 26% 9%
Galway East 24% 33% 5% 8% 28% 2%
Galway West 25% 24% 4% 9% 35% 3%
Kerry County 16% 24% 6% 17% 36% 2%
Kildare North 22% 28% 12% 10% 25% 4%
Kildare South 32% 28% 11% 11% 18% 0%
Laois 37% 27% 4% 21% 10% 0%
Offaly 29% 18% 1% 9% 43% 0%
Limerick City 32% 34% 8% 13% 13% 0%
Limerick 29% 43% 6% 6% 16% 0%
Longford-Westmeath 30% 32% 11% 13% 14% 0%
Louth 21% 23% 7% 33% 17% 0%
Mayo 24% 51% 2% 11% 12% 0%
Meath East 29% 33% 8% 15% 15% 0%
Meath West 25% 35% 5% 28% 7% 0%
Roscommon-Galway 19% 29% 4% 9% 40% 0%
Sligo-Leitrim 28% 24% 3% 25% 20% 0%
Tipperary 19% 20% 5% 8% 48% 0%
Waterford 20% 29% 7% 16% 29% 0%
Wexford 26% 26% 8% 9% 31% 0%
Wicklow 15% 30% 6% 16% 33% 0%

Based on these constituency estimates and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, the party seat levels are estimated as follows:

FF FG LB SF OTH GP
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1 0
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1 0
Dublin Mid West 1 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 1 2 0 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 2 0 1 1 0
Dublin North West 1 0 0 2 0 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2 0
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Bay South 1 1 0 0 2 0
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin West 1 1 0 0 2 0
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1 0
Galway West 2 1 0 0 2 0
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2 0
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 1 0
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 0 0 0 2 0
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 2 2 0 0 0 0
Louth 1 1 0 2 1 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 2 0
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 1 1 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3 0
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1 0
Wexford 1 2 0 0 2 0
Wicklow 1 1 0 1 2 0
STATE 43 53 2 23 36 1

These estimates also need to take account of the candidate and competition trends unique to the different constituency. Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or lost on the basis of estimates here being based on support levels derived due to a large/small number of candidates contesting the election in 2011 or one candidate polling especially well in that election, vote transfers and vote management (e.g. discrepancies between votes won by party front runners and their running mates which would see potential seat wins fall out of a party’s hands), the seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this.

FF FG LB SF OTH GP
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1 0
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1 0
Dublin Mid West 1 2 0 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 1 2 0 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 2 0 1 1 0
Dublin North West 1 0 0 2 0 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Bay South 1 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin South West 1 2 1 1 0 0
Dublin West 2 1 0 0 1 0
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1 0
Galway West 2 1 0 0 2 0
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2 0
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 1 0
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1 0
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 2 2 0 0 0 0
Louth 1 1 0 2 1 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1 0
Sligo-Leitrim 2 1 0 1 0 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3 0
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1 0
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1 0
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1 0
STATE 47 57 2 23 26 3
% seats 29.7 36.1 1.3 14.6 16.5 1.9

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 59 seats) would fall well short of the number of seats required to form a government. A Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (combined seat level of 70 seats) alliance would be somewhat closer to the number of seats needed to command a majority in Dail Eireann (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming that a Ceann Comhairle from another party/political grouping is appointed) and this alliance would need the support of at least nine TDs from another political grouping/party in order to form a government. Of course, a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government, based on these seat estimates would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 104 seats).

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The constituency support estimates based on the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll figures, when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows

FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 35% 30% 10% 16% 8%
Cavan-Monaghan 22% 27% 3% 39% 9%
Clare 28% 32% 9% 6% 25%
Cork East 23% 31% 21% 20% 6%
Cork North Central 19% 21% 16% 24% 20%
Cork North West 33% 39% 9% 13% 6%
Cork South Central 36% 26% 12% 14% 13%
Cork South West 31% 39% 9% 13% 8%
Donegal 21% 16% 4% 40% 18%
Dublin Central 15% 12% 17% 25% 32%
Dublin Mid West 16% 25% 20% 20% 19%
Dublin Fingal 20% 26% 17% 5% 32%
Dublin Bay North 16% 27% 19% 16% 22%
Dublin North West 17% 15% 26% 33% 10%
Dublin Rathdown 12% 29% 11% 5% 43%
Dublin South Central 12% 17% 23% 24% 24%
Dublin Bay South 15% 30% 17% 7% 30%
Dublin South West 14% 24% 21% 22% 20%
Dublin West 23% 22% 18% 11% 26%
Dun Laoghaire 20% 29% 19% 4% 27%
Galway East 23% 35% 9% 9% 25%
Galway West 24% 26% 7% 10% 33%
Kerry County 15% 26% 10% 18% 32%
Kildare North 19% 28% 19% 10% 23%
Kildare South 29% 28% 18% 11% 15%
Laois 34% 28% 8% 22% 8%
Offaly 28% 20% 3% 10% 39%
Limerick City 30% 35% 14% 14% 8%
Limerick 26% 42% 10% 7% 16%
Longford-Westmeath 26% 32% 18% 13% 11%
Louth 19% 23% 11% 34% 14%
Mayo 22% 52% 3% 12% 11%
Meath East 26% 33% 14% 15% 12%
Meath West 22% 35% 8% 28% 6%
Roscommon-Galway 18% 32% 6% 10% 35%
Sligo-Leitrim 27% 26% 5% 28% 14%
Tipperary 18% 21% 9% 9% 42%
Waterford 18% 30% 12% 17% 24%
Wexford 24% 27% 13% 10% 26%
Wicklow 13% 31% 11% 17% 28%

Based on these constituency estimates and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, the party seat levels are estimated as follows:

FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1
Dublin Central 0 0 1 1 1
Dublin Mid West 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 0 2 1 0 1
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 1 0
Louth 1 1 0 2 1
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 1 2 0 0 2
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 38 53 12 24 31

These estimates also need to take account of the candidate and competition trends unique to the different constituency. Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or lost on the basis of estimates here being based on support levels derived due to a large/small number of candidates contesting the election in 2011 or one candidate polling especially well in that election, vote transfers and vote management (e.g. discrepancies between votes won by party front runners and their running mates which would see potential seat wins fall out of a party’s hands), the seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this.

FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1
Dublin Central 0 0 1 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 2 0 0 1
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 0 2 1 0 1
Dublin South West 1 2 1 1 0
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1 0 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 1 0
Louth 1 2 0 2 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 1 2 1 0 1
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 39 56 15 24 24
% seats 24.7 35.4 9.5 15.2 15.2

Based on these seat estimates, neither a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 71 seats) nor a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (combined seat level of 63 seats) alliance would have a sufficient number of seats to command a bare majority (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming a TD from another political grouping would take on the role of Ceann Comhairle). Either coalition option would require the support of a significant number of Independent/Smaller Party TDs to have a sufficient number of seats to have a majority in the Dail. Of course, a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government, based on these seat estimates would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 95 seats).

Despite the declining support levels for Fianna Fail relative to the earlier Sunday Business Post-Red C poll figures, the seat estimates based on this constituency-level analysis still suggest a significant improvement in Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein seat levels relative to those won by these parties and groupings in the 2011 contest (especially given that the fact that there will be eight less seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the Dail opposition since 2011. The same applies to the Independents and Others, but it is worth noting that, as opposed to the parties, the Independents and Others grouping is a very broad church and includes a range of parties, groups and individuals with very different ideological perspectives, including the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit alliance and the Green Party, as well as left-leaning independents and Fianna Fail-gene pool independents. Looking at the constituencies where this grouping is predicted to win seats in this model, it can be seen that left-leaning parties and independents would take 12 of the 24 seats being assigned to this grouping.

The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll figures do offer some comfort to the government parties as evident in an increase in support by a combined level of three percentage points relative to the previous such poll. The relative stabilising of support levels for the government parties around the high 30s/low 40s level in the most recent Red C polls points towards the possible return of the government parties to power, albeit with a very much reduced, and indeed very narrow, majority, should these support levels be improved on further by a few percentage points at an actual general election.

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2 thoughts on “Mixed news for government parties in late June/early July opinion polls

  1. I was wondering why your analysis briefly considered an FF-SF coalition that would not have a majority on your figures, but did not mention an FG-SF coalition despite its having a majority on your figures. Is it because you consider FF-SF ‘thinkable’ but FG-SF ‘unthinkable’? And, if so, why? Might I point out that historically it is FG that has gone into coalition with alleged ‘hardliners/pariahs’ such as Clann na Poblachta in 1948 and Democratic Left in 1994. On your figures an FF-FG coalition would suit SF by making it the official Opposition which is why FF and FG can be expected to do all in their power to avoid it.

  2. I suspect that Sinn Fein support will drop in the run in to the general election. It is likely to leak to FF, Labour and hard left as many voters are still wary of the party.

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