How to predict the result of an Irish election

2012consts-752x501By Michael Gallagher

Election campaigns feature extensive, some would say excessive, discussion of the horse-race aspects: in short, how many seats will the parties win? Until the votes are cast and counted, all we have to go on are the findings from opinion polls, and the challenge is to make accurate seat predictions from these.

One issue is the accuracy of the polls themselves, an issue highlighted by shortcomings shown up in the British election last May. This is an interesting subject in itself, but for the moment the question is how confident we could be, even if we knew for certain exactly how many votes each of the parties will win on 27 February, about being able to predict seat numbers.

Basically, there are two broad approaches to this:

(i) make predictions for every constituency and aggregate the totals;

(ii) make national-level seat predictions from national-level vote shares.

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Irish Polling Indicator: too soon to cheer for Fianna Fáil


Two new polls were hailed as good news for Fianna Fáil this weekend. A Red C poll put the party up 2 points to 19 per cent, while B&A put the party up 1 point to 20 per cent. In fact, neither change is statistically significant on its own – with the December poll of Red C seemingly an ‘outlier’ on the low side (see below). Even if we combine all of the polls, as the Irish Polling Indicator does, we find no change in support: Fianna Fáil remains stable at 20 per cent. Support for Micheál Martin’s party has not been statistically significantly different from current levels since May 2014. Continue reading

Irish Polling Indicator: good autumn for Fine Gael


Estimated party support with shaded 95% uncertainty margins

Fine Gael has strengthened its position in the polls over the last few months. At 29% it polls about 3% higher than in July of this year. Independents and small parties went down, however, from 27% to 22% over the same period of time. These are the most important findings from the new Irish Polling Indicator, which aggregates all available opinion polls. Continue reading

Irish Polling Indicator: Government parties bounce back a bit


Irish Polling Indicator (2012-now) showing estimates of party support with a 95% uncertainty interval

The first quarter of 2015 has seen a moderate bounce in the polls for the government coalition parties. Fine Gael was at a 22% low in December, now finds itself at 25%. Labour rose from 6% to 8% in the same time. This pattern emerges from the Irish Polling Indicator, which combines all national election polls to one estimate of the parties’ standing in the polls.

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Government parties gain, independents fall in Irish Polling Indicator


Irish Polling Indicator, update 21 September 2014 Lines display estimates per party, shaded areas indicate 95% uncertainty margins

Fine Gael and Labour show increased popularity in opinion polls in the last months, the Irish Polling Indicator shows. Fine Gael is now on 26% with Labour at 8%, which represents a 3 percentage point increase for both parties compared to early June. Independents, meanwhile, have seen their support drop from 27% early June to 23% now. Sinn Féin support is now estimated at 22% and Fianna Faíl at 19%; neither party shows a significant change in support over the summer.

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Your cut-out-and-keep guide to #indyref night

Independence Posters Seen Throughout Scotland

Want to work out the outcome of the referendum before all of the results are in? Dr. Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia, shows how the outcome will be predictable from the early declarations. This handy guide first appeared on

It’s 10pm on Thursday 18th September. The polls in the Scottish independence referendum have just closed. You’re anxious to know whether Scots have voted for independence — but you’d like to know before 6:30 the next morning. (Maybe you have some large foreign currency trades to execute).

Thankfully, using our handy cut-out-and-keep guide to each local authority area, you can start making informed guesses about the likely outcome as soon as the first partial results come in. Continue reading

Love’s Labour Not Entirely Lost?: Constituency-level analysis of the Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll (17th August 2014)

Adrian Kavanagh, 16th August 2014 

The latest in the series of Behaviour & Attitudes polls has brought good news for the Labour Party after a long period of dismal results in previous such opinion polls. The Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll of August 16th 2014, estimates party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll): Fine Gael 24% (down 2%), Sinn Fein 19% (down 2%), Fianna Fail 18% (down 1%), Labour Party 14% (up 7%), Green Party 2% (NC), Independents and Others 20% (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: Fianna Fail 31, Fine Gael 46, Sinn Fein 28, Labour Party 21, Green Party 1, Independents and Others 31. Continue reading