Irish Times Ispos-MRBI poll (September): Seat estimates

Adrian Kavanagh, 29 September 2010

Irish Times Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll September 30:

FF 24 (+3).

FG 24 (-3),

Lab 33 (+4),

Greens 2 (-2),

SF 8 (-2),

Others 9 (nc)

Core vote (before undecided voters are excluded): Fianna Fáil 19  (+3); Fine Gael 20 (-1); Labour 27 (+5); Sinn Féin 6 (-2); Green Party 2 (-1); Independents/Others 8 (+1); Undecided voters 18 per cent (+5).

Brian Cowen, FF: 19 (+1), Enda Kenny, FG 25 (+1), Eamon Gilmore, Lab 49 (+3), John Gormley, GP 18 (-3),  Gerry Adams, SF 29 (-2).

On those poll figures, my analysis based on calculating constituency estimates of party support estimates the following number of seats for the different parties : Fianna Fail 49, Fine Gael 42, Labour 61, Green Party 0, Sinn Fein 6, Indepedents and Other Small Parties 8

If this analysis is amended to take account of the pattern of support change in the Spring Tide election of 1992  (i.e. geography of support gains/losses by Labour/Fianna Fail and Fine Gael between the 1989 and 1992 general elections) the seat estimates remain largely the same, although there are noticeable differences in terms of the constituencies themselves : Fianna Fail 47, Fine Gael 42, Labour 62, Green Party 0, Sinn Fein 5, Indepedents and Other Small Parties 10.

These figures are based on a model that takes the 2007 support figures for the different political parties/groupings as the base from which the levels of support change indicated by these poll figures can be used to calculate constiutency estimates of party support for each of the 43 Dail constituencies. Personnel changes between the different parties/groupings can be further factored into to refine these figure. For instance refining the analysis to factor in the moves of former independents, Beverly Flynn to Fianna Fail (Mayo), Derek Keating to Fine Gael (Dublin Mid West), and Jerry Cowley(Mayo) and John Kelly (Roscommon-South Leitrim) to Labour, means that the numbers of Independent/Others seats allotted by the model would be depleted by two, with Labour gaining two extra seats. While Fine Gael would pick up an extra seat in Dublin Mid West based on this refined model, the would lose one of the two seats allocated to the party in Roscommon-South Leitrim. Similarly if the votes won in 2007 by former Fianna Fail TDs, Joe Behan (Wicklow) and Mattie McGrath (Tipperary South) are now factored into the Independents and Others base figures, the one seat allocated to Fianna Fail in both of these constituencies by the analysis would now go instead to Independents.

As a model, this is limited in terms of its predictive power as it cannot take sufficient account of local factors operating within constituencies (which can help certain politicians resist overwhelming national trends operating against their parties, as happened with Willie Penrose (LB) in 1997 and Paul McGrath (FG) in 2002, both in the old Westmeath general election constituency) or changes in party personnel locally. It cannot take account of constituency boundary changes – a factor that one would expect to have some bearing on the results in the constituencies particularly affected by the 2007 Constituency Commission report – although if tally figures were available for the constituencies affected it would be possible to recreate 2007GE support figures for the different parties for the new constituencies and base the analyis (and constituency estimates) on these instead.  Of course voter turnout is the silent elephant in the room – as a factor, this will have a bearing on how poll figures translate into actual results on election party, particularly if those claiming to support a certain party show a greater/lesser propensity to turn out to vote on election day than those claiming to support other parties.

One interesting point to note here is the fact that the analysis predicts that, even on the same level of support, Fianna Fail would win 7 more seats than Fine Gael would. The catch-all nature of Fianna Fail support in geographical terms offers that party an advantage over Fine Gael, a party that suffers from lower levels of support in urban Ireland and especially Dublin where, on the basis of these figures, the party would struggle to surpass their disappointing 2002 result in the Capital in terms of Dail seats won.

On the basis of these figures, the combined number of Left seats in the Dail would be well over 7o, including the seats to be won by Labour and Sinn Fein, in addition to two seats for the Socialist Party (Higgins and Daly) and seats for left-leaning independents (O’Sullivan, Collins, Healy). leaving the prospect of a Socialist government in Ireland to be considered as a distinct possibility for the first time, perhaps, since the late 1960s. On the other hand, the combined number of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael seats would stand at 91; the lowest combined level of support ever won by the two main parties (at just 54.8% of the total number of Dail seats) in the history of the state. The number of seats won by either of these parties would be such that they would be very much the junior partner in a coalition government with Labour – could such a prospect push both parties together and end civil war politics once and for all?

Constituency support estimates and seat allocations based on these analysis of these poll figures as follows:

FF FG LB GP SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 30.0% 28.3% 33.2% 3.7% 4.8% 0.0% 100.0%
Cavan-Monaghan 25.3% 31.8% 4.6% 1.8% 26.8% 9.7% 100.0%
Clare 31.7% 38.6% 6.4% 2.7% 4.9% 15.7% 100.0%
Cork East 17.3% 21.3% 53.7% 1.0% 6.2% 0.6% 100.0%
Cork North Central 18.2% 21.4% 35.5% 1.3% 8.3% 15.2% 100.0%
Cork North West 37.4% 41.2% 19.5% 1.9% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0%
Cork South Central 27.6% 26.9% 32.5% 3.8% 6.4% 2.7% 100.0%
Cork South West 25.5% 32.8% 32.6% 3.0% 6.1% 0.0% 100.0%
Donegal North East 34.4% 23.5% 7.0% 0.7% 23.9% 10.5% 100.0%
Donegal South West 34.4% 23.8% 10.7% 0.7% 28.8% 1.6% 100.0%
Dublin Central 22.8% 7.4% 36.4% 2.2% 9.4% 21.7% 100.0%
Dublin Mid West 19.8% 11.0% 37.0% 4.8% 11.1% 16.3% 100.0%
Dublin North 25.6% 13.0% 33.0% 7.5% 3.2% 17.7% 100.0%
Dublin North Central 26.1% 23.0% 24.3% 2.3% 4.5% 19.8% 100.0%
Dublin North East 20.7% 18.2% 44.6% 2.6% 13.9% 0.0% 100.0%
Dublin North West 22.4% 7.0% 52.6% 0.9% 14.4% 2.6% 100.0%
Dublin South 26.4% 26.5% 37.6% 5.2% 3.8% 0.4% 100.0%
Dublin South Central 14.3% 9.5% 51.7% 1.9% 8.8% 13.8% 100.0%
Dublin South East 15.9% 15.7% 52.0% 5.7% 5.2% 5.5% 100.0%
Dublin South West 17.8% 13.8% 51.1% 1.2% 11.0% 5.1% 100.0%
Dublin West 17.7% 14.6% 45.4% 1.3% 4.5% 16.5% 100.0%
Dun Laoghaire 18.2% 18.7% 47.0% 3.0% 2.3% 10.9% 100.0%
Galway East 28.1% 42.2% 12.5% 1.0% 4.5% 11.7% 100.0%
Galway West 23.7% 19.8% 39.8% 2.6% 3.8% 10.3% 100.0%
Kerry North-West Limerick 16.3% 25.6% 32.1% 0.7% 21.3% 3.9% 100.0%
Kerry South 20.4% 19.1% 38.2% 0.7% 3.5% 18.1% 100.0%
Kildare North 19.0% 15.5% 47.4% 1.7% 2.3% 13.9% 100.0%
Kildare South 25.1% 13.0% 58.2% 2.3% 0.0% 1.4% 100.0%
Laois-Offaly 44.6% 32.9% 10.6% 0.7% 8.1% 3.2% 100.0%
Limerick City 30.4% 24.2% 36.3% 1.2% 5.2% 2.7% 100.0%
Limerick 33.4% 42.9% 22.5% 1.2% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0%
Longford-Westmeath 20.8% 23.8% 50.3% 0.7% 3.9% 0.5% 100.0%
Louth 27.6% 29.3% 18.4% 3.7% 19.7% 1.4% 100.0%
Mayo 15.6% 52.1% 4.2% 0.4% 6.4% 21.4% 100.0%
Meath East 23.9% 21.6% 36.9% 1.3% 4.3% 12.1% 100.0%
Meath West 35.2% 30.1% 15.5% 1.3% 15.4% 2.5% 100.0%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 25.9% 39.6% 6.8% 0.9% 11.2% 15.6% 100.0%
Sligo-North Leitrim 27.1% 39.6% 14.6% 1.5% 15.5% 1.7% 100.0%
Tipperary North 16.9% 11.9% 28.6% 0.4% 3.7% 38.5% 100.0%
Tipperary South 26.2% 18.2% 28.0% 0.6% 3.5% 23.5% 100.0%
Waterford 25.7% 23.0% 35.3% 0.9% 7.4% 7.8% 100.0%
Wexford 22.8% 25.9% 41.9% 0.5% 8.0% 1.0% 100.0%
Wicklow 18.9% 17.5% 45.8% 2.7% 4.9% 10.2% 100.0%
STATE 24.0% 24.0% 33.0% 2.0% 8.0% 9.0% 100.0%
FF FG LB GP SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 1 2 5
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2 2 5
Clare 2 2 4
Cork East 1 1 2 4
Cork North Central 1 1 2 4
Cork North West 1 2 3
Cork South Central 1 2 2 5
Cork South West 1 1 1 3
Donegal North East 1 1 1 3
Donegal South West 1 1 1 3
Dublin Central 1 2 1 4
Dublin Mid West 1 2 1 4
Dublin North 1 2 1 4
Dublin North Central 1 1 1 3
Dublin North East 1 2 3
Dublin North West 1 2 3
Dublin South 1 2 2 5
Dublin South Central 1 3 1 5
Dublin South East 1 3 4
Dublin South West 1 3 4
Dublin West 1 2 1 4
Dun Laoghaire 1 1 2 4
Galway East 2 2 4
Galway West 2 1 2 5
Kerry North-West Limerick 1 1 1 3
Kerry South 1 1 1 3
Kildare North 1 3 4
Kildare South 1 2 3
Laois-Offaly 3 2 5
Limerick City 1 1 2 4
Limerick 1 1 1 3
Longford-Westmeath 1 1 2 4
Louth 2 1 1 1 5
Mayo 1 3 1 5
Meath East 1 1 1 3
Meath West 1 1 1 3
Roscommon-South Leitrim 1 2 3
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 2 3
Tipperary North 1 1 1 3
Tipperary South 1 1 1 3
Waterford 1 1 2 4
Wexford 1 2 2 5
Wicklow 1 1 3 5
STATE 49 42 61 0 6 8 166
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8 thoughts on “Irish Times Ispos-MRBI poll (September): Seat estimates

  1. HISTORIC SHIFT CONFIRMED
    The IPSOS MRBI poll, following the two recent telephone polls, confirms that a historic shift is taking place in Irish politics. Approximately 20% of the electorate has moved away from Fianna Fail.The shift in the 1992 Springtide election was not at all of this magnitude. Unlike the process which led to the 1918 election earthquake, this process is explicitly due to economic issues.
    The political cohesion of nationalism which saw DEV through the privations of the economic war and the dark days of the fifties no longer works for Fianna Fail. This process was masked by the boom. As engineers know, faulty structures crumble under increased stress. The economic stress on the political system will grow over coming budgets and this process is likely to be reinforced.
    The extent of the political shift now taking place probably means the end of Fianna Fail as the dominant force in Irish politics. The poll details indicate that there is a major shift of lower and middle income earners away from Fianna Fail mainly to Labour. But unlike the Springtide process, the shift is of such a magnitude that other lefts will in general be “lifted” as well or at least will not be squeezed. This lends credence to Adrian Kavananagh’s earlier comment to the effect that a government of the left is now becoming possible.
    Because of the scale and depth of the current shift, the effect of political personalities is limited.It is not mainly due to the weak leadership of Enda Kenny that Fine Gael is not the recipient of the main movement away from Fianna Fail. Employees, including public service employees such as nurses, teachers and gardai are listening carefully to what Fine Gael spokespeople are saying including those who supported Richard Bruton. No tax on the very rich,selling off of state companies, cuts in public service provision that go away beyond elimination of waste etc are featuring strongly. The pairing row is of negligible significance in the context of the “political eartquake” now taking place.
    On the other side, it should not be assumed that Eamonn Gilmore’s personal qualities are mainly responsible for the Labour surge. Huge numbers who are carrying the main burden of the recession while the very rich escape are simply reaching for any weapon to hand in order to defend themselves.
    In the context of promised budgets to come, the political shift may be intensified over the coming years

  2. It might be interesting to compare the results of the three recent opinion polls – we rarely get three within a week outside election campaigns – and see what might account for the differences. In particular the 12 point gap in labour support between the TV3 and SBP poll, the seven point gap in FG support and the six-point gap in Sinn Féin support. The Red C polls are the most reliable, in that they come out most regularly and use the same methodology, but are there reasons why the Irish Times or TV3 polls might be more valid?

  3. Is it me, but taking the average of Labour’s percentage support across the 3 polls reported (I know that’s all wrong for so many reasons, but be that as it may) it comes in around 30%? For a moderate left-of-centre party in any other EU country this would be considered as pretty poor. I’m afraid I don’t see any earthquake; it’s just Labour achieving a level of support that would be considered barely acceptable elsewhere.

    But what I do see is two broadly centre/right-of-centre parties (with some populist urges) not exhibiting any significant differences to the eyes of a rational external observer. And such an observer might justifiably query why these parties are not capable of working together to craft a programme of government to respond to a severe economic and financial crisis. And this query is even more relevant when most voters throughout the EU are voting for moderate, centrist, competent government to get them through the current crisis – and when left-of-centre parties are exhibiting a failure to grasp reality (with the Irish Labour Party being no exception).

    • Just to comment on my own constituency there, it seems incredible that the deputy leader of Fine Gael would lose his seat, while Fianna Fail retain one, Labour take two and Daly takes one? Madness! Labour will not take two. One each to the “left” and one each to the “right” is my prediction.

      • “Madness?” Hmmmpphh…
        Well I’ll start by saying (once again) that this is just a model and the numbers and seat allocations have to be taken in that light (as I explain in the post above and previous such posts)…however as this is your constituency you’ll also well know that…
        1. It is not so long ago that a Fine Gael deputy leader lost a seat in Dublin North (2002 General Election – Nora Owen). With less than a quota in 2007, a drop in Fine Gael support here would leave James Reilly in trouble
        2. Had Labour ran two candidates in 1992 they would have won two seats in Dublin North – Labour’s national share of the vote in that election was 19% – well below levels they currently stand in the polls
        3. Three Left candidates figured in the “Top 5” in this constituency in 2002 – with a Gilmore Gale and a swing to the Left it’s not beyond realm of possibility that three Left candidates could figure in the Top 4…
        4. Winning two seats in 2007 easily enough, FF obviously have a lot more ground to lose than FG before they end up with no seats

        And now the counter-argument:
        Boundary changes (which my model cannot factor in) have favoured Reilly (especially) and Labour here against FF, the Greens and Claire Daly, so Reilly on this basis alone is in stonger position in Dublin North than the model can allow for

  4. @Adrian, I did not mean to disrespect your work. I enjoy your interpretations of the polls and I think on aggregate they are accurate. I merely wanted to place them in a realistic context as an afterthought. The outcomes are a reflection of the poll itself rather than your model.

  5. Re Comment of Paul Hunt
    The decline of Fianna Fail support from 42% to 24% is,indeed, a historic shift or “earthquake” in Irish Politics. Fianna Fail has never polled remotely near as low a vote since 1932. Thirty per cent for the Labour party is approximately 10% above that achieved in the Springtide election.
    There is no validity in comparisons with the social democratic vote in mainstream West European Countries
    Irish political structures were formed above all in the crucible of the war of independence and the civil war and these structures have survived until now. Up until recent years Fianna Fail has incorporated features of social democracy.
    The actual achievement in an election in Ireland of West European levels of support for social democracy would indeed be an earthquake.
    However, if Labour enters coalition with Fine Gael, the level of it’s support will collapse in the following election as has always occurred historically. This will usher in a period of unprecedented fluidity in Irish politics.

  6. Hmmm – I just can’t see a lot of these figures panning out. I’m looking at some, such as Dublin North and Dublin Central from an FG perspective and thinking they can’t be right based on polls I’ve seen in the very recent past.

    I suppose personality and vote management are two things that can’t really be accounted for in this though, in saying that, I like the analysis on the whole. There should be real food for thought for people at the political coalface within your figures.

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