Irish Times Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll December 16

Adrian Kavanagh, 15 December 2010

Irish Times Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll December 16:  FF 17 (-7), FG 30 (+6), Lab 25 (-8), Greens 2 (NC), SF 15 (+7), Others 11 (+2)

On the basis of these figures, my constituency-level analysis of the poll estimates seat levels as follows: Fianna Fail 26, Fine Gael 58, Labour 46, Green Party 0, Sinn Fein 18,  Others 18 (including 6 United Left Alliance/4 other Left wing candidates).

These poll figures offer mixed messages for Fianna Fail – on the one hand the figures are not as drastic as those in the recent Red C poll in the Irish Sun but on the other hand they represent what now amounts to a consistent trend for the party of support levels in the teens and a significant decline on support levels enjoyed by the party in the autumn when their support levels had seemed to have “bottomed out” in the low 20s. The 26 seats allocated the party in this poll analysis (including second seat “won” in Louth due to Seamus Kirk’s automatic return as Ceann Comhairle) are well in excess of the 12 seats predicted by the previous such analyis and strongly suggests that there may be a “tipping-point” for Fianna Fail in the mid-teens beyond which their support level must not fall at the risk of the party facing almost total-annihilation at the polls. This can be related to the party’s geography of support; the “catch-all” nature of Fianna Fail support wherein the party’s support is more evenly spread across the state than would be the case for the other political parties. When Fianna Fail support falls in the high-30s to mid-40s range, as has been the case for most of the party’s history, this “catch-all” support pattern is a strengh and means the party has always managed to gain a “seat bonus” of such proportions to leave it close to winning a Dail majority in elections where its support levels fell in the low 40s.  But when support levels fall as low as recent polls indicate, then this catch-all support trend is more a curse than a blessing. On such low levels it is the parties such as the Green Party and Sinn Fein, which enjoy strong clusters of support in certain regions, that survive and thrive – a catch-all party would however struggle to win seats akin to the difficulties the Liberal Democrats face in winning seats in UK general elections (albeit, of course, in a different electoral system).  With a support base in the low to mid teens, Fianna Fail would be at a level where it would be winning less than a quota in most constituencies with this vote being further fractured by fact that the party would be running two, or even, more candidates in most of these constituencies. Added to the fact that vote transfers from other parties would be extremely limited in this election, the nuclear scenario of the party returning with just Brian Cowen, Seamus Kirk and a handful of other deputies (possibly John McGuinness, Michael Moynihan and Willie O’Dea) can not be discounted if party support levels slip further. The consolation for Fianna Fail is that this poll is taken in the wake of the EU/IMF bailout and the recent budget and it could be suggested that this is as “low as the party will go”, leaving to hopes that the party could claw back to their low 20s level in subsequent polls.

The big winners in this poll are Sinn Fein and, to a lesser extent, Fine Gael. Sinn Fein’s share of the vote is almost double that of the previous Irish Times poll – tantamount to a “Doherty Drive” in which the party’s sweeping success in the Donegal South West by-election is translating into an upsurge in support nationally, reflecting the support levels recorded in the recent Irish Sun poll. On these figures, Sinn Fein would be expected to win almost 20 seats at the next general election, including the constituencies noted in the poll analysis and a number of constituencies, such as Waterford and Wexford, where the party would be very close to winning a seat. Most of these successes would be in the party’s Border and working class Dublin heartlands, but on these figures the party would also be making significant breakthroughs outside these heartland areas with Brian Stanley winning a seat in Laois-Offaly and Jonathan O’Brien winning in Cork North-Central.

Fine Gael have experienced a significant increase relative to their levels in the September poll and would be expected to make a number of seat gains at the next election, leaving the party as the largest party in Dail Eireann following that contest. Even better for Fine Gael would be the fact that these seat levels would severely limit the coalition options open to a “Gilmore-gale”-fuelled Labour party, with neither a potential Labour-Fianna Fail coalition (72 seats) nor a combined Left coalition (74 seats) coming close to having sufficient seats to command a majority in Dail Eireann.  Fine Gael, on the other hand, would have the option of a very secure coalition with Labour (104 seats) or a coalition with Fianna Fail (84 seats) in which the party could expect to command the bulk of cabinet positions.

On the basis of the poll figures my analysis would estimate party support levels in the different constituencies as follows (note, as I’ve done previously, party’s 2007 support bases have been amended to reflect personnel changes; e.g. Harte, Kelly and Cowley joining Labour, Keating joining Fine Gael, Flynn’s return to Fianna Fail, and McGrath and Behan’s move to the Independent ranks).

“Estimated” constituency support levels for Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour are here:

FF FG LB
Carlow-Kilkenny 22.5% 37.5% 26.6%
Cavan-Monaghan 14.3% 31.8% 2.8%
Clare 21.1% 45.2% 4.6%
Cork East 13.2% 28.7% 43.8%
Cork North Central 12.7% 26.2% 26.4%
Cork North West 28.0% 54.4% 15.6%
Cork South Central 20.2% 34.7% 25.4%
Cork South West 18.4% 41.8% 25.2%
Donegal North East 20.2% 24.4% 12.7%
Donegal South West 20.5% 25.0% 6.8%
Dublin Central 16.3% 9.4% 27.8%
Dublin Mid West 14.5% 22.6% 28.9%
Dublin North 19.2% 17.2% 26.4%
Dublin North Central 18.4% 28.6% 18.3%
Dublin North East 14.7% 22.8% 33.9%
Dublin North West 16.6% 9.1% 41.7%
Dublin South 20.1% 35.5% 30.5%
Dublin South Central 10.5% 12.3% 40.6%
Dublin South East 12.2% 21.2% 42.6%
Dublin South West 13.0% 17.8% 40.0%
Dublin West 13.1% 19.2% 36.2%
Dun Laoghaire 13.9% 25.2% 38.5%
Galway East 18.8% 49.8% 9.0%
Galway West 14.8% 21.8% 26.6%
Kerry North-West Limerick 10.2% 28.3% 21.5%
Kerry South 14.9% 24.7% 29.9%
Kildare North 14.6% 21.1% 39.0%
Kildare South 21.6% 19.8% 53.6%
Laois-Offaly 31.4% 41.0% 8.0%
Limerick City 23.0% 32.3% 29.4%
Limerick 24.7% 56.2% 17.8%
Longford-Westmeath 16.1% 32.6% 41.8%
Louth 17.4% 32.6% 12.4%
Mayo 14.0% 59.8% 14.8%
Meath East 17.6% 28.2% 29.1%
Meath West 23.2% 35.0% 11.0%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 14.9% 40.2% 26.9%
Sligo-North Leitrim 17.1% 44.0% 9.8%
Tipperary North 11.6% 14.5% 21.0%
Tipperary South 8.8% 18.6% 17.3%
Waterford 18.6% 29.3% 27.3%
Wexford 16.7% 33.4% 32.8%
Wicklow 7.5% 19.9% 31.6%
STATE 17.0% 30.0% 25.0%
And “estimated” constituency support levels for Sinn Fein, the Greens and others here:
GP SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 3.9% 9.5% 0.0%
Cavan-Monaghan 1.4% 40.1% 9.5%
Clare 2.5% 8.6% 18.0%
Cork East 1.1% 12.5% 0.7%
Cork North Central 1.3% 15.3% 18.2%
Cork North West 2.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Cork South Central 4.0% 12.3% 3.5%
Cork South West 3.0% 11.6% 0.0%
Donegal North East 0.6% 37.1% 5.0%
Donegal South West 0.6% 45.5% 1.6%
Dublin Central 2.2% 17.8% 26.6%
Dublin Mid West 4.9% 21.5% 7.6%
Dublin North 7.9% 6.4% 22.9%
Dublin North Central 2.3% 8.3% 24.1%
Dublin North East 2.6% 26.1% 0.0%
Dublin North West 1.0% 28.3% 3.3%
Dublin South 5.6% 7.7% 0.6%
Dublin South Central 1.9% 17.1% 17.5%
Dublin South East 6.1% 10.6% 7.3%
Dublin South West 1.3% 21.3% 6.5%
Dublin West 1.4% 8.9% 21.2%
Dun Laoghaire 3.2% 4.6% 14.4%
Galway East 0.9% 8.0% 13.5%
Galway West 2.3% 6.2% 28.2%
Kerry North-West Limerick 0.6% 35.2% 4.2%
Kerry South 0.7% 6.8% 22.9%
Kildare North 1.9% 4.8% 18.5%
Kildare South 2.8% 0.0% 2.1%
Laois-Offaly 0.7% 15.1% 3.9%
Limerick City 1.3% 10.5% 3.5%
Limerick 1.3% 0.0% 0.0%
Longford-Westmeath 0.7% 8.1% 0.7%
Louth 3.3% 32.8% 1.5%
Mayo 0.4% 11.0% 0.0%
Meath East 1.3% 8.4% 15.4%
Meath West 1.2% 26.8% 2.9%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 0.7% 17.0% 0.2%
Sligo-North Leitrim 1.3% 25.9% 1.9%
Tipperary North 0.4% 6.7% 45.7%
Tipperary South 0.5% 5.3% 49.5%
Waterford 0.9% 14.2% 9.7%
Wexford 0.5% 15.4% 1.2%
Wicklow 2.5% 8.4% 30.2%
STATE 2.0% 15.0% 11.0%
Solely on the basis of these generated constituency support estimates, I would guesstimate the destination of the seats in the different constituencies as follows  (Fianna Fail awarded extra seat in Louth on basis of Seamus Kirk being Ceann Comhairle).
My guesstimates, based on the estimates above, of seats won by constituency by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour are as follows:
FF FG LB
Carlow-Kilkenny 1 2 2
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2
Clare 1 2
Cork East 2 2
Cork North Central 1 1
Cork North West 1 2
Cork South Central 1 2 2
Cork South West 2 1
Donegal North East 1 1
Donegal South West 1
Dublin Central 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1
Dublin North 1 1 1
Dublin North Central 1 1
Dublin North East 1 1
Dublin North West 2
Dublin South 1 2 2
Dublin South Central 3
Dublin South East 1 1 2
Dublin South West 1 2
Dublin West 1 2
Dun Laoghaire 1 2
Galway East 1 3
Galway West 1 1 1
Kerry North-West Limerick 1 1
Kerry South 1 1
Kildare North 1 2
Kildare South 1 2
Laois-Offaly 2 2
Limerick City 1 2 1
Limerick 1 2
Longford-Westmeath 1 1 2
Louth 2 1
Mayo 4 1
Meath East 1 1 1
Meath West 1 1
Roscommon-South Leitrim 2 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 2
Tipperary North 1
Tipperary South 1
Waterford 1 2 1
Wexford 1 2 2
Wicklow 1 2
STATE 26 58 46
My guesstimates, based on the estimates above, of seats won by constituency by the Green Party, Sinn Fein and Others are as follows:
GP SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny
Cavan-Monaghan 2
Clare 1
Cork East
Cork North Central 1 1
Cork North West
Cork South Central
Cork South West
Donegal North East 1
Donegal South West 2
Dublin Central 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1
Dublin North 1
Dublin North Central 1
Dublin North East 1
Dublin North West 1
Dublin South
Dublin South Central 1 1
Dublin South East
Dublin South West 1
Dublin West 1
Dun Laoghaire 1
Galway East
Galway West 2
Kerry North-West Limerick 1
Kerry South 1
Kildare North 1
Kildare South
Laois-Offaly 1
Limerick City
Limerick
Longford-Westmeath
Louth 2
Mayo
Meath East
Meath West 1
Roscommon-South Leitrim
Sligo-North Leitrim 1
Tipperary North 2
Tipperary South 2
Waterford
Wexford
Wicklow 2
STATE 0 18 18
The degree to which these figures may, or may not, pan out in reality of course will be determined by the party’s actual support levels come election day, in addition to localistic political trends, issues and personalities, as well as candidate selections. For instance, the model assigns two seats to Sinn Fein in Louth and Donegal South West where the party is likely to just run Gerry Adams and Pearse Doherty respectively (to see most up to date candidate selection details, visit this site), while the potential selection of European election candidate, Toireasa Ferris, in Kerry South would leave the party much closer to winning a seat there than is predicted by the model. In the other constituency where the party is assigned two seats by the model, Cavan-Monaghan, Kathryn Reilly is well placed to win this second seat for the party.  There are also a number of constituencies where the party, on a poll figure of 15%, would probably be decidedly closer to winning a seat than the poll analysis would suggest especially based on the 2009 local election figures, and such constituencies could include Limerick City, Roscommon-South Leitrim, Cork South-Central and Mayo, in addition to the aforementioned Wexford and Waterford.
In the case of Labour, the predicted level of support in Kildare South is unlikely to pan out in reality, unless the “Gilmore Gale” blows more vehemently than the latest poll figures would suggest, but on the other hand the party would probably have a much better chance of winning seats in other constituencies than the model figures would suggest, including Dublin North-Central, Louth, Meath West, Sligo-North Leitrim and Galway East.
While the model highlights Fine Gael as emerging the largest party overall in seat terms after the next election, Labour, despite a loss in support relative to the September poll, are still at two-and-a-half times their level of support in the 2007 contest and emerge as the strongest party in the Dublin region with this model estimating that it would win 19 seats in the Dublin constituencies based on the poll level of support. Indeed, the haul of Dublin seats that would fall to the party would be decidedly greater only for the surge in Sinn Fein’s poll ratings.  Should Sinn Fein’s support levels fall back to their GE2007 levels then there is a strong chance that Labour could win most, if not all, of the six seats assigned to Sinn Fein in the capital. This would mean that a party, which failed to win two seats in any constituency in 2007, would be winning two seats in most of the Dublin consituencies.
In Dublin South Central, where Labour narrowly lost out on winning two seats in 2007, the model is estimating that the party will win three seats, and earlier versions of this poll analysis, based on polls taken at a time when Sinn Fein support levels were lower, have pointed to the party potentially winning four out of the five seats here. Is this really feasible? The three-seat scenario is, on current support estimates, highly probable and the prospects of winning four seats here not just a theoretical possibility given the nature of local politics in this five-seat constituency. Both Fianna Fail seats are vulnerable here given the expected loss in support for Fianna Fail and the highly-respected Sean Ardagh’s decision to retire, while both Fine Gael and Sinn Fein had less than a quota in 2007, meaning that all of the other party’s seats in this constituency are vulnerable. Labour’s candidates could also gain from being in position to mop up transfer votes from lower placed candidates, as with a “Gilmore Gale” blowing Labour will prove to be a very transfer-friendly party, especially in the capital. The local election results, where Labour won 5 out of the 12 council seats contested in this ward, also illustrates the party’s ability to win votes all over this constituency, a geographical base of support that could be well employed by the addition of a fourth, South West Inner City-based, candidate such as Rebecca Moynihan given that their three selected candidates, Byrne, Conaghan and Upton, are based in the other two electoral areas within Dublin South Central (Ballyfermot-Drimnagh and Crumlin-Kimmage).
The Dublin South Central example just illustrates the level to which, on the basis of these and other recent poll figures, some very dramatic results may be expected in some constituencies at the next general election. But with the election now expected not to take place until March or April there is still a lot of time for parties to make up, lose, or even gain more ground. Local, intra-constituency, trends as well as likely fluctuations in support levels over the next three or four months, means that the final outcome of General Election 2011 will look very different to what this poll analysis suggests, but at least this can give some idea as to what today’s poll figures could mean in terms of the likely composition of the next Dail.
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14 thoughts on “Irish Times Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll December 16

  1. Adrian did not mention the big losers in the poll–The labour Party (-8) wich is approximatey equal to the combined gain of Sinn Fein and left wing candidates.
    Labour + Sinn Fein + left now at 74–not far from a majority

  2. The “others” column is missing from the seats table

    In my opinion it is a mistake to describe Lab + Sinn Fein + lefts =74 as “not coming close to having a majority”. One has to consider the direction in which the process is moving. The surge is with the left albeit with some rightist voters moving from Fianna Fail to Fine Gael.
    After Jan 1 the welfare cheque, the pay cheque and the pension cheque will be reduced. Yes, even a private sector occupational pensioner on 15,000 euro(less than minimum wage) will loose 8 euro per week and the equivalent public sector pensioner will lose 12 euro per week. I expect a further strengthening of Sinn Fein and the left which could bring a Lab + Sinn Fein + left majority much closer. The Fianna Fail nightmare is that they could also continue to bleed wealthier voters to Fine gael. The budget and the Plan for National Recovery (Ruin?) cannot fail to polarise the population

  3. Fianna Fail will either join or support a Fine Gael government in this post-election scenario.

    Under no condition will members of the SWP be allowed to participate in government, especially not by the Labour Party!

    A post-election FF with, say, 25 – 35 seats, will be led probably by someone like John McGuinness. There would then be no problem with Fine Gael .

  4. Carlow-Kilkenny; Now, today, Wednesday 15th December 2011 , still looking on the ground here that Bobby Aylward FF will be re-elected alongside John McGuinness FF.

    Fine Gael , John Paul Phelan to be elected alongside Phil Hogan.

    Last seat will be fought for between Anne Phelan ( KIlkenny Labour) , Pat Deering ( FG Carlow) amd Mary White ( Green, Carlow)

    If Mary White is eliminated before Deering , her transfers would then elect Anne Phelan for the Labour Party. If Deering is elimated before Mary White you will still see Anne Phelan of Labour being elected!

    Thus Carlow-Kilkenny still looking like FF2 , FG2, Labour 1 .

    NB: I Tthink you have to approach every constituency like this to fairly predict the overall result of the election.

  5. Looking at the Projections are the 6 ULA and Left Independents in the following constituencies?
    Cork North Central – Mick Barry
    Dublin Central – Maureen O’Sullivan
    Dublin North – Clare Daly
    Dublin North Central – Finian McGrath
    Dublin South Central -Joan Collins
    Dublin West -Joe Higgins
    Dun Laoghaire – Richard Boyd-Barrett
    Galway West -Catherine Connolly
    Kildare North -Catherine Murphy
    Tipp South -Seamus Healy

  6. Anyone have any thoughts on how the abortion issue (now that the fruits of hypocrisy and political cowardice are once again being reaped) might impact on these election tallies?

    • It won’t impact in any way because they will all ignore it, as those going out of government are vulnerable for doing nothing over the last nearly 20 years and those going into government won’t want to give any hostages to fortune.

      The irony being the power of Church is pretty much broken for most under 60, so it probably wouldn’t be an issue at all if a party did want to address it. Pretty much everyone knows someone who has had an unplanned pregnancy or one were a termination was considered, however briefly, and the Ireland of 1992 might as well be another planet, it is so different to the Ireland of 2010.

  7. The “others” column is missing from the seats table In my opinion it is a mistake to describe Lab + Sinn Fein + lefts =74 as “not coming close to having a majority”. One has to consider the direction in which the process is moving. The surge is with the left albeit with some rightist voters moving from Fianna Fail to Fine Gael. After Jan 1 the welfare cheque, the pay cheque and the pension cheque will be reduced. Yes, even a private sector occupational pensioner on 15,000 euro(less than minimum wage) will loose 8 euro per week and the equivalent public sector pensioner will lose 12 euro per week. I expect a further strengthening of Sinn Fein and the left which could bring a Lab + Sinn Fein + left majority much closer. The Fianna Fail nightmare is that they could also continue to bleed wealthier voters to Fine gael. The budget and the Plan for National Recovery (Ruin?) cannot fail to polarise the population

  8. The revelation (Vincent Browne IT Dec 22) that 59% of those polled by MRBI/IPSOS said that if Labour/FG had been in office for the last 6 months the country would be no better or worse and that an additional 9% said it would be worse is very important. It should be taken together with the 9% satisfaction rating with the government and the finding that 45% of those polled would either vote for Lefts, Sinn Fein, had no opinion or did not intend to vote. These statistics lend support to my earlier contention that the process of drift to the left will continue as the actual budgetary income reductions come into force in January. The definitive ruling out by Labour Party (Joan Burton on Prime Time) of being in government with Sinn Fein will probably accelerate this process. Labour has now nailed its colours to the Fine Gael mast. The promise by Fine Gael to gut the public service will reduce support for Labour by public servants. Despite protestations Fine Gael and Labour may have to turn to Sinn Fein to form a government. (Pre-election statements are inoperative when the election results are known.The books will turn out to be worse than expected. The national interest requires a change of government blah! blah! blah!) I hope everyone now accepts that there is no insuperable obstacle to such an arrangement.

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