Seat estimates: Sunday Business Post/Red C Poll, 29th January 2011

Adrian Kavanagh, 29 January 2011

Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll January 30:  FF 16 (-1), FG 33 (-1), Lab 23 (-2), Greens 2 (NC), SF 13 (-2), Others 15 (+5)

On the basis of these figures, my constituency-level analysis of the poll estimates seat levels as follows: Fianna Fail 24, Fine Gael 68, Labour 40, Green Party 0, Sinn Fein 14, Others 20 (including 11 “Left”-leaning Others seats)

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 polls in the Irish Sun and for Paddy Power but on the other hand they represent what now amounts to a consistent trend for the party of support levels in the teens – even with the impact of a leadership-change bounce (“Martin-mo”) – and still represents 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 24 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 low-to-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 acts a strenght to the party, 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 pattern becomes a curse. 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 as its support levels would leave it short of a quota in many constituencies – significant problems given the transfer toxicity likely to be associated with Fianna Fail in the coming election – 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 some 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 Michael Martin, Willie O’Dea, Eamonn O’Cuiv, Sean Fleming, Seamus Kirk and a handful of other deputies (probably including John McGuinness, Michael Moynihan and Brendan Smith) cannot be discounted if party support levels slip again once the “honeymoon period” for Michael Martin’s leadership has passed.

The big winners in this poll are the Others grouping, with the analysis below suggesting that the independents and small parties grouping could win up to 20 seats in the coming general election. However, this grouping is a very “broad church”, involving the United Left Alliance (Socialist Party, People Before Profit, Workers and Unemployed Action Group, Laois Offaly group) and various other left leaning independents (including Catherine Murphy, Catherine Connolly, Finian McGrath, Liam Dumpleton and Maureen O’Sullivan), but also independents who were recently members of the Fianna Fail (e.g. Mattie McGrath) and Fine Gael (e.g Kevin Kiely) parties.

Fine Gael experienced a significant increase relative to their levels in the September poll following the Budget, with this surge slightly tapering off in the latest 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 by a dlear margin following that contest. These seat levels would also severely limit the coalition options open to a “Gilmore-gale”-fuelled Labour party, with a potential Labour-Fianna Fail coalition (64 seats) nor a combined Left coalition (63 seats) both falling well short of the number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann.  Fine Gael, on the other hand, would have the option of a very secure coalitions with either Labour (108 seats) or Fianna Fail (92 seats) in which the party could expect to command the bulk of cabinet positions.

On the basis of the poll figures (and only these poll figures) my analysis would estimate party support levels in the different constituencies as follows (Note, as I’ve done in previous polls analyses, the parties’ 2007 support bases have been amended to reflect personnel changes; e.g. Harte, Kelly and Cowley joining Labour, Keating  joining Fine Gael, and McGrath and Behan’s move to the Independent ranks):

Carlow-Kilkenny 21.9% 42.6% 23.1% 4.0% 8.5% 0.0%
Cavan-Monaghan 13.5% 35.0% 2.3% 1.4% 34.8% 13.0%
Clare 18.4% 46.1% 3.6% 2.3% 6.9% 22.7%
Cork East 13.2% 33.7% 39.3% 1.1% 11.6% 1.1%
Cork North Central 11.7% 28.2% 21.7% 1.3% 12.9% 24.3%
Cork North West 26.0% 59.1% 13.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Cork South Central 19.4% 39.0% 21.8% 4.1% 10.9% 4.8%
Cork South West 17.8% 47.2% 21.7% 3.1% 10.3% 0.0%
Donegal North East 19.8% 27.9% 11.1% 0.6% 33.5% 7.1%
Donegal South West 20.3% 29.1% 6.0% 0.7% 41.6% 2.3%
Dublin Central 14.9% 10.0% 22.7% 2.1% 15.0% 35.3%
Dublin Mid West 14.1% 25.7% 25.1% 5.1% 19.2% 10.7%
Dublin North 17.4% 18.2% 21.4% 7.6% 5.3% 30.1%
Dublin North Central 16.2% 29.6% 14.5% 2.1% 6.8% 30.8%
Dublin North East 14.9% 27.1% 30.7% 2.8% 24.4% 0.0%
Dublin North West 17.2% 11.0% 38.6% 1.1% 27.0% 5.0%
Dublin South 19.5% 40.4% 26.5% 5.8% 6.9% 0.8%
Dublin South Central 10.1% 13.8% 34.8% 2.0% 15.1% 24.3%
Dublin South East 12.0% 24.3% 37.3% 6.4% 9.6% 10.4%
Dublin South West 13.0% 20.8% 35.7% 1.4% 19.6% 9.4%
Dublin West 12.1% 20.7% 29.8% 1.4% 7.5% 28.4%
Dun Laoghaire 13.1% 27.7% 32.3% 3.2% 4.0% 19.7%
Galway East 16.7% 51.5% 7.1% 0.9% 6.5% 17.3%
Galway West 13.1% 22.6% 21.0% 2.1% 5.1% 36.1%
Kerry North-W Limerick 10.0% 32.5% 18.9% 0.7% 31.9% 6.0%
Kerry South 13.5% 26.1% 24.1% 0.7% 5.7% 29.9%
Kildare North 13.6% 23.0% 32.4% 1.9% 4.1% 25.0%
Kildare South 21.9% 23.4% 48.5% 3.0% 0.0% 3.1%
Laois-Offaly 29.5% 44.9% 6.7% 0.7% 13.0% 5.2%
Limerick City 22.3% 36.6% 25.5% 1.3% 9.4% 4.9%
Limerick    23.0% 61.0% 14.8% 1.3% 0.0% 0.0%
Longford-Westmeath 16.0% 37.8% 37.0% 0.8% 7.4% 1.0%
Louth 17.0% 37.2% 10.8% 3.4% 29.5% 2.1%
Mayo 13.0% 64.9% 12.3% 0.3% 9.4% 0.0%
Meath East 16.3% 30.5% 24.1% 1.3% 7.2% 20.6%
Meath West 22.3% 39.4% 9.4% 1.2% 23.7% 4.0%
Roscommon-S Leitrim 14.5% 45.8% 23.4% 0.7% 15.3% 0.3%
Sligo-N Leitrim 16.3% 48.9% 8.3% 1.3% 22.6% 2.6%
Tipperary North 9.7% 14.1% 15.6% 0.3% 5.2% 55.1%
Tipperary South 7.1% 17.6% 12.6% 0.4% 4.0% 58.3%
Waterford 17.6% 32.6% 23.2% 0.9% 12.4% 13.4%
Wexford 16.4% 38.5% 28.8% 0.5% 14.0% 1.8%
Wicklow 6.7% 20.6% 24.9% 2.3% 6.9% 38.7%
STATE 16.0% 33.0% 21.0% 2.0% 13.0% 15.0%

Based on these seat estimates, seats levels per party for each of the different constituencies would be guesstimated as follows:

Carlow-Kilkenny 1 3 1      
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2     2  
Clare 1 2       1
Cork East   2 2      
Cork North Central   2 1     1
Cork North West 1 2        
Cork South Central 1 3 1      
Cork South West   2 1      
Donegal North East 1 1     1  
Donegal South West 1 1     1  
Dublin Central     1   1 2
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1   1  
Dublin North 1 1 1     1
Dublin North Central 1 1       1
Dublin North East   1 1   1  
Dublin North West     2   1  
Dublin South 1 3 1      
Dublin South Central   1 2   1 1
Dublin South East   2 2      
Dublin South West   1 2   1  
Dublin West   1 2     1
Dun Laoghaire   1 2     1
Galway East 1 2       1
Galway West 1 1 1     2
Kerry North-W Limerick   1 1   1  
Kerry South   1 1     1
Kildare North   1 2     1
Kildare South 1 1 1      
Laois-Offaly 2 3        
Limerick City 1 2 1      
Limerick    1 2        
Longford-Westmeath   2 2      
Louth 2 2     1  
Mayo 1 4        
Meath East   1 1     1
Meath West 1 1     1  
Roscommon-S Leitrim   2 1      
Sligo-N Leitrim   2     1  
Tipperary North   1 1     1
Tipperary South   1       2
Waterford 1 2 1      
Wexford 1 2 2      
Wicklow   1 2     2
STATE 24 68 40 0 14 20

Based on these seat levels, seat numbers for different coalition options are as follows (level of Dail majority for options at, or above, the magic 83 seat level also highlighted):

Fine Gael/Labour 108 50
Fine Gael/Right Independent 77  
Fine Gael/Fianna Fail 92 18
Fianna Fail/Labour 64  
Fianna Fail/Labour/Sinn Fein 78  
Left Coalition 63  
Fine Gael/Green Party 68  
Fine Gael/Independent/Green 77  

The degree to which such seat levels pan out come election day will of course be impacted by changing support trends over the coming few weeks, in addition to localistic political trends, issues and personalities that may lead to trends in some constituencies diverging from the national trends, as well as the candidate selection process and the relative level of political competition in a constituency. For instance, the model could assign two seats to Sinn Fein in Donegal South West and Labour in Kildare South, but instead just assigns one as these party are now likely to just run one candidate in these (Pearse Doherty and Jack Wall respectively): To see most up to date candidate selection details, visit this site.  

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 almost two-and-a-half times the level of support the party won in the 2007 contest and emerge as the strongest party in the Dublin region with this model estimating that it would win 12 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 in the capital fall back towards their GE2007 levels then there is a strong chance that Labour could win some of the four 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 a number of the Dublin consituencies (North West, South Central, South East, South West and West, as well as Dun Laoghaire).
Some very dramatic results may be expected in some constituencies at the next general election and there is still a lot of time over the coming weeks 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.

51 thoughts on “Seat estimates: Sunday Business Post/Red C Poll, 29th January 2011

  1. Again that Red C Poll is wrong regarding Carlow-Kilkenny voting intentions according to the Kilkenny People In Depth Constituency Poll this week , see the Kilkenny People newspaper website.
    Kilkenny People : FF 24 %
    Red C : FF 21.9 %

    – and the Kilkenny People Poll was taken at FORTY points across Carlow and Kilkenny in all nine electoral areas, face-to-face ( not telephone! ) BEFORE Micheal Martin was elected FF leader!

    OK , you say, that’s only Carlow-Kilkenny , but it is the first real indicator of Ireland’s voting intentions outside of Dublin!
    AND therefore all the other rural constituencies would have to be adjusted upwards in favour of Fianna Fail , that is those who follow a country pattern instead of a Dublin pattern.
    Dublin bias in polls is now PROVED to be blatant , whether it is as a result of either ignorance or laziness on behalf of the pollsters, or both, I do not know.
    I rest my case.

    • It’s not the Red C poll making any constituency predictions, it’s Adrian. As he has said on many occasions these might not be right in individual constituencies. Ideally however the errors would even each other out. If Independents are going to do much better and there is a different type of independent then there could be a problem of predicting certain individual constituencies where new independents are running.
      In any case the two point difference between FF in Kilkenny according to Adrian’s analysis and the People’s poll is hardly huge.

    • But it is !
      When the Martin bounce factor is added in, whatever it is, can we say as little as four per cent on top of the ‘Kilkenny People’ 24 % for Fianna Fail poll , then you have 28 % for Fianna Fail , which is over 6% more than any of the polls predict .

      This places both RedC and Milliard-Brown way out of order , and even more so when we could take this Carlow-Kilkenny poll as far more indicative of the way that the country will vote outside of Dublin.

      All along it is absolutely apparent that the polls were taking Dublin rather than the rest of the country more seriously, and this is the fatal flaw that will be exposed about these polls , and the way they have been conducted over the past several months since September last.

      Here we have proved a difference of over 6 % already indicated as a result of the Dublin bias of the polls who have only themselves to blame!

  2. When it comes to the crunch more people will vote for Fianna Fáil than we think, more people will vote for Fine Gael, less will vote for Labour, less will vote for Sinn Fein and less will vote for Independents as nice and all as Independents are with their big scare tactics the fact is that we are were we are because of what Independents from Tony Gregory onwards have done to the political system.

    I think people know full well the new government needs a firm mandate but not too firm, and people understand no matter how angry they are now, they will rue the day if Sinn Fein were to be the main opposition party.

    Also, the Seanad elections should see the government will a firm majority there too and that will give Kenny some freedom to make bold nominations – if there are no Green TDs, I think he should use his nominees to appoint 2 or 3 Green Senators and perhaps this time Fine Gael have learnt its lesson for who it appoints as Presidential candidate and puts its support to David Norris.

  3. The figure given for Labour on RTE and on other blogs is 21% not 23% as given here
    The figure of 15% for others is the same in both polls, a significant increase
    Please check
    Labour seems to be “squeezed” by Fine Gael on its right and ULA on its left. The performance of Labour in practice and on media in the last week has been dire!
    This is due to the fundamental contradiction in its position

    • Yes, Paddy, yet again it seems that in the case of Labour the squeeze on the party is a Dublin phenomenon , not particular to the rest of the country where the ULA hardly counts – but ominously Sinn Fein does!

      For instance the 22 % voting intention for Labour, as discovered by the Kilkenny People poll , with two virtually unknown councillors in Carlow-Kilkenny, is extraordinary.

      I think that once in his career , but I’m relying on memory here, that the legendary Seamus Pattison at his height in all his power and glory , managed 21 % across Carlow-Kilkenny.

      Labour , to my mind, have every reason to be as pleased as cats with the cream.
      So much of this election seems to be throroughly Dublin biased, not only with the polls but in the media reportage too.
      A different picture will emerge at the counts when the COUNTRY speaks:-)

  4. Jane Suiter gives a very clear response to Michael McGrath’s complaint about the Dublin bias in polls. I would just like to point out that Gail McElroy and I did some extensive analysis of national and local polls in How Ireland Voted 2002 and How Ireland Voted 2007, both of which were published by Palgrave. National polls performed quite well in 2007. When it comes to local polls, however, it is clear that they are a often very poor guide to the final constituency results, and that is when they are carried out by experienced professional organisations, which is not true of the survey published by the Kilkenny People. If the sample were perfectly random the margin of error on the FF vote percentage would be close to plus or minus 4%, but in fact the margin is much bigger for reasons explained in How Ireland Voted 2002. Essentially this stems from the fact that support for parties and individual candidates is not spread evenly across the constituencies, but concentrated in patches. We concluded our 2002 review by saying that ‘The claims of the local newspapers regarding the accuracy of their polls were clearly not justified’.

    • To Michael Marsh , I disagree entirely about the two polls , RedC and Milliard Brown, that are proven to be totally out of order as regards Carlow-Kilkenny , and much inferior too to the local in-depth poll of the Kilkenny People newspaper as published last Wednesday ( taken before Michael Martin was elected leader of Fianna Fail) .

      The Kilkenny People poll was taken FACE-TO-FACE, not down telephones like the national polls are.

      The Kilkenny People poll was taken at FORTY centres across Carlow and Kilkenny, the national polls at barely half a dozen centres.

      The Kilkenny People staff knows personally those that they are polling , the national polls do not!

      The Kilkenny People staff also took into account local deviations that they as experienced journalists would know about that the national pollsters don’t , they have local savvy.

      The national polls were not even taken in all nine electoral areas of Carlow -Kilkenny , as the Kilkenny People polls were.

      And the last thing that the national opinion polls can afford right now is to appear arrogant 🙂

    • If my memory of my statistics course 35 years ago serves me correctly, the margins of error for a 1000 respondent poll are typicaly +/- 3%; and for a 400 respondent poll +/- 6%; and it doesn’t matter all that much if the population sampled is the electorate in all of the Republic, or just that in Carlow Kilkwnny. Thus, counter-intuitive though it may seem, the 1000 sample MRBI national poll is much more accurate than the smaller Carlow Kilkenny one on a national basis, and also, unless the population in Carlow Kilkenny really is very different from the rest of the country, it is also more likely to be accurate for Carlow Kilkenny.

      The only major caveat I would place on this rather startling conclusion is due to the fact that the Carlow Kilkenny poll seems to have polled support for actual candidates rather than support for parties as such. People may vote for Aylward etc. because he is Aylward and may not even be particularly aware of his party affiliation, and if they are, may do so despite his party affiliation.

      For this reason the Constituency level poll is indeed likely to be more accurate. However even on this basis it is more likely that Labour will win two seats rather than FF if one makes the assumption that Labour will get more transfers from Sinn Fein, Greens, and ULA than FF.

  5. Yes, Paddy , but yet again that is a Dublin phenomenon.

    I have never seen general election campaign reportage in all my life where the country is so over-represented by “Dublin opinion” whether it’s Labour or Fine Gael or Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein or Others.( 0r The Greens, sorry) .

    But it’s like the media want to push Dublin voting patterns down our necks here in the country.

    Labour are doing great generally throughout the country outside of Dublin.

    To harp back to that Kilkenny People poll , because it is the only credible poll we have to work on at this stage outside of the greater Dublin area, Labour are on an unheard-of 22 % across Carlow-Kilkenny , and that with two relatively unknown and untried and untested councillors as standard-bearers – magnificent!
    ( I remember that the legendary Seamus Pattison at his height scored 21 % for Labour in Carlow-Kilkenny)

    A very different picture to ‘Dublin Opinion’ will emerge when the COUNTRY speaks on Election Day.

    • actually according to the copy attaching to the RedC poll in the SBP, Labour is doing significantly better in Dublin than elsewhere. Dublin figure is 31%

  6. Quite frankly, the fact that people actually think a FG/LAB will wave a magic wand and fix things is laughable.

    As a nation we have proven that we are to stupid to run our own country.

    The best thing we should do is to submit ourselves to Germanys will or beg Britain to take us back.

    The fact that Kenny and Noonan went to see Baruso shows unbelieveable ignorance.

    If FG had any credibility they would have voted against the finance bill and have it as an election manifesto but they are quite happy to say this bill is all FF faults, it shows unbelieveable cowardice from FG.

    All it shows is that FG is only mad for one thing POWER.

    FG is not interested in helping people all they are interested in is watching Ireland Crash and Burn.

    Enda Kenny will be a laughable Taoiseach.

    I wont be voting in this Election because all the parties are the problem not the solution.

    No party is offering a clear and credible plan for the next five years.

  7. To Jane Suitor:
    The kilkenny People poll weas tahken before Micheal Martin was elected leader of Fianna Fail.
    The RedC and Milliard-Brown afterwards.

    I shall therefore allow you to use your own intelligence concerning the bounce factor that would apply across Carlow-Kilkenny and adjust accordingly.

    – and I shall be here to remind you of the result after Ireland has spoken:-)

  8. Furthermore , as far back as the 1969 general election I was Deputy Director of Elections in Kilkenny to Seamus Pattison.
    I am a former photo-journalist on the Munster Express for Kilkenny, also former political correspondent of the Kilkenny Standard.
    I’m 63 today and former ‘ everything’ except that I am still a professional photographer.

    My own perceived wisdom is that Fianna Fail will take one-third of the vote here on election day, re-electing John McGuinness TD and Bobby Aylward TD.
    Anne Phelan for Labour, Phil Hoogan and John Paul Phelan for Fine Gael.
    Anne Suitor may appear here to tell me if I am wrong after the country has spoken,
    But the polls have got the country wrong as I have shown through the Kilkenny People poll that they are Dublin biased,
    ( That Kilkenny People poll is the only credible and professional poll taken to date outside of Duiblin, to the best of my knowledge. )

    ( The journalists who underttook that Kilkenny people poll are experienced members of the NUj, well-known and respected, such as sean Keane, if that matters to the Dublin elite ! )

  9. I forgot to mention the elephant in the room.
    This is the second Red C poll in sequence in which FF+FG polled less than 50%. That is an “eartgquake” in Irish politics

    Despite all the chaos created by Brian Cowen and the reduction in all incomes in January, Fine Gael are “stuck” at approximately one third of the poll. Two thirds of the electorate persistently refuse to support them. What will happen when FG is in office and implementing the IMF/EU plan? What will happen to Labour support when it is doing likewise? The main POLITICAL crisis in Ireland will occur when FG/Lab are a few months in office with no discernable change effected for the majority of the population except more cuts in living standards!

  10. What else . Paddy!
    Bang on the nail. I have never thought I would live to see the day when Enda Kenny would be looked upon by the people of Ireland as The Messiah.

    Of course it’s all the media at it as usual , wait until the people soeak:-)

  11. @Michael McGrath,

    The point about Adrian’s predictions is that they are based on a model and all models are inherently flawed, so the predictions are merely indicative. As Adrian has made clear on previous predictions based on poll results it’s up to those who have more detailed local knowledge of their own constituency to adjust the model predictions in accordance with same.

    So in my own case, in Dublin West, I’m fairly convinced at this stage that there is no possibility of the Labour Party winning more than one seat. I feel strongly that Brian Lenihan will likely retain his seat for FF, contrary to the consistent predictions of Adrian’s model. What it can’t take into account are factors like ‘candidate likeability’, the relative strength of Joe Higgins as an Independent who is perceived as having being unfairly squeezed out in 2007, nor indeed the respect in which Brian Lenihan is held, personally and professionally, nor as the genuine weakness of the Labour organisation on the ground in Dublin West which of itself suggests it is impossible for that party to mount a realistic campaign that will result in winning more than one seat. I could be wrong; but I doubt it.

    I think your own local knowledge operates similarly. However, Adrian’s model is a reasonably good guide though as to what should follow from relative party voting strengths in the polls. Further, I think we all need to wait a week or ten days before any reliable predictions of likely final results can be made. I would put it this way: polls before an election are about feelings about a party. As you would know better than I from your long experience of local campaigns, once an election is declared the individual voter’s attention is immediately focussed on the slate in his /her constituency; plus that other crucial question of who will make the best ‘national leader’, a point that I think is frequently underestimated by political scientists and pollsters generally. Perspectives change overnight and ‘events’ throughout the campaign may alter voting intentions up to the last week of the campaign.

    Next week’s Red C will really tell us how the wind is blowing; less theoretical and more realistic than anything else to date I expect.

  12. Thank you, Veronica, I agree,

    But if RedC and the rest of them don’t get their asses outside of Dublin, not just sitting there believing all they’re being told via their phone lines and the rest, they’re going to be real sad sacks at the election counts.

    Country people are not in fact up in arms like the Dublin proletariat, we are far to wise for that , we are far to wise to adopt Enda Kenny like the Dubs when we have already rejected him twice, we are not swayed by the verbal acrobatics of Eamon Gilmore that he would be any better, so I believe that so far the pollsters have got it horribly wrong – for themselves!

    But the very worst thing the pollsters and media punters can do is to ascribe Dublin voting intentions to us here down the country – over the past couple of years the Dubs have made right asses of themselves voting Trots on to their city council , their business not ours, that’s the way we look on it down here.

    We do not go here in rural middle Ireland with giant radical swings to anybody for immediate answers like the Dubs do,because we know that there are no quick fixes, we are not as passionate as they, we are much more patient, and that is why there will not be a government of 112 FG + Labour – if the Dubs had their way, there would be!

    Now we are patiently waiting to enjoy the disaster of Enda Kenny debating….. as we take our time.

  13. It is inevitable that national trends would be expressed at their sharpest in the main urban centres particularly in Dublin. But the Tendency exists everywhere.
    There are many ULA candidates outside of Dublin who will gain support as the campaign progresses. It can be expected that Sinn Fein will do well in provincial centres where there is virtually no Labour Party tradition. Sinn Fein will also do well in the most deprived urban areas which, with some exceptions, have been neglected by the Labour Party in its pursuit of the “middle classes”. The problem for Labour is that the “Blairite” middle class is very sparse in Ireland. The historic problem for Labour in Ireland has been its failure to gain support from the majority of the working class. Labour has still not learned this lesson. Gilmore is an inadequate and shallow leader of the Labour Party.
    Anonymous says: Yes, Paddy , but yet again that is a Dublin phenomenon.
    Should you not say a Dublin and South Tipperary/West Waterford phenomenon ???? UP Tipp!

  14. @Paddy Healy –
    Labour at 22% in Carlow-Kilkenny running two virtually unknown councillors, and that figure general agreed by RedC , Milliard-Brown and the local Kilkenny People constituency in-depth poll.

    If I were Labour , I’d be feeling very happy with that down the country. This happy scene in Carlow-Kilkenny is the actual direct handiwork of Eamon Gilmour here , who has finally compensated for the retirement of Seamus Pattison and the consequent Pattison-Labour Split in this constituency , it is his handiwork that he can admire at the count , you have to give the man some little credit.

    Healy in South Tipp, I doubt it, nor RBB in Dun Laoire either, he missed the boat the last time. Maybe Joe Higgins ?

    Thus I am convinced that all this ULA hype that you hear from Dublin has no significance at all down the country especially right now as FF candidates are out on the doorsteps everywhere like men possessed, fighting , even begging with Hail Marys on the doorsteps for their very lives – I have seen and heard them crying , wailing and gnashing their teeth , it’s unnerving to witness, they’re in the Alamo and they know it.

    Two SF candidates , one in Carlow with 9% , the other in Kilkenny with 6 % , I doubt they’ll make it , same to happen to SF throughout the country , ‘ almost made it’ , read, ‘ also ran’ .

    In the end it’s going to be the sleepless, despairing, begging and praying Condemned of Fianna Fail wailing , with loud supplications to the Blessed Virgin, ‘ the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost’ beating their breasts with sorrow , for a reprieve, versus FG + Labour beating them down like dogs.

    Result : FG + Labour government but not a landslide on the proportions forecast by the pollsters, not at all .

  15. @Paddy Healy , but don’t listen to me regarding South Tipp/West Waterford, Healy could make it there on the basis that he is a long time trying , not on foot of some new ULA Leftist orientation conceived in Dublin snugs , people there are singularly unimpressed with new parties , especially when they emanate from Dublin . My father hailed from Rathgormack in the Comeragh foothills up the road from Carrick-on-Suir . so I know the people , even related to many there .

    Out in the Comeraghs you have the benefit of fresh air and thus clear thinking, Dublin and your working class divides don’t somehow work in those beautiful God-given places, and if Healy behaves as a son of the Land he will make it , but if he runs as an aparatchik of those-who-know-better-what’s-good-enough for us-in-the country, he won’t .

    Not where they still speak of Dan Breen with pride!

  16. BTW I wish to thank the Journalism students of Ormonde College, Kilkenny, for their work on that Kilkenny People poll , under the guidance of their lecturer , Sean Hurley , retired Editor of the Kilkenny People, former correspondent to all the national media including RTE, Sean was offered several positions on the Dublin national newspapers throughout the years and declined the lot. He would be well known and respected by many colleagues in the Irish NUJ in which throughout his career he held almost every position at one stage or another. He is non political party. And, yes, he would easily be the match of any pollster in Dublin! The Poll was directed by Sean Keane, Deputy Editor of the Kilkenny People, son of John B , who else in an Irish election!

  17. @Michael McGrath
    These projections have FF in Carlow/Kilkenny at 22% the constituency has them at 24%. That isn’t a major difference and could be down to nothing more than statistical varaince.

    The Martin bounce you keep referring to may be non-existent.

  18. Michael,
    I think you have spent too much time with the “cats”. To clear your head, you need a period down around the Mahon Falls agus tréimshe ag cloisint le gaelinn binn blasta na Déise is ag éisteacht le áine uí cheallaigh is í ag canadh “Sliabh Geal Gua”
    After that you will realise that the United Left Alliance is not a “fathach uafásach ag bagairt ort” but a “spéir-bhean ag teacht chughat san oíche”
    Beir Bua!

  19. With Micheal Martin leading at 31% for Taoiseach this morning, that Martin bounce is there alright , big time!
    You can feel it in the yellow-blue winter sunlight that we’re enjoying at the moment !

    The problem as I see it is that the people don’t trust Fianna Fail now – but they never trusted Enda Kenny. )utsikde of the party percentage at all , John McGuinness and Bobby Aylward should score 30% between them,easily, in Carlow-Kilkenny and get back with the help of transfers from the third FF candidate and the Green Mary White.
    – and watch the Sinn Fein transfers to FF on that party’e eliminations.

    Anyway , I vote for this fellow as Taoiseach, from Connecticut in the USA. born in Luton, England, he came, saw and conquered, ladies and gentlemen I give you All-Ireland Champion John Whelan who even beat the legendary Joe Burke of Galway ( I follow it as I played myself until it almost destroyed me in the pubs, like Biffo! )

  20. The Deise , Paddy – sure they waylaid and robbed bishops down there in the Good Old Days!

    Ta gra mor agam ar na Deisi, go mor mhor ar lucht Dun Garbhain ( istigh san Banalana pub), agus An Rinn, do bhi cara agam ansin, an t-Uasal Seamas MacCraith agus a chlann, Drui a bhiomar , Drui fior Eireannach ni ” New Age” .

    D’Oscail me Feile na Deise i nDun Garbhain mar Drui na h-Eireann siar sa bhliain 1995 .

    Anois, Blast eile :

  21. And, yes, Paddy , Seamus Healy should be elected in South Tipp , he deserves to be, but he would have been elected anyway , in mo thuairim, and much faster too without this ULA Trotskyist appendage.

    One wonders , maybe Trotskyism a la RBB , or Stalinism a la Joe Higgins, could indeed be the answer to our present crisis, go bfhoire Dia orainn!

  22. @Paddy Healy, So, Paddy, to round of a perfect Sunday morning here in Ireland , to seize this glorious opportunity to play Biffo out – he’ll have plenty of time to practise on the box now , as it’s my belief that he’ll go altogether on Tuesday, Please God, the one and only , the legendary Joe Burke of Galway :

  23. Maith an fear, a Mhichael. Fan a bhfuil caint, ceol, craic agus ol ann beidh spe againn.

    I think the electoral speculation is great sport, but anything up to 40 seats could be decided on a handful of votes – and votes from transfers well down the pecking order. It could take a week of recounts – and Court sittings – to sort this out.

  24. If there is anymore of this “caint, ceol, craic agus ól” we will not be at Mahon Falls or sa Rinn. We will have to take the cure at Mount Melleray. And you will have to stay away from “The Cats” there also, Michael

  25. It is very unclear and probably one of the hardest elections to call. One can see that FG are the more ‘popular’ party but the electorate who would have previously voted FF will be very indecisive which could prove very beneficial to FF and its ‘hard core’ support. Some of the electorate whom I’ve spoken with, are undecided, some will still vote FF because of the constituency gains, and others won’t vote for FF because of their previous policies although regret not being able to support the hard working FF TD in cork south central. I think FF will do better than anticipated on poll day but who really knows.

    Politics and the system has become to populus and needs a major system overhaul. Too much promising/giving and no education within the Dail. Educating the electorate needs to be a priority, I would naively suggest some sort of public finance or other subject for the leaving cert. Those running in the future should have more political qualification and less “I’m a successfully, well-known business person in the area”. Perhaps without proper knowledge and education, this democratic systems is over- rated.(extremely controversial statement).

  26. In the end I didn’t need Mount Melleray , though I have adjourned there assisting the Irish Wheelchair Association, for a day out to enjoy the wild quiet solitude, recommend it to everybody – especially to Biffo , the man who committed the one single greatest blunder in Irish history , well it’s between him and Eoin Rua at the Battle of Kinsale- maybe throw Eoin MacNeill into the reckoning for calling off the Easter Rising.

    No, Mssr. Helicobacter Pylori put an end to my days of sojourn in the Balalana and such delightful passages into Otherworld around the country, and , one good outcome is that the ESB bill is paid on the nail ever since!
    The ULA ? Joe Higgins and Seamus Healy elected , that’s that , fag mar ata agus mar a bhi.

    We should have had some sort of a constitutional brake to stop Cowan and Lenihan that fatal night for Ireland of the 29th September 2008 when they took Sean Fitzpatrick’s advice( the advice of David McWilliams too, that’s why he won’t step forward in Dun Laoire! ) and implemented the Bank Guarantee to Anglo Irish and the other Duds. Ireland went straight over the cliff then , I groaned when I heard the news on Morning Ireland the following day.

    C’mon Biffo , and Lenihan too! – can’t you hear Joe Burke playing you out! Kindly F**k off forever !!!

    • “We should have had some sort of a constitutional brake to stop Cowan and Lenihan that fatal night for Ireland of the 29th September 2008”

      Yes, definitely some constitutional brake was needed. The closest thing we have to this is the provision for a legislative referendum in article 27 of the constitution. This allows a majority of Senators and a 1/3 of TDs to petition the President on a bill of “such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained”, which then allows the President purely at her own discretion to call a binding referendum on the bill. Unfortunately the way the Seanad is structured the government of the day almost certainly has a majority. Hence this provision has never been used. Even if non-government parties somehow had a Seanad majority at the time of the guarantee I doubt this provision would have been used. There was though some talk of this provision at the time of the NAMA bill. If the Seanad had been structured differently it might perhaps have been used then.

      IMO the best solution would be some provision for citizens to call referenda on government bills. Perhaps, similar to the Swiss setup, the signatures of 100,000 citizens gathered within three months of a bill being passed would trigger an automatic referendum. Perhaps a 2/3 majority against would block the bill. I like the idea of having some direct democracy mechanisms in the constitution, but would set the bar higher than a simple 50% majority. If the populace are overwhelmingly against something I’d feel it should be stopped. But if the electorate is fairly evenly split on something then I’d feel the choice should be left to parliamentarians, hence my preference for a 2/3 supermajority to override parliament.

  27. Support for all parties has fluctuated over the past two years more than it has done in the history of the state. The current support figures are likely to be very soft and we can expect further dramatic fluctuations before polling day.

    So polls, and particularly constituency predictions,should not really be allowed distract those of us interested in politics (as opposed to arithmetic) to much. This ain’t a micro story (though obviously on count day the micro story will be of some interest!)

  28. Pingback: Ambition in government « William Quill

  29. I agree with Finbar. I have been advocating a two pronged approach to improve accountability of governments. Firstly, the Dail term should be reduced to 3 years. This would limit the damage that a government under pressure from the super-rich and the Irish establishment could do.It would also deter governments from intrducing measures damaging to the population. Secondly, I advocated some kind of popular initiative which could lead to a general election. Finbars proposal for the calling of a referendum on a bill by 100,000 people might be a better alternative. While a 51% vote against should not be sufficient to block a bill, I think that a 2/3 majority is too large a target to effectively deter governments. I suggest a 60% requirement.

    • 60% sounds ok. Or one could follow the original citizens’ initiative provision in the Free State constitution, which required either an absolute majority of all voters on the electoral register, or failing that, at least a two thirds majority of those that actually voted.

      Am not a big fan of Seanad abolition, but if FG succeed in their aim for this, an interesting question will be how they intend to modify article 27. Will a legislative referendum provision be kept? This could become quite useful if 1/3 of Dáil members could petition the president for a referendum on a bill. As Fine Gael points out in its own policy document, Denmark has a very similar provision where a 1/3 of MPs can ask for a legislative referendum. In the absence of a second chamber, the need for constitutional brakes would be even greater.

      On shorter terms, members of congress in the US only have 2 year terms. But this is counterbalanced by senators with 6 year terms and a president with an intermediate 4 year term. There are pros and cons to all these ideas (even direct democracy: one can have too much of a good thing, e.g. California). In one sense, shorter terms make public representatives more accountable, as do recall elections. But a downside is that their thinking is incentivized to be very short-term, just as far as the next election, or constantly looking over their shoulder if there could be a recall. Even in the US the parties are almost on a constant election footing with elections every two years. In a presidential system there’s much to be said for having a long six or seven year term with no possibility of re-election, so the person doesn’t have to worry about going back again to the voters. Promotes longer range thinking but is less accountable also. So most systems end up being some kind of compromise, either having intermediate 4 or 5 year terms, or having both long and short terms for different arms of government (as in the US setup).

  30. Paddy, whilst a three year term may allow accountability and less damage (though this is extremely debatable), from experience it is quite hard to get anything of a large scale done within five years never mind three. Imagine the chaos and ” dail cultural” change on such a frequent basis..along with campaigning would require more time door to door than sitting.

  31. Applying the approach that I outlined in the post here on 9 December last, which applies the figures at national level rather than trying to predict every individual constituency, and averaging the two weekend polls (Millward Brown in Sunday Independent and Red C in Sunday Business Post), suggests that if those figures were repeated in the election the breakdown of seats would be in the order of FF 27, FG 59, Lab 41, SF 20, Others 19. Meaning that a Labour–SF coalition would be a long way short of a majority, but a FG minority government with FF support would have a 6-seat overall majority.

  32. Going by the only other published poll in the country catrried out by the Kilkenny People newspaper last week BM ( Before Martin) that put FF at 24% and carefully adding on a Martin bounce factor of a minimal 3 % , I extrapolate from that Fianna Fail at circa 27% in the country constituencies outside of Dublin.
    I hold that all polls up to this over the past several months are massively Dublin-biased, we shall see this on the day of the count. I think the Dublin bias is resulting from the polling companies carrying out face-to-face interviews in Dublin , but simply going down phonelines to everywhere outside Dublin , probably in their own cost-cutting exercises that they haven’t told us about.
    But it’s there!

  33. I don’t agree with the argument that a government can’t do anything in 3 years. Often there is an underlying assumption that productive things can only be done while popular pressure is removed. This is an elitist view which denigrates the general judgement of the electorate. After all,if a government were re-elected, it would have a minimum of 6 years to “do anything”! It is not just the government, but the Irish elite as a whole which is responsible for the mess. All Irish elites were represented on the National Economic and Social Council and on the Board of the Central Bank and on the Board of Fás etc.
    There is no choice but to increase direct accountability to the people.There has been no real difference between governments since 1948. It is the perceived impossibility of national change that generates Lowryism or localism. Increased accountability to the people may have problems until you consider any alternative!

  34. It is not so much our Irish ‘ elites’ that we should look at , but rather the practices of Irish society itself at all levels based on the general outlook on life and our everyday world that informs our behaviour, especially our set of values.

    I find that there is a massive concentration at all levels of Irish society on the wealth of our children , in particular there is an inordinate concern about the money and property they will have after we are dead and gone.

    I find it irrational that this concern for the material wealth of children after we are dead is now more pronounced than ever in the midst of recession that will probably right itself inside in the next ten years. You don’t get anywhere near this concern in other societies, not amongst our next door neighbours in the UK, nor in France or Germany either , societies with which I am familiar.

    Virtually all of our leading politicians are the worst ‘ offenders’ in this , amassing fortunes for their children. It could be argued that this led to all of the corruption , not only amongst them but amongst the leading capitalists in our society as well .

    Most of them had all the wealth that they would ever need for their remaining years in this life, but they all suffered a lust to make more and more to stretch way beyond the grave, to such an extent that it ceased to make sense years ago.

    I wonder therefore if the answer is for us to select and elect single men and women to lead us in future, commencing with this election ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s