Irish Independent-Millward Brown (2nd Feb) and Irish Times-Ispos MRBI (3 Feb) polls

Adrian Kavanagh, 1st-2nd February 2011

The opinion poll in the 2nd February edition of the Irish Independent estimated party support as follows: FF 16%, FG 30%, LAB 24%, GP 1%, SF 13%, OTH 15%.  Based solely on these poll figures, my constituency level analysis estimates party seat levels as follows: Fianna Fail 23, Fine Gael 64, Labour 45,  Green Party 0, Sinn Fein 14, Others 20.  While these figures proved to be quite different to the Red C-Paddy Power poll figures released on the same day, these poll figures proved to be quite similar to the Ispos-MRBI poll figures published in the following day’s Irish Times: FF 15%, FG 33%, LAB 24%, GP 1%, SF 12% and OTH 15%, based on which figures I estimated party seat levels as follows: Fianna Fail 21, Fine Gael 68, Labour 44, Green Party 0, Sinn Fein 13, Others 20.

Seat levels for different coalition options would stand as follows: Fine Gael/Labour 109 seats (majority of 52 seats), Fine Gael/”Right-leaning” Independents-Others 73 seats, Fine Gael/Fianna Fail 87 (majority of 8 seats), Fianna Fail/Labour 68 seats, Fianna Fail/Labour/Sinn Fein 82 seats, “Left Coalition” 68 seats, Fine Gael/Green Party 64 seats, Fine Gael/”Right-leaning” Independents-Others/Green Party 73 seats.

As suggested above, the Others grouping is a very broad church, involving a number of left-leaning independents and smaller parties (including the United Left Alliance grouping), as well as business/reform independents and disaffected former members of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour. The model would guesstimate that 11 of the 20 seats allocated to Others would fall to left-leaning independents/smaller parties, including six seats for United Left Alliance candidates (Barry – Cork NC, Daly – Dublin N, Collins – Dublin SC, Higgins – Dublin W, Boyd Barret – Dun L, Healy – Tipperary S).

These poll figures are not substantially different from the opinion polls carried out over the previous two months, although offering a slightly more sobering picture for Fine Gael, whose support levels dip by a few per cent relative to polls carried out at the weekend. Fianna Fáil would be likely to lose nearly three-quarters of the seats the party won in 2007 and the Green Party would be expected to lose all of the party’s six seats should these poll figures be replicated in a subsequent general election.

The proportion of seats won by parties in Irish general elections does not tend to measure up exactly to their actual share of the first preference vote (although the system is decidedly more proportional than its UK counterpart), mainly because party’s first preference votes need to be filtered through the system of Irish electoral constituencies. In order to address this question, in my constituency-level analysis I attempt to estimate what party first preference votes would be in different constituencies, assuming a uniform swing across all constituencies – a similar (proportional) change to the national swing in party vote shares in all constituencies. How does this work? Well, for instance, Fianna Fail’s share of the vote is estimated in this poll to now stand at just two-fifths of the level of support that the party won in 2007, while Labour support is estimated to be just under two and half times the vote share that the party won in the last election. So for any constituency, the Fianna Fail support levels would be estimated at two-fifths of the percentage support levels achieved by Fianna Fail in 2007 in that constituency and the Labour support level in that would be estimated at just under two and half times the 2007 percentage support levels. Support levels for all other parties are calculated in the same manner, and then these constituency estimates are standardised so that these all add up to 100.0% exactly in all constituencies.

This of course is a very rough model, and ignores the fact that changing support levels between elections tend to vary geographically, even within specific provinces or regions, and also the impact that territory transfers, brought in by the 2007 Constituency Commission report, would have on vote share (although changing numbers of seats are taken account of). Based on these estimated figures, I proceed to guesstimate the destination of seats in the different constituencies in each of the different region/provinces and then to aggregate these to complete the national estimates.

My estimates as to what parties’ shares of the first preference votes in the different constituencies would be:

  FF FG LB GP SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 22.4% 39.7% 27.1% 2.1% 8.7% 0.0%
Cavan-Monaghan 14.0% 33.0% 2.8% 0.7% 36.1% 13.5%
Clare 19.3% 44.0% 4.3% 1.2% 7.3% 23.9%
Cork East 13.0% 30.1% 44.0% 0.6% 11.3% 1.1%
Cork North Central 11.7% 25.7% 24.8% 0.6% 13.0% 24.3%
Cork North West 27.2% 56.2% 15.5% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Cork South Central 19.9% 36.4% 25.6% 2.1% 11.2% 4.9%
Cork South West 18.3% 44.1% 25.5% 1.6% 10.6% 0.0%
Donegal North East 20.0% 25.7% 12.8% 0.3% 33.9% 7.2%
Donegal South West 20.8% 27.0% 7.1% 0.3% 42.5% 2.4%
Dublin Central 14.7% 9.0% 25.6% 1.1% 14.8% 34.9%
Dublin Mid West 14.3% 23.7% 29.1% 2.6% 19.5% 10.9%
Dublin North 17.8% 16.9% 25.0% 3.9% 5.5% 30.8%
Dublin North Central 16.5% 27.4% 16.8% 1.1% 6.9% 31.3%
Dublin North East 14.9% 24.5% 34.9% 1.4% 24.3% 0.0%
Dublin North West 16.6% 9.6% 42.4% 0.5% 26.0% 4.8%
Dublin South 20.1% 37.8% 31.2% 3.0% 7.1% 0.8%
Dublin South Central 9.8% 12.2% 38.7% 1.0% 14.7% 23.7%
Dublin South East 12.0% 22.1% 42.7% 3.2% 9.6% 10.4%
Dublin South West 12.7% 18.5% 39.8% 0.7% 19.1% 9.2%
Dublin West 11.9% 18.5% 33.5% 0.7% 7.4% 27.9%
Dun Laoghaire 13.0% 25.1% 36.8% 1.6% 4.0% 19.6%
Galway East 17.4% 48.9% 8.4% 0.5% 6.8% 18.0%
Galway West 13.1% 20.5% 24.0% 1.1% 5.1% 36.2%
Kerry North-W Limerick 10.1% 29.7% 21.7% 0.3% 32.1% 6.0%
Kerry South 13.4% 23.6% 27.3% 0.3% 5.6% 29.7%
Kildare North 13.4% 20.6% 36.5% 0.9% 4.0% 24.6%
Kildare South 21.2% 20.6% 53.7% 1.4% 0.0% 3.0%
Laois-Offaly 30.5% 42.3% 7.9% 0.3% 13.5% 5.4%
Limerick City 22.4% 33.4% 29.2% 0.7% 9.4% 4.9%
Limerick    24.0% 57.8% 17.6% 0.7% 0.0% 0.0%
Longford-Westmeath 15.8% 33.9% 41.7% 0.4% 7.3% 1.0%
Louth 17.6% 35.0% 12.8% 1.8% 30.6% 2.2%
Mayo 13.6% 61.6% 14.7% 0.2% 9.9% 0.0%
Meath East 16.3% 27.7% 27.5% 0.6% 7.2% 20.6%
Meath West 23.0% 36.8% 11.1% 0.6% 24.4% 4.1%
Roscommon-S Leitrim 14.7% 42.1% 27.1% 0.4% 15.4% 0.3%
Sligo-N Leitrim 16.9% 46.2% 9.9% 0.7% 23.6% 2.7%
Tipperary North 9.6% 12.7% 17.7% 0.2% 5.1% 54.7%
Tipperary South 7.1% 16.0% 14.4% 0.2% 4.0% 58.3%
Waterford 17.7% 29.6% 26.5% 0.4% 12.4% 13.4%
Wexford 16.3% 34.9% 32.8% 0.3% 13.9% 1.8%
Wicklow 6.6% 18.6% 28.3% 1.2% 6.8% 38.5%

And I would guesstimate seat levels per constituency to break down as follows:

  FF FG LB GP SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 1 2 2      
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 2 2      
Dublin South Central     3   1 1
Dublin South East 1 1 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   4 1      
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 23 64 45 0 14 20

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, please visit my election statistics website.)

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 could win 20 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 over the past two months.  Should Sinn Fein’s support levels in the capital fall back towards their General Election 2007 levels then there is a strong chance that Labour could win some 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 a large number of the Dublin consituencies with prospects of winning three in Dublin South Central.

This analysis basically assumes the geography of support for each party will remain the same as in 2007, but this of course will not be the case and changes in party support levels will exceed national trends to significant levels in a number of constituencies, in part reflecting changing political competition levels in different constituencies – for instance, recent changes in the Laois-Offaly constituency would leave Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley better placed to win a seat there than is suggested by this model, while an extra few years of building a political base in Dublin Central would leave Pascal Donohoe better placed to take a seat there for Fine Gael than is suggested by these figures. Similarly, a “Martin-mo” surge in Cork could see Fianna Fail winning more seats in that area than the model suggests including a second seat in the Martin’s Cork South Central constituency, while it remains to be seen what the impact of promotion to the Fianna Fail front benches will be on the prospects of candidates such as Averil Power (Dublin North East) and Mary Fitzpartrick (Dublin Central). Political change amongst certain social groups will also impact and a “breakfast roll man”-like swing from Fianna Fail to Labour could increase the likelihood of Labour candidates in commuter-belt areas, such as Lorraine Higgins (Galway East), James Heffernan (Limerick) and Ged Nash (Louth) taking seats in this election, over and above what the model is predicting.

Candidate selection will have a bearing on the ability of parties to translate support levels into seats – for instance a 13-14 per cent support level would be expected to give a party a strong chance of winning a seat in a 5-seat constituency but not if that party vote is split between two or more candidates.

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.
      
Addendum:
Constituency support estimates based on Irish Times-Ispos/MRBI (3rd February) poll figures:
  FF FG LB GP SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 21% 43% 27% 2% 8% 0%
Cavan-Monaghan 13% 36% 3% 1% 33% 14%
Clare 18% 47% 4% 1% 7% 23%
Cork East 12% 33% 43% 1% 10% 1%
Cork North Central 11% 28% 25% 1% 12% 24%
Cork North West 25% 60% 15% 1% 0% 0%
Cork South Central 18% 39% 25% 2% 10% 5%
Cork South West 17% 47% 25% 2% 10% 0%
Donegal North East 19% 29% 13% 0% 32% 7%
Donegal South West 20% 30% 7% 0% 40% 2%
Dublin Central 14% 10% 26% 1% 14% 35%
Dublin Mid West 13% 26% 29% 3% 18% 11%
Dublin North 17% 19% 25% 4% 5% 31%
Dublin North Central 15% 30% 17% 1% 6% 31%
Dublin North East 14% 27% 35% 1% 23% 0%
Dublin North West 16% 11% 43% 1% 25% 5%
Dublin South 18% 41% 31% 3% 6% 1%
Dublin South Central 9% 13% 39% 1% 14% 24%
Dublin South East 11% 24% 42% 3% 9% 10%
Dublin South West 12% 20% 40% 1% 18% 9%
Dublin West 11% 20% 33% 1% 7% 28%
Dun Laoghaire 12% 27% 36% 2% 4% 19%
Galway East 16% 52% 8% 0% 6% 17%
Galway West 12% 22% 24% 1% 5% 36%
Kerry North-W Limerick 9% 33% 22% 0% 30% 6%
Kerry South 12% 26% 27% 0% 5% 29%
Kildare North 12% 22% 36% 1% 4% 24%
Kildare South 20% 23% 53% 1% 0% 3%
Laois-Offaly 28% 46% 8% 0% 12% 5%
Limerick City 21% 36% 29% 1% 9% 5%
Limerick    22% 61% 17% 1% 0% 0%
Longford-Westmeath 15% 37% 41% 0% 7% 1%
Louth 17% 39% 13% 2% 28% 2%
Mayo 12% 65% 14% 0% 9% 0%
Meath East 15% 30% 27% 1% 7% 20%
Meath West 21% 40% 11% 1% 22% 4%
Roscommon-S Leitrim 13% 45% 27% 0% 14% 0%
Sligo-N Leitrim 16% 50% 10% 1% 21% 3%
Tipperary North 9% 14% 18% 0% 5% 55%
Tipperary South 7% 17% 14% 0% 4% 58%
Waterford 16% 32% 26% 0% 11% 13%
Wexford 15% 38% 32% 0% 13% 2%
Wicklow 6% 20% 28% 1% 6% 38%
Party seats levels per constitency, based on guesstimates linked to the above constituency support estimates:
  FF FG LB GP SF OTH
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 2   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 2 2      
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   3       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   4 1      
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 21 68 44 0 13 20
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9 thoughts on “Irish Independent-Millward Brown (2nd Feb) and Irish Times-Ispos MRBI (3 Feb) polls

  1. Please God there isn’t going to be polls everyday as it will all get very tiresome and meaningless if that’s the case – the polls will go all over the place between now and polling day as the media whip up various storms to fill time and space in the 24/7 news age – so I think everyone needs to step away from the polling machine for the moment.

  2. There is an interesting little dip here in the Fine Gael share of first preference votes – perhaps caused by the Labour Party weekend attacks on Enda Kenny’s organisation.

    Gilmore was under pressure to talk left after the negative reaction to the Róisín Shortall (“rag-bag” “motley crew”) and Joan Burton (“Should I call you your MEP-ship?”) television assaults on left-wing rivals.

    I wonder did the Irish Independent pollsters ask a question on repudiating the EU – IMF bondholders’ bailout? Recent polls indicated a large majority favoured burning the bondholders, the policy of the United Left Alliance and Sinn Féin.

    Today a change in the Labour and Fine Gael tone on this question was very apparent – on the RTÉ Radio 1 News at One programme Joan Burton and James Reilly said they would “re-negotiate” with the EU and IMF if they form a government after the February 25 Election.

    PS

    Marian Finucane, on her Sunday morning radio show (RTÉ Radio 1, January 30) made the gaffe of the campaign so far by misquoting the Labour Dublin West Deputy Joan Burton challenging Joe Higgins of the United Left Alliance if he wanted to be addressed as “your MEP-ness”. A Freudian Slip?

  3. A lot of very interesting material in your analysis – but what’s the margin of error? If it’s 2 points either way, then Fine Gael’s suppport may be unchanged at 32% since the last poll, with 34% appearing in one and 30% in the other. What matters most is what happens over several polls, whether a party stays in the same percentage vicinity or is consistently moving upwards or downwards. So roll on more polls – not every two days, but two a week will certainly keep a lot of us at our sums!

  4. Surprisingly few independants ran in 2007 (compared to previous), this whole analysis is based on who ran in 2007. This election, more than any other will be all about independants bouyed by an electorate tired with ALL of the current body politic. At a minimum re-do the 0% others constituencies once nominations close on Wed 9th !

  5. Interesting analysis.Howerver, model appears to show no Labour seat for Eamonn Gilmore in Dun Laoire, despite 36% of the vote. Is this realistic?

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