Analysis of Ispos-MRBI polls, July 2011 – good news for Fine Gael and Norris

Adrian Kavanagh, 20th and 21st July 2011

The Ispos-MRBI polls, published in the July 20th and July 21st editions of The Irish Times offers good news for Fine Gael and David Norris. My constituency level analysis suggest Fine Gael would win just enough seats to form a single party government based on these figures, while analysis of the presidential election poll figures suggests a win for Norris, who would be predicted to win the election, finishing over 90,000 votes ahead of Gay Mitchell on the final count.

The latest edition of the Irish Times Ispos-MRBI series of opinion polls almost mirrors recent Red C and Millward Brown opinion polls and offers very good news for Fine Gael whose support levels remain strong some months after February’s general election. Applying my constituency level analysis to these figures, seat estimates based on the simulated constituency support estimates suggest that Fine Gael could win a sufficient number of seats to form a majority single-party government if these figures were to be replicated in an election held today. The July 21st Irish Times Ispos-MRBI poll puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings as follows: Fine Gael 38% (up 1% relative to the last Ispos-MRBI poll on 18th February 2011), Labour 18% (down 1%), Fianna Fail 18% (up 2%), Sinn Fein 10% (down 1%), Green Party 2% (as was), Independents and Others 14% (down 1%).

Based solely on assigning seats on the basis of the constituency support estimates (simply using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats), party seat levels would be estimated as follows: Fine Gael 78, Labour 30, Fianna Fail 30, Sinn Fein 8, Green Party 0, Others 20. When the factors of vote transfers and vote splitting/management (based on vote transfer/management patterns oberved in the February 2011 election) are accounted for and constituency marginality levels at the February 2011 election taken account of, the party seat levels would more than likely be as follows: Fine Gael 83, Labour 32, Fianna Fail 22, Sinn Fein 16, Green Party 0, Others 13.

The constituency support estimates based on the poll figures are as follows:

FF FG LB SF GP OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 29% 41% 15% 9% 3% 4%
Cavan-Monaghan 20% 41% 5% 26% 1% 7%
Clare 23% 44% 14% 0% 2% 17%
Cork East 17% 39% 29% 11% 1% 3%
Cork North Central 16% 28% 25% 15% 1% 15%
Cork North West 25% 50% 13% 7% 2% 3%
Cork South Central 29% 36% 17% 8% 3% 7%
Cork South West 24% 50% 13% 7% 2% 4%
Donegal North East 18% 33% 10% 25% 1% 14%
Donegal South West 23% 21% 5% 33% 1% 17%
Dublin Central 16% 21% 27% 13% 2% 21%
Dublin Mid West 12% 33% 29% 12% 4% 10%
Dublin North 16% 33% 25% 0% 9% 17%
Dublin North Central 13% 40% 21% 6% 1% 19%
Dublin North East 12% 31% 32% 12% 2% 10%
Dublin North West 12% 18% 41% 22% 1% 5%
Dublin South 10% 39% 17% 3% 7% 25%
Dublin South Central 10% 25% 33% 14% 2% 15%
Dublin South East 12% 38% 24% 4% 7% 16%
Dublin South West 11% 30% 34% 17% 1% 7%
Dublin West 17% 29% 27% 6% 2% 18%
Dun Laoghaire 16% 37% 28% 0% 4% 15%
Galway East 19% 45% 12% 6% 1% 17%
Galway West 22% 33% 12% 6% 2% 26%
Kerry North-West Limerick 12% 43% 18% 20% 1% 6%
Kerry South 14% 35% 10% 0% 1% 39%
Kildare North 15% 35% 27% 6% 2% 14%
Kildare South 22% 35% 26% 6% 1% 9%
Laois-Offaly 27% 35% 7% 11% 0% 19%
Limerick City 22% 45% 19% 9% 1% 5%
Limerick 21% 51% 16% 0% 1% 11%
Longford-Westmeath 20% 40% 25% 8% 1% 7%
Louth 16% 33% 18% 22% 5% 7%
Mayo 16% 66% 4% 6% 0% 6%
Meath East 20% 43% 19% 9% 1% 8%
Meath West 18% 47% 12% 17% 1% 3%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 15% 41% 9% 10% 1% 25%
Sligo-North Leitrim 22% 39% 9% 13% 1% 15%
Tipperary North 17% 25% 19% 6% 1% 31%
Tipperary South 14% 37% 10% 5% 1% 34%
Waterford 14% 40% 18% 10% 1% 17%
Wexford 19% 37% 19% 6% 1% 19%
Wicklow 11% 42% 16% 10% 2% 20%
STATE 18% 38% 18% 10% 2% 14%

Seat guesstimates based solely on these figures (using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency) and also taking account of the fact that Sean Barrett as Ceann Comhairle would be automatically re-elected in Dun Laoighaire, guaranteeing a Fine Gael seat there:

FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 1
Cavan-Monaghan 1 3 1
Clare 1 2 1
Cork East 1 2 1
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1
Cork North West 1 2
Cork South Central 2 2 1
Cork South West 1 2
Donegal North East 1 1 1
Donegal South West 1 1 1
Dublin Central 1 1 1 1
Dublin Mid West 2 2
Dublin North 2 1 1
Dublin North Central 2 1
Dublin North East 1 2
Dublin North West 2 1
Dublin South 3 1 1
Dublin South Central 1 2 1 1
Dublin South East 2 1 1
Dublin South West 1 2 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1
Galway East 1 2 1
Galway West 1 2 2
Kerry North-West Limerick 2 1
Kerry South 1 2
Kildare North 1 2 1
Kildare South 1 1 1
Laois-Offaly 2 2 1
Limerick City 1 2 1
Limerick 1 2
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 1
Louth 1 2 1 1
Mayo 1 4
Meath East 1 2
Meath West 1 2
Roscommon-South Leitrim 2 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 2
Tipperary North 1 1 1
Tipperary South 2 1
Waterford 2 1 1
Wexford 1 2 1 1
Wicklow 3 1 1
STATE 30 78 30 8 20

When the model is amended  to account for seats that may be won 0r lost on the basis of number of candidates (e.g. Others being allocated a seat in Laois-Offaly mainly due to the large number of independent candidates who contested this constituency), vote transfers and vote management (e.g. discrepancies between votes won by party front runners and their running mates which would see potential seat wins fall out of a party’s hands), the seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this:

FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 1 3 1 5
Cavan-Monaghan 1 3 1 5
Clare 1 2 1 4
Cork East 2 1 1 4
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 4
Cork North West 1 2 3
Cork South Central 1 3 1 5
Cork South West 1 2 3
Donegal North East 1 1 1 3
Donegal South West 1 1 1 3
Dublin Central 1 1 1 1 4
Dublin Mid West 2 1 1 4
Dublin North 2 1 1 4
Dublin North Central 1 1 1 3
Dublin North East 1 2 3
Dublin North West 1 1 1 3
Dublin South 3 1 1 5
Dublin South Central 1 2 1 1 5
Dublin South East 1 2 1 4
Dublin South West 1 2 1 4
Dublin West 1 1 1 1 4
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1 4
Galway East 1 3 4
Galway West 1 2 1 1 5
Kerry North-West Limerick 1 1 1 3
Kerry South 2 1 3
Kildare North 2 1 1 4
Kildare South 1 1 1 3
Laois-Offaly 2 2 1 5
Limerick City 1 2 1 4
Limerick 1 2 3
Longford-Westmeath 3 1 4
Louth 1 2 1 1 5
Mayo 1 4 5
Meath East 2 1 3
Meath West 2 1 3
Roscommon-South Leitrim 2 1 3
Sligo-North Leitrim 2 1 3
Tipperary North 1 1 1 3
Tipperary South 2 1 3
Waterford 1 2 1 4
Wexford 3 1 1 5
Wicklow 3 1 1 5
STATE 22 83 32 16 13 166

Even though support levels for Labour, Sinn Féin and Others groups have not changed significantly, the 1% loss of support by these parties added to increasing support levels for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael means that some of their more marginal seats are seen to fall into Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s hands, with Fianna Fáil predicted to gain two extra seats and Fine Gael six extra seats, leaving the latter with just enough seats to form a single party government.

The July 20th Irish Times Ispos-MRBI poll puts support for the main candidates expected to be in October’s presidential election contest as follows: David Norris 25%. Gay Mitchell 21%, Michael D. Higgins 18%, Sean Gallagher 13%, Mary Davis 12%, Eamonn Cuiv 11% with second preferences expected to go as follows based on the poll figures: David Norris 10%. Gay Mitchell 8%, Michael D. Higgins 14%, Sean Gallagher 9%, Mary Davis 10%, Eamonn Cuiv 4%, Non Transferable 45%. Based on these poll figures, I would predict that David Norris will win the election, beating Gay Mitchell on the final count by 533,329 votes to 442,550 votes.

First step in this model will be to estimate the turnout for the election. The turnout is likely to be lower than the turnout for the general election, but there will be likely to be more people voting than in the previous presidential election in 2007. Fortunately there was also a general election in 2007 and this can offer a yardstick to help guesstimate the turnout. The numbers turning out to vote increased by 24.1% between the general elections of 1997 (1,806,932 voting) and 2011 (2,243,176 voting). Applying the same level of increase to the number that turned out to vote in the presidential election of 1997 (1,279,688) gives us a  turnout of 1,588,641 voters.

Based on the poll figures and this estimated turnout value, the first count would be as follows:

First Count
Norris 397,160
Mitchell 333,615
Higgins 285,955
Gallagher 206,523
Davis 190,637
Cuiv 174,750

Following the elimination of Cuiv and distribution of his transfers (in line with second preference poll figures), the second count would be as follows:

Second Count
Norris 415,363
Mitchell 348,177
Higgins 311,440
Gallagher 222,906
Davis 208,840
Non-transferable 81,914

Following the elimination of Davis and distribution of her transfers, the third count would be as follows:

Third Count
Norris 439,647
Mitchell 367,604
Higgins 345,437
Gallagher 244,761
Non-transferable 191,191

Following the elimination of Gallagher and distribution of his transfers, the fourth count would be as follows:

Fourth Count
Norris 471,434
Mitchell 393,034
Higgins 389,939
Non-transferable 334,233

Following the elimination of Higgins and distribution of his transfers, the fourth count would be as follows:

Fifth Count
Norris 533,329
Mitchell 442,550
Non-transferable 612,761

Of course it must be noted that it is very much early days in terms of the presidential race. While two candidates have been formally nominated to contest the election by their parties (Higgins and Mitchell) and two other candidates (Gallagher and Davis) have attained sufficient endorsements from local authorities to be allowed to stand, we still do not know what the final line-up of candidates will look like. Indeed the current front-runner, David Norris, has not yet ensured that he will be a candidate, either via the Oireachtas nomination or the local authority nomination route. Indeed, with final nominations not being decided on until September, there is a chance that the actual winning candidate may not yet have entered the race! With the formal campaign will not starting until September, this race is still very much up for grabs.

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6 thoughts on “Analysis of Ispos-MRBI polls, July 2011 – good news for Fine Gael and Norris

  1. With due respects, this is silly season stuff – as David Norris does not even have a nomination yet. This is far too early for this kind of detailed analysis. Yes, the opinion poll results may help David Norris in his attempt to get a nomination and/or redouble the efforts of FG to get one of their people into the only elected office that the party has never held or take your pick from the kinds of things that passes the time for the political class……

    Even the posting has sufficient hints to suggest that this is more noise than signal – exactly the kind of thing that I would expect thread leaders on a site committed political reform would avoid, given that our way of governing ourselves has failed us.

    What about a checklist of the things the new Government could have done during the first 100 days and has not done? An example is the simple and direct repeal of the 2003 Freedom of Information Act – an item in the programme for government.

    What about the downgrading of the status of the Dáil by the taking away of the “state car” from the office of Ceann Comhairle?

    If the President, Taoiseach, Minister for Justice have “State cars” ex-officio – surely the leader of the directly elected representative assembly (ie. Dáil) should also have the same facility – ex-officio.
    Een if the current incumbent says that he does not want it, that is no reason to put the Ceann Comhairle at a lower level that other holders of major state offices?

    We need to balance the coverage of popular opinion (usually arising from polls paid for by media) with some harder thinking and questioning of the action and inaction of the powers-that-be.

    • David,
      Forgive my not referring to your thread (https://politicalreform.ie/2011/07/11/the-government%E2%80%99s-reform-measures-to-date-a-good-start-but-much-more-to-do/) which listed those parts of the Programme for Government that have been done – in whole or in part – and those which still remain to be tackled.

      I have been on holiday – in another small peripheral €urzone country – that is not in fiscal trouble, as far as I know!

      At this stage of the year, discussion moves to places like Glenties and then becomes very quiet during August. But August is a good time to watch the powers-that-be, as they sometimes release statements that they hope (I suspect) will just escape attention.

      In August 2010, the powers-that-be admitted that they had not followed policies appropriate to being in a single currency in a NESC report.

      “In the past decade, Ireland’s approach to fiscal policy, prices, costs and financial regulation were not sufficiently adapted to the disciplines of a single currency. “(http://www.nesc.ie/en/news-events/press-releases/latest/nesc-publishes-report-on-the-euro/)

      With this kind of admission, no wonder the markets took a poor view of how we govern ourselves which led to the EU-ECB-IMF intervention and the reform programme.

      But even that programme left plenty for us to do ourselves. We have the freedom to do. As WetheCitizens showed, resources can be found to keep the need for political and institutional reform in front of us.

      Let us see what emerges during the rest of the summer break.

  2. Donal is right that it’s too early to make such bold predictions, but it seems to me that a couple of issues will be important. The even spread of transfers is unrealistic, so who is in the race could be important. If Ó Cuiv is in the race this will mobilise a trad. FF vote that could go to Gallagher and then favour Mitchell over Norris. So Norris is better off with Ó Cuiv out.

    In your notional fourth count, Mitchell is ahead of Higgins by a small margin. When Higgins goes out we’d expect Norris to do very well, so for Norris to win he needs to stay ahead of Higgins but also for Higgins not to be the second place candidate. Were that to switch to Higgins being ahead of Mitchell in the penultimate count, Mitchell’s votes would favour Higgins more heavily because their two parties are in government together and they are both more establishment candidates (although we’d probably see large numbers of non-transferables).

  3. Well I enjoyed the analysis at any rate. I would add one thing though: I would expect FF to manage the vote much better the next time. In February, as everyone noticed, there were a few quotas not adding up to seats because neither of two (or three in some cases) established candidates would sacrifice themselves for the party and stand down in favour of the other, thereby splitting the vote. Assuming that Martin and his DoE can control things better in the next election, I would imagine just one FF candidate standing in most if not all of those constituencies where this occurred. Therefore, I could imagine adding (conservatively) three more seats to your amended tally.

    p.s. one might object that I am wrong for the reason that, in a PR system, the voters should have transferred to each other rendering a split vote effect unimportant. We, however, know better. Territories are split, the faithful are mobilised for one candidate only and so on.

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