Early September polls: Presidential election victory for Higgins and potential for a Fine Gael landslide?

Adrian Kavanagh, 4th September 2011

The Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll, published on 4th September offers varying fortunes for the two government parties, amounting to very good news for Fine Gael but dismal fortunes for Labour. My constituency level analysis suggest Fine Gael would win a landslide victory based on these figures if they transpired in an election and would easily win enough seats to form a single party government, with many of their seat gains to be at the expense of their coalition partners, although Labour would also be predicted to lose seats to Sinn Fein.  Better news is offered to Labour by the Red C-Paddy Power presidential election poll however, with my analysis suggesting that Michael D Higgins would win the election based on these figures, edging out Gay Mitchell on the final count by a margin of almost two hundred thousand votes.

This poll follows in the wake of recent Irish Times Ispos-MRBI, Red C and Millward Brown opinion polls in suggesting that Fine Gael support levels continue to remain strong over half a year after the February 2011 general election. Applying my constituency level analysis to these figures, seat estimates based on the simulated constituency support estimates suggest that Fine Gael would easily 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 September 4th Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings as follows: Fine Gael 44% (up 10% relative to the last such poll on 12th February 2011), Labour 12% (down 11%), Fianna Fail 15% (No Change), Sinn Fein 13% (down 1% – but up 3% relative to their GE performance), Green Party 2% (No Change), Independents and Others 12% (down 2%).

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 96, Labour 15, Fianna Fail 20, Sinn Fein 19, Green Party 0, Others 16. 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 93, Labour 18, Fianna Fail 18, Sinn Fein 21, Green Party 0, Others 16.

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

  FF FG LB SF GP OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 24% 47% 10% 12% 3% 3%
Cavan-Monaghan 16% 44% 3% 31% 1% 6%
Clare 20% 53% 9% 0% 2% 15%
Cork East 15% 46% 20% 15% 1% 3%
Cork North Central 14% 34% 17% 21% 1% 13%
Cork North West 21% 57% 8% 9% 1% 3%
Cork South Central 25% 43% 12% 11% 3% 6%
Cork South West 20% 57% 9% 9% 2% 3%
Donegal North East 14% 37% 6% 31% 1% 11%
Donegal South West 18% 23% 3% 41% 1% 14%
Dublin Central 14% 27% 19% 19% 2% 19%
Dublin Mid West 11% 40% 20% 16% 4% 9%
Dublin North 15% 42% 18% 0% 10% 16%
Dublin North Central 12% 48% 15% 8% 1% 16%
Dublin North East 11% 39% 23% 17% 2% 9%
Dublin North West 11% 22% 29% 31% 1% 5%
Dublin South 8% 46% 12% 4% 8% 22%
Dublin South Central 9% 31% 24% 19% 2% 14%
Dublin South East 10% 46% 17% 5% 8% 15%
Dublin South West 10% 36% 24% 24% 1% 6%
Dublin West 16% 37% 20% 9% 2% 17%
Dun Laoghaire 14% 46% 21% 0% 5% 14%
Galway East 16% 52% 8% 8% 1% 15%
Galway West 19% 39% 8% 9% 2% 23%
Kerry North-West Limerick 9% 48% 12% 25% 1% 5%
Kerry South 12% 43% 7% 0% 1% 36%
Kildare North 13% 44% 19% 8% 2% 13%
Kildare South 20% 43% 18% 8% 2% 8%
Laois-Offaly 23% 41% 5% 14% 0% 16%
Limerick City 18% 53% 12% 11% 1% 4%
Limerick 18% 60% 11% 0% 1% 10%
Longford-Westmeath 17% 48% 17% 10% 1% 6%
Louth 13% 37% 11% 28% 5% 6%
Mayo 12% 72% 3% 8% 0% 5%
Meath East 17% 50% 13% 12% 1% 7%
Meath West 15% 52% 8% 21% 1% 3%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 13% 47% 6% 13% 1% 21%
Sligo-North Leitrim 18% 44% 6% 17% 1% 13%
Tipperary North 16% 32% 14% 9% 1% 29%
Tipperary South 12% 44% 7% 6% 1% 30%
Waterford 12% 47% 12% 13% 1% 15%
Wexford 17% 44% 13% 8% 1% 17%
Wicklow 9% 49% 11% 13% 2% 17%
STATE 15.3% 44.9% 12.2% 13.3% 2.0% 12.2%

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 Laoghaire, guaranteeing an extra Fine Gael seat there:

  FF FG LB SF GP OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 1 3   1    
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2    
Clare 1 3        
Cork East   3 1      
Cork North Central   2 1 1    
Cork North West 1 2        
Cork South Central 2 3        
Cork South West 1 2        
Donegal North East   2   1    
Donegal South West   1   2    
Dublin Central   1 1 1   1
Dublin Mid West   2 1 1    
Dublin North   2 1     1
Dublin North Central   2       1
Dublin North East   2 1      
Dublin North West   1 1 1    
Dublin South   3 1     1
Dublin South Central   2 1 1   1
Dublin South East   2 1     1
Dublin South West   2 1 1    
Dublin West   2 1     1
Dun Laoghaire   3 1      
Galway East 1 3        
Galway West 1 3       1
Kerry North-West Limerick   2   1    
Kerry South   2       1
Kildare North 1 2 1      
Kildare South 1 2        
Laois-Offaly 1 2   1   1
Limerick City 1 3        
Limerick 1 2        
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 1      
Louth 1 2   2    
Mayo 1 4        
Meath East 1 2        
Meath West   2   1    
Roscommon-South Leitrim   2       1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 2        
Tipperary North   2       1
Tipperary South   2       1
Waterford   2   1   1
Wexford 1 3       1
Wicklow   3   1   1
STATE 20 96 15 19 0 16

When the model is amended  to account for seats that may be won 0r lost on the basis of a large/small number of candidates contesting the election (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 GP OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 1 3   1    
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2    
Clare 1 3        
Cork East   2 1 1    
Cork North Central   2 1 1    
Cork North West 1 2        
Cork South Central 2 3        
Cork South West 1 2        
Donegal North East   2   1    
Donegal South West   1   2    
Dublin Central   1 1 1   1
Dublin Mid West   2 1 1    
Dublin North   2 1     1
Dublin North Central   2       1
Dublin North East   2 1      
Dublin North West   1 1 1    
Dublin South   3 1     1
Dublin South Central   2 1 1   1
Dublin South East   2 1     1
Dublin South West   2 1 1    
Dublin West   2 1     1
Dun Laoghaire   3 1      
Galway East 1 3        
Galway West 1 3       1
Kerry North-West Limerick   2   1    
Kerry South   2       1
Kildare North   2 1     1
Kildare South 1 1 1      
Laois-Offaly 1 3   1    
Limerick City 1 3        
Limerick 1 2        
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 1      
Louth 1 2   2    
Mayo 1 4        
Meath East   2 1      
Meath West   2   1    
Roscommon-South Leitrim   2       1
Sligo-North Leitrim   2   1    
Tipperary North 1 1       1
Tipperary South   2       1
Waterford   2   1   1
Wexford 1 2 1     1
Wicklow   3   1   1
STATE 18 93 18 21 0 16

Even though support levels for Fianna Fail and Independents/Others  are seen not changed significantly relative to the general election result, the 1% loss of support by these parties added to increasing support levels for Sinn Fein (relative to the election, if not the previous poll) and Fine Gael means that some of their more marginal seats are seen to fall into Sinn Fein and Fine Gael’s hands, with both Sinn Fein and Fine Gael also predicted to gain seats as a result of Labour’s faltering support base, leaving the latter party with more than enough seats to form a single party government and the former in a position to establish themselves as the largest opposition party in the Dail. Just to the extent that these figures offer very good news for Sinn Fein and Fine Gael, these offer desultory news for Labour. Based on these figures, the Gilmore Gale has seemed to have well and truly blown itself out and the party seems to be returning the same support levels ‘enjoyed’ by the party at the general elections of 2002 and 2007.

*****************************************************************************************************

The September 8th Red C-Paddy Power poll (see details on this at politics.ie) puts support for the main candidates expected to be in October’s presidential election contest as follows: Gay Mitchell 24%, Michael D. Higgins 36%, Sean Gallagher 21%, Mary Davis 19 with second preferences expected to go as follows based on the poll figures: Gay Mitchell 20%, Michael D. Higgins 21%, Sean Gallagher 15%, Mary Davis 20%, Non Transferable 24%. Based on these poll figures, I would predict that Michael D. Higgins will win the election, beating Gay Mitchell on the final count by 714,864 votes to 517,420 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 1997. Fortunately there was also a general election in 1997 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:

Mitchell

381,274

Higgins

571,911

Gallagher

333,615

Davis

301,842

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

Mitchell

441,642

Higgins

635,297

Gallagher

378,891

   
Non-transferable

132,810

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

Mitchell

517,420

Higgins

714,864

   
Non-transferable

356,356

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, with final nominations not being decided on until later this month (with Sinn Féin highly likely to enter a candidate and the probability of one or two further independents entering the race), there is still a chance that the actual winning candidate may not yet have entered the race! With the formal campaign now officially started yet and with a number of candidates gaining ground across the different polls, this race is still very much up for grabs.

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7 thoughts on “Early September polls: Presidential election victory for Higgins and potential for a Fine Gael landslide?

  1. On those figures for Limerick City Lab 12% and SF 11% and as there is always a left seat in Limerick, i’d say either Lab of SF will take a seat. And on the basis of GE transfers form the minor candidates Quinlivan got more (if my memory serves me) than or similar to the 2 Lab candidates. So on these figures I’d say SF will shade it.

  2. 96 seats! Get real, that I assume you will never ever happen, nor will FG ever get an overall majority (I say that one one hand hoping I’m wrong but on the other perfectly aware FG has the same genetic flaw that made FF get so corrupt so in due course FG will be revealed as being just as corrupt – it’s local government base is well on the way) …

    The reason for Labour’s fall is easy to understand when you have Joan Burton tackling social welfare fraud from the bottom up and not the top down, when you have Ruairi Quinn doing nothing to address the great back to school book and costs rip off, when you have PAt Rabbitte allowing the ESB block the transfer of the national grid to a new energy authority that separates the production of our energy needs from those who sell it and when you have Brendan Howlin admit that he still has done nothing to get the full details from every department on the mind boggling range of perks enjoyed at all levels of the public sector.

    It’s no great shock that Richard Bruton feels it’s more important to gut the rights or pay levels of those at the lower end to maintain the profits of those at the top because you can be sure bolstered profits from lower wage costs and greater business will not be passed on in lower costs or improved wages again.

    The Labour Party was expected to soften the worse excesses of the right wing of FG but the reality has proven to be the opposite.

  3. A simple reasoning for this poll, FG are doing quite nicely due primarily to the fact that, at this present time, there is no effective opposition.

    Labours collapse can be explained quite easily also, they have proven to be pathetic in government and appear to be little more than nodding dogs to their new masters within FG.

    FF are yesterdays people, never again will the people be fooled by their ineptitude, Mickey Martin and Co, should do the only honorable thing available to them, DISBAND, their present members, should then consider joining any party that would have them.

    SF have proven to be more effectual in opposition than FF, maybe both those parties and possibly labour should merge and then form a genuine left of centre opposition to FG.

    All the other opposition members are irrelevant and are not worthy of comment

  4. Much commentary and analysis, especially in the media, appears to be based on a ‘politics as usual’ scenario. Except that we’re far from ‘politics as usual’, which is probably appreciated far more by the general public than the pundits. People understand by now that not alone do the Troika have power over what decisions are made, the MoU prescribes the order and priority of those decisions as well. Thus I believe the polls should be watched with care, since considerable volatility can be anticipated particularly if public morale dissipates further as well as disillusionment with the political establishment.

    As for the Labour Party, in the previous Dail Labour in opposition spent much of its time on bursts of in outrage about what was wrong and what it would do differently but expended precious little effort thinking through, or presenting, any viable, alternative policy options. It was all rhetoric peppered with a few wild and woolly notions, particularly in the crucial area of finance. Political capital was further squandered by Labour in the early days of this administration in public rows about position. If a reliance on past rhetorical flourish is all there is, then it should come as no surprise when performance in government proves dismal as well. FG don’t need to dictate policy and it’s hardly surprising in this context that Labour’s poll ratings should experience a crash so quickly. They’ve set themselves up for it.

  5. Pingback: Why is Gay Mitchell doing so badly?

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