Both above and below the Waterline: Varying results for Fine Gael-Labour coalition in Sunday Business Post-Red C (26 May) and Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll figures

Adrian Kavanagh, 13th-18th-26th-27th-29th May 2012

Three polls published over the weekend before the European Treaty referendum have produced rather mixed results for the government parties. A constituency level analysis of support based on the latest Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll estimates that the government parties would not win a sufficient level of seats to maintain a majority in the Dail if these support figures were replicated in a general election under the current constituency boundary arrangements, with party seat numbers estimated as: Fianna Fail 28, Fine Gael 65, Labour 14, Sinn Fein 36, Green Party 0,Independents, United Left Alliance and Other 23.  A constituency level analysis of support based on the latest Sunday Business Post-Red C poll, published a day ahead of the Ipsos-MRBI poll, estimates that the government parties would still muster a sufficient level of seats based on these reported support levels to maintain a majority in the Dail, despite the drop in support relative to the general election with party seat levels estimated as: Fianna Fail 29, Fine Gael 63, Labour 22, Sinn Fein 29, Independents, Green Party, United Left Alliance and Other 23.  A constituency level analysis of support based on the Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll, published on the same day as the Red C poll, estimates that the government parties would win enough seats to enjoy a reduced, yet still comfortable, majority in the Dail if these support figures were replicated in a general election under the current constituency boundary arrangements, with party seat numbers estimated as: Fianna Fail 26, Fine Gael 74, Labour 17, Sinn Fein 31, Green Party 0,Independents, United Left Alliance and Other 19  A series of polls held in the middle of May had offered dispiriting news for the government parties, with these all pointing to a loss of popularity for Labour and Fine Gael and especially in relation to those party’s results in the 2011 election. But the results of the two Red C polls had offered the government parties most concern, with these constituency-level analyses of the figures in these polls suggesting that a Fine Gael-Labour coalition would struggle to muster a sufficient number of Dail seats between the two parties to command a clear majority. In the case of the latest series of party support polls it is the Red C poll that offers most encouragement to the government parties, but particularly Labour, whose support is estimated to be five percentage points higher in this poll than in the Ipsos-MRBI poll.

Change in method: As opposed to the previous poll analyses carried out since General Election 2011, the analysis for the May 27th Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI and May 26th Sunday Business Post and Sunday Independent/Millward Brown polls, as well as the preceding Irish Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne and Paddy Power-Red C polls, does attempt to take account of the constituencies that Sinn Fein did not contest in February 2011, which is not an issue for any of the other parties or groupings studied here. Prior to this the base figure for Sinn Fein support for these constituencies as used in this model has been 0%, meaning that the model automatically predicts a 0% result for the party in those constituencies, something that would be highly unlikely to be the case in an actual general election contest as a Sinn Fein party with support levels being drawn from around one fifth of the Irish electorate would be hgihly likely to contest all constituencies. In order to address this issue, I have used the party’s percentage support levels for previous general election contests in this constituencies as a means of estimating the party’s support base/potential support there. In the case of four of the constituencies, the figure used is a relatively recent one for the previous general election contest in 2007 but the figure used for the Limerick constituency (or Limerick West as it was then) is for the 1992 contest, the most recent contest involving the party in that constituency, which is hardly ideal but at least does give a measure of party support based on an actual electoral outing. Including these figures has the effect of course of deflating model support estimates for other parties in the constituencies involved, but it does also increase the total/national Sinn Fein base figure and this has to be taken account of when calculating the level of swing evidenced in opinion poll figures relative to these base support level figures. This correction means that Sinn Fein Dail seat estimates may in some cases be less dramatic that would have been the case in previous versions of the model, as evidenced in the Sunday Business Post-Red C analaysis for instance.

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI  poll (27 May)

Fianna Fáil 17%, Fine Gael 32%, Labour 10%, Sinn Féin 24%, Green Party 2%, Independents and Others 15%

The figures in the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI (27th May) poll are somewhat different to the  the trends evident in the preceding Sunday Business Post poll, but most notably in relation to the Labour and Sinn Fein party support estimates, with Sinn Fein support in this poll estimated to be five percentage points higher than in the previous day’s Sunday Business Post-Red C poll while Labour support levels are estimated to be five percentage points lower. The constituency support estimates based on the application of this model to the opinion poll figures would be as follows:

  FF FG LB SF GP OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 27% 35% 8% 22% 3% 4%
Cavan-Monaghan 15% 28% 2% 48% 1% 6%
Clare 23% 39% 8% 9% 2% 19%
Cork East 17% 34% 17% 27% 1% 4%
Cork North Central 14% 22% 13% 34% 1% 15%
Cork North West 25% 45% 7% 18% 2% 3%
Cork South Central 28% 32% 10% 20% 3% 8%
Cork South West 24% 44% 8% 18% 2% 5%
Donegal North East 14% 23% 4% 46% 0% 12%
Donegal South West 16% 13% 2% 56% 1% 13%
Dublin Central 14% 17% 14% 30% 2% 21%
Dublin Mid West 12% 28% 16% 29% 4% 11%
Dublin North 17% 31% 15% 7% 10% 20%
Dublin North Central 14% 37% 13% 14% 2% 21%
Dublin North East 12% 27% 18% 29% 2% 11%
Dublin North West 11% 14% 21% 48% 1% 5%
Dublin South 10% 36% 10% 7% 8% 29%
Dublin South Central 9% 21% 19% 32% 2% 16%
Dublin South East 12% 36% 15% 10% 8% 19%
Dublin South West 10% 24% 18% 39% 1% 7%
Dublin West 18% 27% 16% 16% 2% 21%
Dun Laoghaire 17% 36% 18% 6% 5% 18%
Galway East 18% 39% 7% 15% 1% 20%
Galway West 21% 28% 6% 15% 2% 28%
Kerry North-West Limerick 10% 32% 9% 42% 1% 6%
Kerry South 13% 29% 6% 9% 1% 42%
Kildare North 16% 33% 17% 15% 2% 17%
Kildare South 23% 33% 16% 16% 2% 11%
Laois-Offaly 25% 28% 4% 24% 0% 19%
Limerick City 22% 40% 11% 21% 1% 5%
Limerick    23% 49% 10% 3% 1% 14%
Longford-Westmeath 21% 37% 15% 19% 1% 8%
Louth 13% 24% 8% 44% 4% 6%
Mayo 16% 58% 3% 15% 0% 7%
Meath East 20% 38% 11% 22% 1% 9%
Meath West 16% 37% 6% 37% 1% 3%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 14% 33% 5% 22% 0% 26%
Sligo-North Leitrim 20% 30% 5% 29% 1% 15%
Tipperary North 17% 22% 11% 15% 1% 34%
Tipperary South 13% 32% 6% 11% 1% 37%
Waterford 14% 34% 10% 23% 1% 18%
Wexford 19% 33% 11% 14% 1% 21%
Wicklow 10% 35% 9% 24% 2% 21%

Based on these constituency estimates, and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, while amending this to account for vote transfer patterns as well as constituencies where the 2011 party/independent vote was shaped in part by a relatively large number of candidates contesting the election (such as the large number of independent candidates contesting the Laois-Offaly 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 2 2   1    
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1   3    
Clare 1 2       1
Cork East 1 1 1 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   2    
Donegal South West 1     2    
Dublin Central   1 1 1   1
Dublin Mid West   2 1 1    
Dublin North 1 1 1     1
Dublin North Central   2       1
Dublin North East   1 1 1    
Dublin North West     1 2    
Dublin South   3 1     1
Dublin South Central   1 1 2   1
Dublin South East 1 2 1      
Dublin South West   1 1 2    
Dublin West 1 1 1     1
Dun Laoghaire   2 1     1
Galway East 1 2       1
Galway West 1 1   1   2
Kerry North-West Limerick   1   2    
Kerry South   1       2
Kildare North 1 1 1     1
Kildare South 1 1 1      
Laois-Offaly 1 2   1   1
Limerick City 1 2   1    
Limerick    1 2        
Longford-Westmeath 1 2   1    
Louth 1 2   2    
Mayo 1 3   1    
Meath East 1 1   1    
Meath West   2   1    
Roscommon-South Leitrim   1   1   1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 1   1    
Tipperary North 1 1       1
Tipperary South   1       2
Waterford   2   1   1
Wexford 1 2   1   1
Wicklow   3   1   1
STATE 28 65 14 36 0 23

The overall trend in these seat estimates differs significantly with those for the Sunday Business Post poll, but most notably in relation to the Sinn Fein and Labour party seat estimates. The low seat estimates for Labour relative to the seat levels won by that party in the 2002 and 2007 elections on similar support levels can be explained with reference to the significant rise of Fine Gael and Sinn Fein support over the same period, meaning these parties are now winning seats that would otherwise have fallen to Labour when these parties’ support levels were decidedly lower. In this case, due to the Labour poll figures, the government parties combined would not be able to amass a sufficent number of seats to command Dail majority based on these estimates (just 79 seats, leaving a potential minority Fine Gael-Labour government requiring the support of four other deputies to be able to retain power), but an alternative coalition involving Fine Gael and Fianna Fail would command a significantly larger majority in the Dail based on these figures (93 seats, or a majority of 20 seats). A Fine Gael-Sinn Fein alliance would also be able to muster enough Dail seats (101 seats) to command a majority (of 36 seats) in the Dail but such an alliance would seem to be highly unlikely. An alternative alliance between Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Labour would be able to muster just 78 seats based on these constituency support estimates and would require the support of five other Dail deputies (and also need another deputy to be willing to take on the role of Ceann Comhairle) for this rather unlikely alliance  to be able to take power. Ultimately any government not involving Fine Gael would seem to be rather unlikely based on recent polls.

The big winners in this poll are Sinn Fein whose estimated support level is seen to stand at almost two and a half times the level of support the party won only 15 months ago at the general election. In addition to the 36 seats predicted in this model, on these constituency support estimate figures the party would also be contesting strongly to win further seats in constituencies such as Cork North-West, Cork South-West, Dublin North-Central, Dublin West, Galway East, Kildare North, Kildare South and Tipperary North. So it is quite likely that the party would be in a position to win over forty seats in a general election based on a slightly higher level of support than that reported in the Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll figures.

This poll offers depressing news for the Labour Party, whose support level is estimated to be close to half that which the party won in the February 2011 election at a point when support levels for Fine Gael are estimated to be just four percentage points down on their general election support levels. What is also worrying for the party is the fact that the analysis predicts the party would win only three seats outside of Dublin with a number of senior party members in the constituencies outside Dublin predicted to lose their seats based on these figures and with even party leader, Eamonn Gilmore, predicted to face a tough struggle to retain his seat in his Dun Laoghaire constituency against Fianna Fail and People Before Profit especially given that this constituency now effectively becomes a three-seater due to the appointment of Sean Barrett as Ceann Comhairle.

Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (30 May)

Fianna Fáil 18%, Fine Gael 30%, Labour 15%, Sinn Féin 19%, Independents and Others 18%

The proportion of seats that might be won by parties/groupings, if these poll figures were to be replicated in an actual general election, will not measure up exactly to their actual share of the first preference vote, mainly because these first preference votes need to be filtered through a system of different Dáil constituencies of varying seat sizes, resulting in a significant degree of disproportionlity within the Irish system. In order to account for this, this model takes 2011 General Election support figures for different political parties/groupings as the base from which the changing support levels (relative to the 2011 contest) indicated by these poll figures can be used to calculate constiutency estimates of party support for each of the forty three Dáil constituencies. In the model, I estimate what the party first preference votes would be in the different constituencies, assuming similar (proportional) change in party vote shares in all constituencies. For instance, Labour’s share of the vote is currently estimated to be roughly seven-ninths of what its vote share in the 2011 election was, while Sinn Féin’s poll figure has its current support level as amounting to almost twice the level of support which it won in the same election. This of course is a very rough model, and ignores the fact that changing support levels between elections tend to vary geographically (with the most dramatic vote swings usually occurring in the Dublin region) and it also cannot take account of the impact of the boundary changes and the reduction in Dáil seat numbers to be brought in by the upcoming 2012 Constituency Commission report. Differential turnout levels are also a factor that has a bearing on how poll figures may translate into actual election results, particularly if those claiming to support a certain party show a greater/lesser propensity to turn out to vote on Election Day than those claiming to support other parties.

The constituency support estimates based on the application of this model to the opinion poll figures are as follows:

  FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 29% 33% 13% 18% 7%
Cavan-Monaghan 18% 29% 4% 42% 8%
Clare 23% 36% 12% 7% 22%
Cork East 18% 31% 25% 21% 5%
Cork North Central 15% 21% 20% 27% 17%
Cork North West 27% 42% 11% 14% 5%
Cork South Central 29% 29% 15% 15% 11%
Cork South West 25% 42% 12% 14% 7%
Donegal North East 16% 23% 7% 40% 14%
Donegal South West 19% 13% 3% 49% 16%
Dublin Central 15% 16% 21% 24% 24%
Dublin Mid West 12% 26% 24% 22% 16%
Dublin North 17% 27% 21% 5% 30%
Dublin North Central 14% 33% 18% 11% 24%
Dublin North East 12% 25% 27% 23% 14%
Dublin North West 11% 13% 31% 38% 7%
Dublin South 10% 32% 15% 5% 38%
Dublin South Central 10% 19% 27% 25% 19%
Dublin South East 12% 32% 21% 7% 27%
Dublin South West 11% 23% 27% 31% 8%
Dublin West 18% 24% 23% 12% 23%
Dun Laoghaire 17% 31% 25% 4% 22%
Galway East 19% 37% 11% 12% 22%
Galway West 22% 26% 10% 12% 31%
Kerry North-West Limerick 11% 32% 15% 35% 7%
Kerry South 14% 27% 8% 7% 45%
Kildare North 16% 29% 24% 11% 19%
Kildare South 24% 29% 23% 12% 12%
Laois-Offaly 27% 27% 6% 19% 21%
Limerick City 23% 37% 16% 17% 7%
Limerick    24% 44% 15% 2% 15%
Longford-Westmeath 21% 33% 22% 15% 9%
Louth 15% 24% 13% 37% 11%
Mayo 18% 57% 4% 13% 8%
Meath East 21% 35% 17% 17% 10%
Meath West 18% 36% 10% 31% 5%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 15% 31% 7% 18% 28%
Sligo-North Leitrim 22% 29% 8% 24% 18%
Tipperary North 17% 20% 15% 12% 36%
Tipperary South 14% 29% 9% 9% 40%
Waterford 15% 32% 15% 19% 20%
Wexford 20% 30% 16% 11% 23%
Wicklow 11% 33% 13% 19% 24%
STATE 18.0% 30.0% 15.0% 19.0% 18.0%

Based on these constituency estimates, and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, while amending this to account for vote transfer patterns as well as constituencies where the 2011 party/independent vote was shaped in part by a relatively large number of candidates contesting the election (such as the large number of independent candidates contesting the Laois-Offaly 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 2 2   1  
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2  
Clare 1 2     1
Cork East 1 1 1 1  
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1  
Cork North West 1 2      
Cork South Central 2 1 1 1  
Cork South West 1 2      
Donegal North East   1   2  
Donegal South West 1     2  
Dublin Central   1 1 1 1
Dublin Mid West   2 1 1  
Dublin North 1 1 1   1
Dublin North Central   1 1   1
Dublin North East   1 1 1  
Dublin North West     1 2  
Dublin South   2 1   2
Dublin South Central   1 2 1 1
Dublin South East   2 1   1
Dublin South West   1 1 2  
Dublin West 1 1 1   1
Dun Laoghaire   2 1   1
Galway East 1 2     1
Galway West 1 2     2
Kerry North-West Limerick   1   2  
Kerry South   1     2
Kildare North 1 1 1   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 1 1 2  
Mayo 1 4      
Meath East 1 2      
Meath West 1 1   1  
Roscommon-South Leitrim   1   1 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 1   1  
Tipperary North 1 1     1
Tipperary South   1     2
Waterford   2   1 1
Wexford 1 2 1   1
Wicklow   2 1 1 1
STATE 29 63 22 29 23

This poll brings good news for Fianna Fáil and suggests that this party is now predicted to regain some of the seat lost by the party in 2011, arising more so from the loss of support by the government parties (which means these are losing seats they gained in that election) rather than any significant increase in support by Fianna Fáil. On these figures the party could expect to increase its Dail seat numbers by over 50%, while also, given that party’s catch-all geography of support, be in a position where a further increase in the party’s national support levels of a few percentage points could bring about even more dramatic seat gains. If Fianna Fail national support hits a level in the low to mid 20s, the party would be in a position where it would expect to win seats in most three or four seat constituencies, while also being in a position to challenge for two seats in a number of that party’s stronger four and five seat constituencies. This poll predicts that the party, currently without a seat in the Dublin region, would win two seats in Dublin based on these figures – regaining the Dublin West seat won by the late Brian Lenihan in February 2011 and also winning a seat in Dublin North – while also likely to be in contention to win seats in Dublin Central, Dublin North Central, Dublin South, Dublin South Central and Dublin South East with a further support increase of a few percentage points. The party would also be allocated a seat in Dun Laoghaire based on this model but for the fact that the appointment of Sean Barrett as Ceann Comhairle effectively makes this a three-seat constituency – in any case, the party would now be likely to be challenging People Before Profit or Labour for one of the last two seats in this constituency with a further increase in Fianna Fail support nationally.

The trend of higher Sinn Féin support levels, especially relative to the 2011 General Election and indeed the party’s poll ratings in polls in Autumn 2010, is once again evidenced in these poll figures. Sinn Féin’s ongoing rise in the opinion polls can be traced as far back to the aftermath of the Pearse Doherty win in the Donegal-South West by-election of November 2010, with the general trend in the party’s support levels in polls held since then being a general upwards one. In some ways an increase in Sinn Fein support levels is to be expected, given the economic climate in which the government parties are operating in, given that the party is currently leading up the No campaign in the European Treaty referendum campaign, and given that the level of toxicity still associated with Fianna Fail over a year after that party left power is currently placing a lid on the level of support Fianna Fáil can hope to rise to in national opinion polls at present. In addition to the 24 seats predicted based on The Irish Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne poll results for Sinn Féin, there would be a number of other constituencies where further Sinn Féin gains would be possible on the basis of a further small swing to the party, including Cork South-Central, Galway West, Longford-Westmeath, Limerick City and Roscommon-South Leitrim while on the basis of these estimations they would be in line to win two seats in some constituencies in the Border region and in Dublin. There is a limit to the extent of further gains suggested on the basis of the party’s weak support base amongst the urban middle class constituencies, with the party not estimated to be in contention in constituencies such as Dublin South and Dublin South-East with this model even on the basis of a national poll figure of 19% for the party. Until Sinn Fein can attain some degree of a foothold within middle class areas they are unlikely to be in a position to win the same level of seats that have been won by Flanna Fáil or Fine Gael in general election contests. That said, should the party support levels increase further over the coming years and Fianna Fáil support levels rebound over the next three years back up into the low to mid 20s then the prospect of a Sinn Fein-lead coalition government (with Pearse Doherty or Mary-Lou McDonald as Taoiseach) involving Fianna Fail as junior coalition partners could become a live prospect.

Support for independents and smaller parties remains at a high level, but given the broad church encompassed within this grouping, it is hard to fully decipher the implications of this increase in support. Seat levels would appear likely to be split almost evenly between left-leaning and right-leaning candidates/parties and there would be no question of this entire grouping for a cohesive bloc for the purposes of government-formation discussions. Depending on the Dail arithmetic, it could well prove likely that some members of this group are in a position where they are supporting a minority government following the next general election however.

Should the seat estimates based on The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll figures pan out after the next general election, then the government parties would attain enough seats to form a majority government in Dail Eirean with seat numbers for a Fine Gael-Labour coalition estimated at 85 seats and with seat numbers for an alternative Sinn Féin-Fianna Fáil coalition alliance estimated at 58 seats. This would leave a new government involving Fine Gael and Labour with a reduced Dáil majority of just 4 seats. Given the fact that a Fine Gael-Sinn Féin coalition would be highly improbable, the only other likely two-party coalition option, with a sufficient number of seats to command a majority in Dáil Éireann, would involve Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, with these parties combined seat levels based on these figures estimated at 95 seats, giving a potential coalition involving these parties a majority of 24 seats in the Dail. A three-party government might also be an option – an alliance involving Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Labour would not have enough seats (80) to command a majority in Dáil Éireann (although it could attain a majority with some support from the independent/others ranks) while an alliance involving all the parties leading the Yes campaign on the European Treaty referendum, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, would command a combined total of 114 seats, ensuring such an alliance a 62-seat majority. The latter option would seem pointless given that potential coalition combinations involving a Fine Gael and Labour alliance or a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael alliance would both have a more than sufficient number of seats to govern as a two party-coalitions however.

Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll (30 May)

Fianna Fáil 17%, Fine Gael 36%, Labour 12%, Sinn Féin 20%, Green Party 1%, United Left Alliance 1%, Independents and Others 13%

The constituency support estimates based on the application of this model to the opinion poll figures are as follows:

  FF FG LB SF GP OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 27% 39% 10% 19% 2% 4%
Cavan-Monaghan 16% 33% 3% 42% 0% 6%
Clare 22% 43% 9% 7% 1% 18%
Cork East 17% 37% 20% 22% 1% 3%
Cork North Central 14% 26% 16% 29% 1% 14%
Cork North West 24% 49% 9% 15% 1% 3%
Cork South Central 28% 35% 12% 16% 1% 7%
Cork South West 23% 49% 9% 14% 1% 4%
Donegal North East 15% 27% 6% 41% 0% 12%
Donegal South West 17% 16% 2% 51% 1% 13%
Dublin Central 15% 20% 18% 26% 1% 20%
Dublin Mid West 12% 32% 20% 24% 2% 11%
Dublin North 17% 35% 18% 6% 5% 19%
Dublin North Central 13% 40% 15% 11% 1% 20%
Dublin North East 12% 31% 22% 24% 1% 10%
Dublin North West 11% 16% 26% 41% 1% 5%
Dublin South 10% 40% 12% 6% 4% 27%
Dublin South Central 10% 24% 23% 27% 1% 15%
Dublin South East 12% 40% 18% 8% 4% 18%
Dublin South West 10% 27% 22% 33% 1% 6%
Dublin West 18% 29% 19% 13% 1% 20%
Dun Laoghaire 17% 39% 21% 5% 2% 17%
Galway East 18% 43% 8% 12% 0% 18%
Galway West 21% 31% 8% 13% 1% 26%
Kerry North-West Limerick 10% 37% 11% 36% 0% 6%
Kerry South 13% 33% 7% 7% 0% 39%
Kildare North 15% 36% 20% 12% 1% 16%
Kildare South 23% 36% 18% 13% 1% 10%
Laois-Offaly 25% 32% 5% 20% 0% 18%
Limerick City 21% 44% 13% 17% 1% 5%
Limerick    22% 52% 12% 2% 0% 12%
Longford-Westmeath 20% 40% 17% 15% 0% 7%
Louth 14% 28% 11% 39% 2% 6%
Mayo 15% 63% 3% 12% 0% 6%
Meath East 19% 41% 13% 18% 1% 8%
Meath West 16% 42% 8% 31% 1% 3%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 14% 37% 6% 19% 0% 24%
Sligo-North Leitrim 20% 35% 6% 24% 0% 15%
Tipperary North 17% 25% 13% 13% 0% 32%
Tipperary South 13% 36% 7% 9% 0% 34%
Waterford 14% 38% 12% 19% 0% 17%
Wexford 19% 36% 13% 12% 0% 20%
Wicklow 10% 39% 11% 20% 1% 19%
STATE 17.0% 36.0% 12.0% 20.0% 1.0% 14.0%

Based on these constituency estimates, and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, while amending this to account for vote transfer patterns as well as constituencies where the 2011 party/independent vote was shaped in part by a relatively large number of candidates contesting the election (such as the large number of independent candidates contesting the Laois-Offaly 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 2 2   1    
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2    
Clare 1 2       1
Cork East   2 1 1    
Cork North Central   1 1 2   1
Cork North West 1 2        
Cork South Central 2 2   1    
Cork South West 1 2        
Donegal North East   1   2    
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   1 1 1    
Dublin North West     1 2    
Dublin South   3 1     1
Dublin South Central   1 1 2   1
Dublin South East 1 2 1      
Dublin South West   1 1 2    
Dublin West 1 1 1     1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1      
Galway East 1 2       1
Galway West 1 2   1   1
Kerry North-West Limerick   2   1    
Kerry South   1       2
Kildare North   2 1     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   2    
Mayo 1 4        
Meath East 1 2        
Meath West   2   1    
Roscommon-South Leitrim   1   1   1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 1   1    
Tipperary North 1 1       1
Tipperary South   2       1
Waterford   2   1   1
Wexford 1 2 1     1
Wicklow   3   1   1
STATE 26 74 17 31 0 19

Irish Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne poll (18 May)

Fianna Fáil 17%, Fine Gael 34%, Labour 15%, Sinn Féin 17%, Independents and Others 18%

The Millward Brown-Lansdowne poll analysis, while noting a loss of support and predicting a related loss of seats for the two parties, offered a somewhat more positive picture for the government parties and the constituency level analysis of this suggests they would win enough seats to command a reduced yet still comfortable majority in Dail Eireann.

The proportion of seats that might be won by parties/groupings, if these poll figures were to be replicated in an actual general election, will not measure up exactly to their actual share of the first preference vote, mainly because these first preference votes need to be filtered through a system of different Dáil constituencies of varying seat sizes, resulting in a significant degree of disproportionlity within the Irish system. In order to account for this, this model takes 2011 General Election support figures for different political parties/groupings as the base from which the changing support levels (relative to the 2011 contest) indicated by these poll figures can be used to calculate constiutency estimates of party support for each of the forty three Dáil constituencies. In the model, I estimate what the party first preference votes would be in the different constituencies, assuming similar (proportional) change in party vote shares in all constituencies. For instance, Labour’s share of the vote is currently estimated to be roughly seven-ninths of what its vote share in the 2011 election was, while Sinn Féin’s poll figure has its current support level as amounting to roughly one and two-thirds that which it won in the same election. This of course is a very rough model, and ignores the fact that changing support levels between elections tend to vary geographically (with the most dramatic vote swings usually occurring in the Dublin region) and it also cannot take account of the impact of the boundary changes and the reduction in Dáil seat numbers to be brought in by the upcoming 2011 Constituency Commission report. Differential turnout levels are also a factor that has a bearing on how poll figures may translate into actual election results, particularly if those claiming to support a certain party show a greater/lesser propensity to turn out to vote on Election Day than those claiming to support other parties.

The constituency support estimates based on the application of this model to the opinion poll figures are as follows:

  FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 27% 37% 13% 16% 7%
Cavan-Monaghan 17% 33% 4% 38% 8%
Clare 21% 40% 11% 6% 22%
Cork East 17% 35% 24% 19% 5%
Cork North Central 14% 24% 20% 24% 17%
Cork North West 25% 47% 11% 13% 5%
Cork South Central 28% 33% 14% 14% 11%
Cork South West 23% 46% 11% 12% 7%
Donegal North East 15% 27% 7% 36% 15%
Donegal South West 18% 16% 3% 46% 17%
Dublin Central 14% 18% 21% 21% 25%
Dublin Mid West 12% 29% 24% 20% 16%
Dublin North 15% 30% 21% 5% 29%
Dublin North Central 13% 37% 18% 9% 23%
Dublin North East 11% 28% 27% 20% 14%
Dublin North West 11% 15% 32% 35% 7%
Dublin South 9% 35% 14% 5% 37%
Dublin South Central 9% 22% 27% 22% 19%
Dublin South East 11% 35% 20% 6% 27%
Dublin South West 10% 26% 28% 28% 8%
Dublin West 17% 27% 23% 11% 23%
Dun Laoghaire 16% 34% 25% 4% 22%
Galway East 18% 41% 10% 10% 21%
Galway West 20% 29% 9% 10% 31%
Kerry North-West Limerick 10% 36% 15% 32% 7%
Kerry South 13% 30% 8% 6% 44%
Kildare North 15% 33% 24% 10% 19%
Kildare South 22% 33% 22% 10% 12%
Laois-Offaly 25% 31% 6% 17% 21%
Limerick City 21% 41% 16% 15% 7%
Limerick    21% 48% 14% 2% 14%
Longford-Westmeath 20% 37% 21% 13% 9%
Louth 14% 27% 14% 33% 12%
Mayo 16% 62% 4% 11% 8%
Meath East 19% 39% 16% 15% 10%
Meath West 17% 41% 10% 27% 5%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 14% 35% 7% 16% 28%
Sligo-North Leitrim 20% 33% 8% 21% 18%
Tipperary North 16% 22% 15% 10% 36%
Tipperary South 13% 33% 8% 7% 39%
Waterford 14% 36% 15% 16% 20%
Wexford 19% 33% 16% 10% 22%
Wicklow 10% 37% 13% 16% 24%
STATE 17.0% 34.0% 15.0% 17.0% 18.0%

Based on these constituency estimates, and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, while amending this to account for vote transfer patterns as well as constituencies where the 2011 party/independent vote was shaped in part by a relatively large number of candidates contesting the election (such as the large number of independent candidates contesting the Laois-Offaly 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 2 2   1  
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2  
Clare 1 2     1
Cork East   2 1 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   2  
Donegal South West 1     2  
Dublin Central   1 1 1 1
Dublin Mid West   2 1 1  
Dublin North 1 1 1   1
Dublin North Central   1 1   1
Dublin North East   1 1 1  
Dublin North West     1 2  
Dublin South   2 1   2
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   2 1   1
Galway East 1 2     1
Galway West 1 2     2
Kerry North-West Limerick   2   1  
Kerry South   1     2
Kildare North   2 1   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 1 1 2  
Mayo 1 4      
Meath East 1 2      
Meath West   2   1  
Roscommon-South Leitrim   2     1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 1   1  
Tipperary North 1 1     1
Tipperary South   1     2
Waterford   2   1 1
Wexford 1 2 1   1
Wicklow   2 1 1 1
STATE 26 69 24 24 23

This poll brings good news for Fianna Fáil and suggests that this party is now predicted to regain some of the seat lost by the party in 2011, arising more so from the loss of support by the government parties (which means these are losing seats they gained in that election) rather than any significant increase in support by Fianna Fáil. On these figures the party could expect to increase its Dail seat numbers by over 30%, while also, given that party’s catch-all geography of support, being in a position where an increase in the party’s national support levels of a few percentage points could bring about even more dramatic seat gains. If Fianna Fail national support hits a level in the low to mid 20s, the party would be in a position where it would expect to win seats in most three or four seat constituencies, while also being in a position to challenge for two seats in a number of that party’s stronger four and five seat constituencies. This poll predicts that the party, currently without a seat in the Dublin region, would win two seats in Dublin based on these figures – regaining the Dublin West seat won by the late Brian Lenihan in February 2011 and also winning a seat in Dublin North – while also likely to be in contention to win seats in Dublin Central, Dublin North Central, Dublin South, Dublin South Central and Dublin South East with a further support increase of a few percentage points. The party would also be allocated a seat in Dun Laoghaire based on this model but for the fact that the appointment of Sean Barrett as Ceann Comhairle effectively makes this a three-seat constituency – in any case, the party would now be likely to be challenging People Before Profit or Labour for one of the last two seats in this constituency with a further increase in Fianna Fail support nationally.  

The trend of higher Sinn Féin support levels, especially relative to the 2011 General Election and indeed the party’s poll ratings in polls in Autumn 2010, is once again evidenced in these poll figures. Sinn Féin’s ongoing rise in the opinion polls can be traced as far back to the aftermath of the Pearse Doherty win in the Donegal-South West by-election of November 2010, with the general trend in the party’s support levels in polls held since then being a general upwards one. In some ways an increase in Sinn Fein support levels is to be expected, given the economic climate in which the government parties are operating in, given that the party is currently leading up the No campaign in the European Treaty referendum campaign, and given that the level of toxicity still associated with Fianna Fail over a year after that party left power is currently placing a lid on the level of support Fianna Fáil can hope to rise to in national opinion polls at present. In addition to the 24 seats predicted based on The Irish Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne poll results for Sinn Féin, there would be a number of other constituencies where further Sinn Féin gains would be possible on the basis of a further small swing to the party, including Cork South-Central, Galway West, Longford-Westmeath, Limerick City and Roscommon-South Leitrim while on the basis of these estimations they would be in line to win two seats in some constituencies in the Border region. There is a limit to the extent of further gains suggested on the basis of the party’s weak support base amongst the urban middle class constituencies, with the party not estimated to be in contention in constituencies such as Dublin South and Dublin South-East with this model even on the basis of a national poll figure of 17% for the party. Until Sinn Fein can attain some degree of a foothold within middle class areas they are unlikely to be in a position to win the same level of seats that have been won by Flanna Fáil or Fine Gael in general election contests. That said, should the party support levels increase further over the coming years and Fianna Fáil support levels rebound over the next three years back up into the low to mid 20s then the prospect of a Sinn Fein-lead coalition government (with Pearse Doherty or Mary-Lou McDonald as Taoiseach) involving Fianna Fail as junior coalition partners could become a live prospect.

Support for independents and smaller parties remains at a high level, but given the broad church encompassed within this grouping, it is hard to fully decipher the implications of this increase in support. Seat levels would appear likely to be split almost evenly between left-leaning and right-leaning candidates/parties and there would be no question of this entire grouping for a cohesive bloc for the purposes of government-formation discussions. Depending on the Dail arithmetic, it could well prove likely that some members of this group are in a position where they are supporting a minority government following the next general election however.

Should the seat estimates based on The Irish Independent-Millward Borwn Lansdowne poll figures pan out after the next general election, then the government parties would attain enough seats to form a majority government in Dail Eirean with seat numbers for a Fine Gael-Labour coalition estimated at 93 seats and with seat numbers for an alternative Sinn Féin-Fianna Fáil coalition alliance estimated at 50 seats. This would leave a new government involving Fine Gael and Labour with a reduced, yet relatively comfortable Dáil majority of 20 seats. Given the fact that a Fine Gael-Sinn Féin coalition would be highly improbable, the only other likely two-party coalition option, with a sufficient number of seats to command a majority in Dáil Éireann, would involve Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, with these parties combined seat levels based on these figures estimated at 95 seats, giving a potential coalition involving these parties a majority of 24 seats in the Dail. A three-party government might also be an option – an alliance involving Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Labour would not have enough seats (74) to command a majority in Dáil Éireann while an alliance involving all the parties leading the Yes campaign on the European Treaty referendum, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, would command a combined total of 119 seats, ensuring such an alliance a 72-seat majority. The latter option would seem pointless given that potential coalition combinations involving a Fine Gael and Labour alliance or a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael alliance would both have a more than sufficient number of seats to govern as a two party-coalitions however.

Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (13 May)

The Sunday Business Post-Red C (13th May) poll sees combined support for the two government parties at its lowest levels in any of the Ipsos MRBI or Red C polls held since the parties took power in March 2011, or indeed since the collpase of the economy and the bank guarantee scheme in September 2008. This is also the first poll analysis, based on eitherr Red C or Ipsos MRBI poll figures, since September 2008 to predict that a coalition involving these two parties would not must a sufficient number of seats to attain a majority in Dail Eireann. On the other hand, Fianna Fail achieves one of its highest support levels in a national poll since the IMF/EU/ECB bailout in the autumn of 2010   The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings as follows: Fine Gael 29% (down 3%), Labour 13% (down 1%), Fianna Fail 19% (up 2%), Sinn Fein 18% (up 2%), Green Party, Independents and Others 18% (NC). On the basis of this constituency level analysis – based on assigning seats on the basis of constituency support estimates (simply using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats), while also taking account of the factors of vote transfers and vote splitting/management (based on vote transfer/management patterns oberved in the February 2011 election) – party seat levels would be estimated as follows: Fine Gael 60, Labour 20, Fianna Fail 29, Sinn Fein 34, Green Party, Independents and Others 23.

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

  FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 30% 31% 11% 20% 7%
Cavan-Monaghan 18% 26% 3% 45% 8%
Clare 27% 38% 11% 0% 24%
Cork East 19% 30% 21% 24% 5%
Cork North Central 16% 20% 17% 31% 17%
Cork North West 28% 41% 10% 16% 5%
Cork South Central 31% 28% 12% 17% 11%
Cork South West 27% 40% 10% 16% 7%
Donegal North East 16% 21% 6% 43% 14%
Donegal South West 18% 12% 3% 52% 15%
Dublin Central 16% 15% 18% 27% 24%
Dublin Mid West 13% 25% 21% 25% 16%
Dublin North 19% 29% 20% 0% 32%
Dublin North Central 15% 32% 16% 12% 24%
Dublin North East 13% 24% 23% 26% 14%
Dublin North West 12% 12% 27% 42% 6%
Dublin South 11% 32% 13% 6% 38%
Dublin South Central 10% 19% 24% 28% 19%
Dublin South East 13% 31% 19% 8% 28%
Dublin South West 11% 22% 24% 35% 8%
Dublin West 19% 23% 21% 14% 24%
Dun Laoghaire 19% 32% 24% 0% 24%
Galway East 20% 36% 9% 13% 22%
Galway West 23% 25% 8% 13% 31%
Kerry North-West Limerick 11% 30% 12% 39% 7%
Kerry South 16% 28% 8% 0% 48%
Kildare North 17% 29% 21% 13% 20%
Kildare South 25% 29% 20% 14% 13%
Laois-Offaly 27% 25% 5% 22% 21%
Limerick City 24% 36% 14% 19% 7%
Limerick    26% 45% 13% 0% 16%
Longford-Westmeath 22% 32% 19% 17% 9%
Louth 15% 22% 11% 40% 11%
Mayo 18% 55% 3% 14% 8%
Meath East 22% 34% 14% 19% 10%
Meath West 18% 34% 8% 34% 5%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 16% 30% 6% 20% 28%
Sligo-North Leitrim 22% 28% 6% 26% 17%
Tipperary North 18% 19% 13% 13% 36%
Tipperary South 15% 28% 7% 10% 40%
Waterford 15% 31% 13% 21% 20%
Wexford 21% 29% 14% 13% 23%
Wicklow 12% 32% 11% 21% 24%
STATE 19.0% 29.0% 13.0% 21.0% 18.0%

Based on these constituency estimates, and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, the party seat levels are estimated as follows:

  FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2   1  
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2  
Clare 1 2     1
Cork East 1 1 1 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   2  
Donegal South West 1     2  
Dublin Central 1   1 1 1
Dublin Mid West   1 1 1 1
Dublin North 1 1 1   1
Dublin North Central   2     1
Dublin North East   1 1 1  
Dublin North West     1 2  
Dublin South   2 1   2
Dublin South Central   1 1 2 1
Dublin South East   2 1   1
Dublin South West   1 1 2  
Dublin West 1 1 1   1
Dun Laoghaire   2 1   1
Galway East 1 2     1
Galway West 1 1   1 2
Kerry North-West Limerick   1   2  
Kerry South   1     2
Kildare North 1 1 1   1
Kildare South 1 1 1    
Laois-Offaly 2 1   1 1
Limerick City 1 2   1  
Limerick    1 2      
Longford-Westmeath 1 1 1 1  
Louth 1 1   3  
Mayo 1 3   1  
Meath East 1 1   1  
Meath West 1 1   1  
Roscommon-South Leitrim   1   1 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 1     1
Tipperary North 1 1     1
Tipperary South   1     2
Waterford   2   1 1
Wexford 1 2 1   1
Wicklow 1 2   1 1
STATE 30 58 17 34 27

Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or 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 OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2   1  
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2  
Clare 1 2     1
Cork East 1 1 1 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   2  
Donegal South West 1     2  
Dublin Central   1 1 1 1
Dublin Mid West   2 1 1  
Dublin North 1 1 1   1
Dublin North Central   1 1   1
Dublin North East   1 1 1  
Dublin North West     1 2  
Dublin South   2 1   2
Dublin South Central   1 1 2 1
Dublin South East   2 1   1
Dublin South West   1 1 2  
Dublin West 1 1 1   1
Dun Laoghaire   2 1   1
Galway East 1 2     1
Galway West 1 1   1 2
Kerry North-West Limerick   1   2  
Kerry South   1     2
Kildare North 1 1 1   1
Kildare South 1 1 1    
Laois-Offaly 2 2   1  
Limerick City 1 2   1  
Limerick    1 2      
Longford-Westmeath 1 1 1 1  
Louth 1 1 1 2  
Mayo 1 3   1  
Meath East 1 1   1  
Meath West 1 1   1  
Roscommon-South Leitrim   1   1 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 1   1  
Tipperary North 1 1     1
Tipperary South   1     2
Waterford   2   1
Wexford 1 2 1   1
Wicklow   2 1 1 1
STATE 29 60 20 34 23

This poll brings good news for Fianna Fail and suggests that this party is now starting to pick up some support aising from increasing government unpopularity, albeit not to the same degree as Sinn Fein. On these figures the party could expect to increase its Dail seat numbers by around 50%, while also, given that party’s more catch-all geography of support, being in a position where a further increase of a few more percentage points could bring even more dramatic seat gains. If Fianna Fail national support hits a level in the low to mid 20s, the party would be in a position where it would expect to win seats in most three or four seat constituencies, while also being in a position to challenge for two seats in that party’s stronger four and five seat constituencies. This poll predicts that the party, currently without a seat in the Dublin region, would win two seats in Dublin based on these figures – regaining the Dublin West seat won by the late Brian Lenihan in February 2011 and also winning a seat in Dublin North – while also being likely to be in contention to win Dublin Central, Dublin North Central, Dublin South Central and Dublin South East with a further support increase of a few percentage points. The party would also be allocated a seat in Dun Laoghaire based on this model but for the fact that the appointment of Sean Barrett as Ceann Comhairle effectively makes this a three-seat constituency – in any case, the party would now be likely to be challenging People Before Profit or Labour for one of the last two seats in this constituency with a further increase in Fianna Fail support nationally.  

The trend of higher Sinn Fein support levels, especially relative to the 2011 General Election and indeed the party’s poll ratings in polls in Autumn 2010, is once again evidenced in these poll figures. As noted before, Sinn Fein’s ongoing rise in the opinion polls can be traced as far back to the aftermath of the Pearse Doherty win in the Donegal-South West by-election of November 2010, with the general trend in the party’s support levels in polls held since then being a general upwards one. In some ways an increase in Sinn Fein support levels is to be expected, given the economic climate in which the government parties are operating in, given that the party is currently leading up the No campaign in the European Treaty referendum campaign, and given that the level of toxicity still associated with Fianna Fail over a year after that party left power is currently placeing a lid on the level of support that party can hope to rise to in the national polls. But the party has also been making an impact in terms of the performances in the Dail and the media by party members such as Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald. In addition to the 34 seats predicted based on The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll results for Sinn Fein, there would be a number of other constituencies where further Sinn Fein gains would be possible on the basis of a further small swing to the party, including constitiuencies such as Cork North West, Cork South West, Dublin West, Galway East, Tipperary North and Wexford, while on the basis of these estimations they would be in line to win two seats in constituencies within their stronger regions. There is a limit to the extent of further gains suggested on the basis of the party’s weak support base amongst the urban middle class consittuency, with the party not estimated to be in contention in constituencies such as Dublin South and Dublin South-East with this model even on the basis of a national poll figure of just under 20% for the party. Until Sinn Fein can attain some degree of a foothold within middle class areas they are unlikely to be in a position to win the same level of seats won by Fianna Fail or Fine Gael in those parties’ heydays. That said, should the party support levels increase further and Fianna Fail support levels rebound over the next four years back up into the low 20s then the prospect of a Sinn Fein-lead coalition government (with Pearse Doherty or Mary-Lou McDonald as Taoiseach) involving Fianna Fail as junior coalition partners could become a live prospect.

Support for independents (at 14% in the poll) and smaller parties (at 4% in the poll) remains at a high level, but given the broad church encompassed within this grouping, it is hard to fully decipher the implications of this increase in support. Seat levels would appear likely to be split almost evenly between left-leaning and right-leaning candidates/parties and there would be no question of this entire grouping for a cohesive bloc for the purposes of government-formation discussions. Depending on the Dail arithmetic, it could well prove likely that some members of this group are in a position where they are supporting a minority government following the next general election however.

Should the seat estimates based on The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll figures pan out after the next general election, the the government parties would attain enough seats to form a majority government in Dail Eirean with seat numbers for a Fine Gael-Labour coalition estimated at 80 seats and with seat numbers for an alternative Sinn Fein-Fianna Fail coalition alliance estimated at 63 seats. This would leave a new government involving Fine Gael and Labour in a similar position to which the government involving those two parties stood in 1981, holding power while being reliant on support from independents, and this is not a position (as that example proved) amenable to stable governance. Given the fact that a Fine Gael-Sinn Fein coalition would be highly improbable, the only likely two-party coalition option, with a suifficient number of seats to command a majority in Dail Eireann, would involve Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, with these parties combined seat levels based on these figures estimated at 89 seats, giving a potential coalition involving these parties a majority of 12 seats in the Dail. A three-party government might also be an option – an alliance involving Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Labour would have enough seats (83) to attain a bare majority in Dail Eireann while an alliance involving all the parties leading the Yes campaign on the European Treaty referendum, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, would command a combined total of 109 seats, ensuring such an alliance a 52-seat majority. The latter option would seem pointless given that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael would have a more than sufficient number of seats to govern as a two party-coalition however.

Paddy Power-Red C poll (17 May)

The figures in the Paddy Power-Red C (17th May) poll are not too dissimilar to the trends evident in the preceding Sunday Business Post poll, but there are slight differences. This poll estimates support levels for the different parties and groupings as follows: Fine Gael 32% (up 3% on the SBP-Red C poll figures), Labour 13% (NC), Fianna Fail 18% (down 1%), Sinn Fein 20% (up 2%), Green Party, Independents and Others 17% (down 1%).

The constituency support estimates based on the application of this model to the opinion poll figures would be as follows:

  FF FG LB SF GP OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 29% 35% 11% 19% 3% 4%
Cavan-Monaghan 17% 29% 3% 43% 1% 7%
Clare 23% 38% 10% 7% 2% 19%
Cork East 18% 34% 21% 22% 1% 3%
Cork North Central 15% 23% 17% 29% 1% 15%
Cork North West 26% 44% 10% 15% 2% 3%
Cork South Central 29% 31% 13% 16% 3% 8%
Cork South West 25% 44% 10% 15% 2% 5%
Donegal North East 15% 24% 6% 41% 1% 13%
Donegal South West 18% 14% 3% 50% 1% 14%
Dublin Central 15% 17% 19% 25% 2% 21%
Dublin Mid West 12% 28% 21% 24% 4% 11%
Dublin North 17% 30% 19% 6% 10% 19%
Dublin North Central 14% 36% 16% 11% 1% 21%
Dublin North East 12% 27% 24% 24% 2% 11%
Dublin North West 12% 14% 28% 40% 1% 5%
Dublin South 10% 35% 13% 6% 8% 28%
Dublin South Central 10% 21% 24% 26% 2% 16%
Dublin South East 13% 34% 18% 8% 8% 19%
Dublin South West 11% 24% 24% 33% 1% 7%
Dublin West 18% 26% 21% 13% 2% 21%
Dun Laoghaire 17% 34% 22% 5% 5% 17%
Galway East 19% 39% 9% 12% 1% 19%
Galway West 22% 28% 8% 12% 2% 28%
Kerry North-West Limerick 11% 33% 12% 37% 1% 6%
Kerry South 14% 29% 7% 7% 1% 42%
Kildare North 16% 32% 21% 12% 2% 17%
Kildare South 24% 32% 20% 13% 2% 10%
Laois-Offaly 26% 29% 5% 20% 0% 19%
Limerick City 23% 39% 14% 17% 1% 5%
Limerick    23% 47% 13% 2% 1% 13%
Longford-Westmeath 21% 36% 19% 16% 1% 8%
Louth 14% 25% 11% 38% 5% 6%
Mayo 17% 59% 3% 13% 0% 7%
Meath East 21% 37% 14% 18% 1% 9%
Meath West 17% 38% 8% 32% 1% 4%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 15% 34% 6% 19% 0% 26%
Sligo-North Leitrim 21% 31% 6% 25% 1% 16%
Tipperary North 18% 22% 14% 13% 1% 33%
Tipperary South 14% 32% 8% 9% 1% 37%
Waterford 15% 34% 13% 20% 1% 18%
Wexford 20% 32% 14% 12% 1% 21%
Wicklow 11% 35% 12% 20% 2% 21%
STATE 18.0% 32.0% 13.0% 20.0% 2.0% 15.0%

Based on these constituency estimates, and using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, while amending this to account for vote transfer patterns as well as constituencies where the 2011 party/independent vote was shaped in part by a relatively large number of candidates contesting the election (such as the large number of independent candidates contesting the Laois-Offaly 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 2 2   1    
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2   2    
Clare 1 2       1
Cork East 1 1 1 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   2    
Donegal South West 1     2    
Dublin Central   1 1 1   1
Dublin Mid West   2 1 1    
Dublin North 1 1 1     1
Dublin North Central   1 1     1
Dublin North East   1 1 1    
Dublin North West     1 2    
Dublin South   3 1     1
Dublin South Central   1 2 1   1
Dublin South East 1 2 1      
Dublin South West   1 1 2    
Dublin West 1 1 1     1
Dun Laoghaire   2 1     1
Galway East 1 2       1
Galway West 1 2       2
Kerry North-West Limerick   1   2    
Kerry South   1       2
Kildare North 1 1 1     1
Kildare South 1 1 1      
Laois-Offaly 2 2   1    
Limerick City 1 2   1    
Limerick    1 2        
Longford-Westmeath 1 1 1 1    
Louth 1 2   2    
Mayo 1 4        
Meath East 1 2        
Meath West 1 1   1    
Roscommon-South Leitrim   1   1   1
Sligo-North Leitrim 1 1   1    
Tipperary North 1 1       1
Tipperary South   1       2
Waterford   2   1   1
Wexford 1 2 1     1
Wicklow   2 1 1   1
STATE 30 65 20 30 0 21

The overall trend in these seat estimates is not too dissimilar to that of the Sunday Business Post poll, although the higher Fine Gael support estimate means that they would be predicted to win more seats now in this case. The Sinn Fein estimate is slightly down on the previous poll analysis (in part as Fine Gael are now retaining seats that might otherwise have fallen to that party (as in the case of Meath East, for instance) but probably mainly a result of the correction that was made to the model to account for the five constituencies Sinn Fein did not contest in 2011, as was discussed above). In this case, due to Fine Gael’s improved fortunes, the government parties combined would be able to amass a sufficent number of seats to command (a very narrow) Dail majority based on these estimates, while an alternative coalition involving Fine Gael and Fianna Fail would command a significantly larger majority in the Dail based on these figures.

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5 thoughts on “Both above and below the Waterline: Varying results for Fine Gael-Labour coalition in Sunday Business Post-Red C (26 May) and Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll figures

  1. Please remind me again. What precisely has this to do with political reform? Even if Official Ireland is hit by a ‘no’ majority in the Fiscal Compact referendum it is extremely unlikely the Government will fall. Even Michael glic concedes this. This shower is in for the duration. Certain backsides had been aching for more than 14 years to get them on to ministerial chairs. They are certainly not going to cast them aside on a whim. For quite a few, particularly on the Labour side, this is the last hurrah. They might not even contest the next general election. It’s time to max the ministerial pension entitlement.

    And even if the Government were to implode and a general election were forced there would be plenty of time then for these darned opinion polls. This is just more evidence of the media creating relatively inexpensive and copy-producing distraction from more fundamental problems and challenges – and from their failure to devote the necessary investigative and editorial resources to address them. Those in the academic community who give further currency to this distraction are even more culpable.

    It is highly likely though that, as the domestic economy continues to sink in to the mire in the absence of meaningful economic structural reforms and meaningful reforms of governance, pressure will increase on the Coalition – and, in particular, on Labour. It would make sense for the 32 or so Labour TDs outside of the cabinet, a majority of whom will lose their seats at the next election if the Government sticks to its current policies, to re-think their obstructive approach to structural and political reform. FG significantly modified its pre-election policy stance in these areas by making an assessment of what Labour might swallow – on the basis that it would need to mollify Labour to secure a coalition agreement.

    Meaningful economic structural reforms are required to counter-act the inevitable deflationary impact of the necessary fiscal adjustment. The Government, under intense pressure from the various sectional economic interests affected, has whittled down the Troika’s original programme to almost nothingness. It is up to these Labour TDs to dis-inter these proposals. Nothing has been set in stone. FG is likely to be receptive – as it has been forced to suppress its more reformist tendencies. It would provoke a severe reaction from the sectional economic interests Labour would consider to be part of its constuency, but the many of these voters have already migrated, possibly temporarily, to the lard heft and SF.

    But if ’twere done, ’twere better ’twere done quickly. The furore would die down rapidly. The terms and conditions of the workers in the sectors affected are well protected and would be under little threat. But the economic benefits, which would be significant and broadly spread among citizens, would start to flow and would build up well in advance of the next election.

    These Labour TDs have a simple choice: take a stand in the public interest – and in their own interests in being re-elected – or face a wipe-out at the next election. This is what always happens to Labour after participation in a coalition. The pattern is Labour opposing reforms that are in the public interest. It was fiscal adjustment from ’82-’87; it is economic structural reforms now. But, perhaps, they are incapable of learning.

    It would be reasuring to find out that they are not that stupid.

  2. Apologies. I notice that I typed ‘lard heft’ instead of ‘hard left’. However, the more I reflect on it the more appropriate it appears – lumpen, unpersuadable, deluded and with sufficient mass to cause inertia.

  3. I prefer the former description, the Freudian slip one. BTW Labour are hard core. When you hope for Labour reform think of Jack O’Connor and David Begg it is not going to happen. Howlin’s man who is heading up Public Sector reform is serving a years probation good would luck with that!

  4. There won’t be an election until late 2015/2016 and when you think how different things were in 2007 – no one predicted what would happen at the 2011 election. So no one has the faintest idea what things will be like by 2015/16 either. It could be better or worse than we ever thought.

    As we know from actual experience people will say they vote SF but when it comes to actually doing so they think again.

    Fine Gael and whatever Fianna Fáil morphs into will be in a coalition together before SF will be in any type of coalition in the Republic and especially as long as its mouth pieces all have northern accents – such accents do not carry well in the south.

    But until Adrian follows basic statistical methods and places the party with the largest mass first (ie Fine Gael) it’s hard to take this assessment seriously.

  5. Things must be very quiet on the politcial reform front. I wonder will be break the average of three posts a month here. John O’Brennan has an inrteresting peice in the IT today:
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0521/1224316455662.html

    It’s simply amazing how apparently intelligent people can so easily grasp the wrong end of the stick.

    The Fiscal Compact, contray to Dr. O’Brennan’s contentions, was advanced on an inter-governmental basis for a number or good reasons. First, there was an urgency to re-inforce fiscal and economic governance in the EU. Secondly, a weak Commission – weakened by a less than forceful president from one of the PIIGS in a support programme and by an excessive number of members (one of the concessions to entice ireland to vote yes in Lisbon II) – was unable to muster the capability. And thirdly, David Cameron’s antics – aided and abetted by the Czechs – prevented the Union’s institutions being used formally.

    Rather than being driven by a desire by the EU’s Grand Panjandrums to avoid securing democratic legitimacy, this exercise has been driven by a requirement to respond to a re-emergence of the need to secure informed democratic consent, particularly, in the creditor countries. Voters there, in particular in Germany, were misled by their governing politicians (and their predecessors) who assured them that proper arrangements were in place for the Euro project – and that countries about whom they had justifiable doubts had given their solemn signatures to comply. It is clear now that all these assurances were false and they, quite understandably, are angry. They have to be persuaded and their informed democratic consent secured before the necessary staps to resolve this crisis may be made.

    It would have been better if the governing politicians had focused intiially on unwinding this Faustian pact between sovereigns and banks, but reinforcing fiscal and economic governance is also required to re-balance political and economic power between sovereign governments and bond market participants. Politicians, being politicians, chose intially what they perceived as the easier task – but bank resolution will follow.

    What is happening in Ireland has little to do with democracy and nothing to do with securing informed democratic consent. It is a contest between those who exercise and enjoy politcal and economic power and who wish to protect their bubble-era gains and those who have some political and economic power, but desparately want more – and who also wish to protect their bubble-era gains. A large majority of citizens, including those suffering economic hardship, are innocent confused by-standers – and will continue to suffer collateral damage irrespective of which side wins. It would be wonderful if both sides could lose – and for the majority of citizens to win. But that’s not on offer.

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