So what for Silly Season politics? Looking at the August opinion polls

The month of August saw the latest poll from the Red C series of opinion polls as well as two new Sunday Independent-Millward Brown polls, with these continuing the trends observed in polls during 2013, in which Fianna Fail and Fine Gael support hovers around the mid 20s mark (with Fianna Fail faring decidedly better in the Millward Brown polls), Sinn Fein support hovers around the mid-to-high teens (and occasionally into the low twenties) and Labour support hovers just above or just below the ten percent mark (with Labour support tending to be higher in the Red C polls). The Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll (1st September 2013) puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings at (and relative to the  previous Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll), as follows: Fine Gael 27% (down 2%), Fianna Fail 25% (down 3%), Sinn Fein 21% (up 3%), Labour 8% (NC), Green Party, Independents and Others 18% (up 2%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 45, Fine Gael 56, Sinn Fein 34, Labour 3, Green Party, Independents and Others 20.

The Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll (18th August 2013) puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings at (and relative to the  previous Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll), as follows: Fine Gael 29% (up 3%), Fianna Fail 28% (down 1%), Sinn Fein 18% (NC), Labour 8% (NC), Green Party, Independents and Others 16% (down 2%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 53, Fine Gael 58, Sinn Fein 24, Labour 4, Green Party, Independents and Others 18.The Paddy Power-Red C poll (8th August 2013) puts national support levels for the main political parties and groupings at (and relative to the  previous Sunday Business-Red C poll), as follows: Fine Gael 29% (up 1%), Fianna Fail 22% (NC), Sinn Fein 15% (down 2%), Labour 11% (down 1%), Green Party, Independents and Others 23% (up 2%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fine Gael 56, Fianna Fail 38, Sinn Fein 20, Labour 13, Green Party, Independents and Others 31. The exceptionally high level of Don’t Knows in the polls does need to be noted and suggests that, with possibly still over two and a half years left to the next general election, that there is still a lot to be played for in this political game.

The analyses used here are similar to previous posts which have applied a constituency level analysis (although with these using the constituency units used for the 2011 General Election) based on assigning seats on the basis of constituency support estimates and 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 observed in the February 2011 election). Based on such an analysis and using the new constituency units (as defined in the 2012 Constituency Commission report) – the new constituencies which will be used for the next general election (assuming an election is not called in the following months before the Electoral Act putting the new constituency configuration into effect) – these analyses estimates what party seat levels would be, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election. These analysis suggests that Fianna Fail would seem to be the party most likely to be positively effected by the redrawing of the constituency boundaries and suggests that the party, in this context, would be gaining as a result of the boundary changes, in addition to the party’s improvement in its opinion poll levels relative to its 2011 General Election figures, irrespective of the impact of a reduction in Dail seat numbers from 166 to 158. Due to unusually high/low support levels for some parties or political groupings in the previous election, the model may throw up occasional constituency predictions that are unlikely to pan out in a “real election”, but the estimates here cannot be seen as highly accurate estimates of support levels at the constituency level as in a “real election” party support changes will vary significantly across constituency given uneven geographical shifts in support levels. But the ultimate aim of the models are to get an overall, national-level, estimate of seat numbers and these are based on the proviso that an over-prediction in one constituency may be offset by an under-prediction in another constituency. I have made some further corrections to the base support figures for the different parties for this analysis to take better account of the impacts on support of the 2012 Constituency Commission report boundary changes with especial reference to the Dublin constituencies. For instance, these figures better reflect the weaker positions of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in Dublin Central after the moving out of the Ashtown area to Dublin West and the Botanic/Drumcondra area to Dublin North West, but also their stronger positions in Dublin West and Dublin North West. Fine Gael are assigned an extra seat in Dun Laoghaire on the basis that the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, will be automatically returned at the next general election and this constituency will effectively be rendered a three-seat contest at the next general election.

The constituency support estimates based on the Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll figures (1st September 2013), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

  FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 39% 28% 6% 19% 7%
Cavan-Monaghan 22% 24% 2% 45% 7%
Clare 32% 32% 6% 7% 22%
Cork East 26% 30% 14% 25% 5%
Cork North Central 22% 20% 10% 30% 18%
Cork North West 36% 37% 6% 16% 5%
Cork South Central 40% 25% 8% 17% 11%
Cork South West 35% 37% 6% 15% 7%
Donegal  22% 15% 2% 46% 15%
Dublin Central 17% 11% 12% 32% 28%
Dublin Mid West 18% 25% 14% 26% 17%
Dublin Fingal 25% 27% 12% 6% 30%
Dublin Bay North 19% 27% 13% 21% 20%
Dublin North West 19% 14% 17% 41% 9%
Dublin Rathdown 15% 30% 8% 6% 41%
Dublin South Central 14% 17% 16% 31% 21%
Dublin Bay South 19% 32% 13% 9% 28%
Dublin South West 16% 24% 14% 28% 18%
Dublin West 27% 22% 13% 14% 24%
Dun Laoghaire 25% 31% 14% 5% 26%
Galway East 27% 34% 6% 11% 22%
Galway West 28% 26% 5% 12% 29%
Kerry County 17% 25% 7% 23% 28%
Kildare North 23% 29% 14% 13% 21%
Kildare South 33% 27% 12% 14% 13%
Laois 37% 25% 5% 26% 7%
Offaly 32% 20% 2% 12% 34%
Limerick City 33% 34% 9% 17% 7%
Limerick  30% 42% 7% 8% 14%
Longford-Westmeath 30% 31% 12% 17% 10%
Louth 20% 21% 7% 40% 11%
Mayo 25% 50% 2% 14% 9%
Meath East 29% 32% 9% 19% 11%
Meath West 24% 32% 5% 33% 5%
Roscommon-Galway 21% 32% 4% 12% 31%
Sligo-Leitrim 29% 24% 3% 32% 11%
Tipperary 22% 22% 7% 11% 38%
Waterford 21% 29% 8% 21% 21%
Wexford 28% 27% 9% 12% 23%
Wicklow 16% 31% 7% 21% 25%

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 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 2 1 0 0 1
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal  1 1 0 3 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 2 2 0 0 1
Dublin Bay North 1 2 0 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 0 2 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 1 2 0 0 1
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin West 1 1 0 1 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 2 1 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 1
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0
Limerick  1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 1 0
Louth 1 1 0 3 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 45 54 3 30 26

These estimates also need to take account of the candidate and competition trends unique to the different constituency. Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or lost on the basis of estimates here being based on support levels derived due to a large/small number of candidates contesting the election in 2011 or one candidate polling especially well in that election, 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 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 2 1 0 0 1
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 2 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal  1 1 0 3 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 2 2 0 0 1
Dublin Bay North 1 2 0 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 0 2 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 2 0 0 1
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 1 2 0 0 1
Dublin South West 1 1 1 2 0
Dublin West 1 1 0 1 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 3 0 0 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 2 1 0 1 1
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 1
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0
Limerick  1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 1 0
Louth 1 1 0 3 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 1 2
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 45 56 3 34 20
% seats 28.5 35.4 1.9 21.5 12.7

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 59 seats) would fall well short of the number of seats required to form a government (79) but a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (combined seat level of 78 seats) alliance would be close to the number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (need 79 seats in a 158 seat Dail) and would need the support of one, or more, TDs from another political grouping (including one to take on the role of Ceann Comhairle) to be able to form a government. Of course, a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government, based on these seat estimates would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 101 seats).

Given the improved support levels for Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein relative to the 2011 General Election and figures in earlier (during 2010 and 2011) Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll figures, the seat estimates based on this constituency-level analysis still suggest a significant improvement in Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein seat levels relative to those won by these parties and groupings in the 2011 contest (especially given that the fact that there will be eight less seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the Dail opposition since 2011. The same applies to the Independents and Others, but it is worth noting that, as opposed to the parties, the Independents and Others grouping is a very broad church and includes a range of parties, groups and individuals with very different ideological perspectives, including the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit alliance and the Green Party, as well as left-leaning independents and Fianna Fail-gene pool independents. Looking at the constituencies where this grouping is predicted to win seats in this model, it can be seen that left-leaning parties and independents would take 9 of the 19 seats being assigned to this grouping.

The seat level estimate for Labour is very stark (highlighting the fact that the PR-STV system is proportional, but only to a limited extent). Previous analyses have, moreover, suggested that, especially given the increased competition on the Left from Sinn Fein, other smaller left of centre parties and left-leaning independents, that it will be a struggle for Labour to win seats in most, if not all, constituencies if the party’s national support levels fall below the ten percent level it stands at in this latest Millward  Brown opinion polls. On this analysis, the Labour parliamentary party would consist of Eric Byrne, Pat Rabbitte and Joanna Tuffy, but even these would be struggling to retain their seats on these basis of these numbers – with practically all of these Labout seats being awarded on the basis of very marginal calls. 

Labour would be in serious trouble if their national support levels fall below ten percent as the party is also facing a “perfect storm” from electoral geography and changed competition levels. These factors include the reduction in Dail seat numbers (from 166 to 158) and other changes made to general election boundaries by the 2012 Constituency Commission (which militated against Labour while seeming to advantage other parties, but notably Fianna Fail) as well as the increased competition the party now faces on the Left from Sinn Fein, other smaller left-wing parties and left-of-centre independents, as well as from Fianna Fail. When Labour support levels fell to similarly low levels in the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, the party was in a position to be helped in the 1997, 2002 and 2007 General Elections by transfers from lower placed candidates from the smaller left-wing parties, but on these figures Labour candidates would find themselves polling below candidates from Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party, the Workers and Unemployed Action Group or the People Before Profit Alliance, or left-leaning independents, in a number of constituencies. Instead of being in a position to possibly benefit from vote transfers (which themselves would be likely to dry up in any case), the Labour candidates would now in a number of cases be eliminated before the final count and would be providing the transfers to see candidates from other left-of-centre political groupings over the line. (If we look at the 1987 case study – we see Labour won 6.5% of the vote in the 1987 General Election and won 12 seats, but it is also worth noting that they did not contest nine constituencies in that election, whereas their 7% national vote is being distributed across all forty constituencies in this analysis, as with the most recent general elections in which Labour has contested all constituencies. In two of the twelve constituencies in 1987 where Labour won seats – Dublin South-Central, Dublin South-West, Galway West and Wexford – vote transfers were crucial in ensuring Labour won these these seats – i.e. Labour candidates were outside the seat positions on the first count but overtook candidates with higher first preference votes as counts progressed due to transfers from other candidates.

Constituency FPV Total Poll Quota % FPV Lab/quota
Carlow-Kilkenny          7,358          57,485          9,581 12.80 0.77
Cork South-Central          4,862          56,259          9,377 8.64 0.52
Dublin South-Central          4,701          51,692          8,616 9.09 0.55
Dublin South-East          3,480          38,270          7,655 9.09 0.45
Dublin South-West          5,065          41,454          8,291 12.22 0.61
Dun Laoghaire          6,484          55,702          9,284 11.64 0.70
Galway West          3,878          52,762          8,794 7.35 0.44
Kerry North          6,739          34,764          8,692 19.38 0.78
Kildare          7,567          53,705          8,951 14.09 0.85
Louth          6,205          46,809          9,362 13.26 0.66
Wexford          5,086          52,922          8,821 9.61 0.58
Wicklow          7,754          46,003          9,201 16.86 0.84

Voting statistics for constituencies in which Labour won seats at the 1987 General Election.

The table above shows that there was no constituency in 1987 in which a Labour candidate exceeded the quota and indeed successful Labour candidates, Ruairi Quinn and Michael D. Higgins won seats in their constituencies despite winning less than half of the quota in their first preference votes. In addition, Dick Spring came within a handful of votes of losing his seat in Kerry North.)

The changing seat numbers for the parties in the different analyses points to one reason why the Irish electoral system is not entirely one hundred percent proportional – thus underpinning the rationale behind this series of constituency level analyses of polling figures – as the manner in which constituency boundaries are drawn, or redrawn, can act to gives certain parties a significant advantage in terms of translating their vote tallies into seat wins. This knowledge, of course, formed the basis for the gerrymanders that marked the partisan boundary redrawal system which existed up to the 1977 General Election, with the party/parties in government being in a position to be able to redraw election boundaries in a manner that would allow them to pick up extra seats. In simplistic terms, in the 1960s and 1970s this amounted to the main government options seeking to create constituency units with odd-numbers of seats in the regions of the state where their support levels were highest (where a 50% share of the vote would be sufficient to allow them win 2 seats in a 3-seat constituency or 3 seats in a 5-seat constituency) and constituency units with even numbers of seats (i.e. 4-seat constituencies) where their support levels were weaker as a 40% share of the vote would be sufficient to allow them win 2 seats out of 4. Since the introduction of independent boundary commissions following the 1977 General Election, partisan influences no longer can skew the boundary drawing process in favour of a government party, or government parties, but as the example here shows a significant redrawal such as that envisaged in the 2012 Constituency Commission report will probably tend to disproportionately advantage, or disadvantage, certain parties or political groupings. Similarly, as the range of constituency level analyses prior to the 2011 General Election displayed, a party’s ability to take advantage of such disproportionality in the system, whether arising from constituency boundaries or a tendency for the Irish system to favour the larger parties, is dependent on that party maintaining its support at, or above, a certain level, as a fall in support for that party, even if relatively minimal, can lead to disproportionate level of potential seat losses if party support levels fall below a certain “tipping point”.

This concept of a “tipping point” is especially notable in the case of Fianna Fail. When the party’s support level fell below 20% in the latter part of 2010, this meant that the party – especially given its traditional catch all nature of support – was now in a position where it was struggling to win seats in a number of three-seat and four-seat constituencies, as well as five-seat constituencies in the Dublin region, where Fianna Fail support was notably weaker in 2011. The boundary changes associated with the 2012 Constituency Commission report acted to ensure the party would actually gain seats, irrespective of gains in support levels, as suggested by previous posts. With party support now over 20%, and with a very fractured political environment in which significant vote levels are being won by a number of different parties and political groupings, as opposed to the more straight-forward political landscape of the early 1980s, Fianna Fail is now in a position where it can expect to win seats in most of the larger (four and five seat) constituencies and will be competitive in most three-seat constituencies, especially in rural Ireland. This is translating into a disproportionate gain, relative to support trends, in seat levels for Fianna Fail. The level of seat gains suggested for Fianna Fail in this analysis also underpins the extent of “near misses” that the party endured in a number of constituencies at the last general election, meaning only a slight increase in support in a  number of constituencies would translate such “near misses” into seat gains, especially with the assistance of the recent boundary changes in a number of cases. Unlike Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein prospects of transforming vote gains into seat gains is stymied by the party’s weakness in certain constituencies, in which the party is likely to remain uncompetitive even if it should gain a few extra percentage points in terms of support levels. The more regional nature of the Sinn Fein support base is ideal for translating smaller levels of support into seat levels in its stronger areas, but it means the party may struggle to make the significant levels of seat gains on the basis of further increases in support that Fianna Fail could hope to make. Ultimately the political landscape of the next Dail will be determined by what levels of support these parties are standing on when the next election takes place (which could be as late as Spring 2016) but it will also be shaped by the different parties’ geographies of support, and the extent to which these support geographies might entitle these to a “bias” in terms of seat levels relative to support levels, or see the parties winning fewer seats that their support levels would suggest.

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The constituency support estimates based on the Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll figures (18th August 2013), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

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

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 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 2 1 0 0 1
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1
Cork North West 2 1 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 3 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 2 2 0 0 1
Dublin Bay North 1 2 0 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 0 2 0
Dublin Rathdown 1 1 0 0 1
Dublin South Central 1 1 0 1 1
Dublin Bay South 1 2 0 0 1
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin West 2 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 2 2 0 0 1
Kerry County 1 2 0 1 1
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 1
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 2 2 0 0 0
Louth 1 2 0 2 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1
Sligo-Leitrim 2 1 0 1 0
Tipperary 2 1 0 0 2
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 53 57 2 24 22

These estimates also need to take account of the candidate and competition trends unique to the different constituency. Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or lost on the basis of estimates here being based on support levels derived due to a large/small number of candidates contesting the election in 2011 or one candidate polling especially well in that election, 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 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 2 1 0 0 1
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 2 0
Cork North West 2 1 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 3 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 2 2 0 0 1
Dublin Bay North 1 2 0 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Rathdown 1 1 0 0 1
Dublin South Central 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Bay South 1 2 0 0 1
Dublin South West 1 2 1 1 0
Dublin West 2 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 2 2 0 0 1
Kerry County 1 2 0 1 1
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 1
Kildare South 2 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 2 2 0 0 0
Louth 1 2 0 2 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1
Sligo-Leitrim 2 1 0 1 0
Tipperary 2 1 0 0 2
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 53 58 4 24 19
% seats 33.5 36.7 2.5 15.2 12.0

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 62 seats) would fall somewhat short of the number of seats required to form a government but a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (combined seat level of 77 seats) alliance would be close to the number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (need 79 seats in a 158 seat Dail) and would need the support of two, or more, TDs from another political grouping (including one to take on the role of Ceann Comhairle) to be able to form a government. Of course, a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government, based on these seat estimates would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 111 seats).

Given the improved support levels for Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein relative to the earlier Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll figures, the seat estimates based on this constituency-level analysis still suggest a significant improvement in Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein seat levels relative to those won by these parties and groupings in the 2011 contest (especially given that the fact that there will be eight less seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the Dail opposition since 2011. The same applies to the Independents and Others, but it is worth noting that, as opposed to the parties, the Independents and Others grouping is a very broad church and includes a range of parties, groups and individuals with very different ideological perspectives, including the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit alliance and the Green Party, as well as left-leaning independents and Fianna Fail-gene pool independents. Looking at the constituencies where this grouping is predicted to win seats in this model, it can be seen that left-leaning parties and independents would take 9 of the 19 seats being assigned to this grouping.

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The constituency support estimates based on the Paddy Power-Red C poll figures (8th August 2013), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

  FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 36% 32% 9% 14% 9%
Cavan-Monaghan 22% 29% 3% 36% 10%
Clare 27% 33% 8% 5% 27%
Cork East 24% 33% 19% 18% 7%
Cork North Central 20% 22% 15% 21% 23%
Cork North West 33% 41% 8% 11% 7%
Cork South Central 36% 27% 11% 12% 14%
Cork South West 31% 41% 8% 11% 9%
Donegal 22% 17% 4% 36% 21%
Dublin Central 15% 12% 16% 22% 35%
Dublin Mid West 16% 26% 19% 18% 21%
Dublin Fingal 20% 26% 15% 4% 35%
Dublin Bay North 16% 28% 17% 14% 24%
Dublin North West 18% 16% 25% 30% 12%
Dublin Rathdown 12% 29% 9% 4% 46%
Dublin South Central 12% 18% 21% 22% 27%
Dublin Bay South 15% 31% 16% 6% 32%
Dublin South West 14% 25% 19% 19% 22%
Dublin West 23% 23% 16% 9% 29%
Dun Laoghaire 20% 30% 17% 3% 30%
Galway East 22% 35% 8% 7% 27%
Galway West 24% 26% 6% 8% 35%
Kerry County 14% 26% 9% 16% 35%
Kildare North 19% 29% 18% 9% 25%
Kildare South 29% 29% 17% 9% 16%
Laois 35% 29% 7% 20% 9%
Offaly 28% 20% 2% 9% 41%
Limerick City 30% 37% 13% 12% 8%
Limerick 25% 43% 9% 6% 17%
Longford-Westmeath 27% 33% 16% 12% 12%
Louth 19% 24% 10% 31% 16%
Mayo 22% 53% 3% 10% 12%
Meath East 26% 34% 13% 14% 14%
Meath West 23% 37% 8% 25% 7%
Roscommon-Galway 17% 32% 6% 8% 37%
Sligo-Leitrim 28% 28% 4% 25% 15%
Tipperary 18% 22% 8% 7% 45%
Waterford 18% 31% 11% 15% 26%
Wexford 24% 28% 12% 8% 28%
Wicklow 13% 32% 10% 15% 30%

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 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 2 0 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1
Dublin Central 0 0 0 1 2
Dublin Mid West 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 1 0 2
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 0 0 0 2
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 1 0 0
Louth 1 1 0 2 1
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 1 1
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3
Waterford 1 2 0 0 1
Wexford 1 2 0 0 2
Wicklow 0 2 0 1 2
STATE 36 53 12 20 36

These estimates also need to take account of the candidate and competition trends unique to the different constituency. Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or lost on the basis of estimates here being based on support levels derived due to a large/small number of candidates contesting the election in 2011 or one candidate polling especially well in that election, 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 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 2 0 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1
Dublin Central 0 0 0 1 2
Dublin Mid West 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin North West 1 0 1 1 0
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 0 2 1 0 1
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1 0 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 1 0 0
Louth 1 1 0 2 1
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 1 1 0 0 1
Sligo-Leitrim 1 2 0 1 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3
Waterford 1 2 0 0 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1
Wicklow 0 2 0 1 2
STATE 38 56 13 20 31
% seats 24.1 35.4 8.2 12.7 19.6

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 69 seats) would be somewhat short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming that a Ceann Comhairle from another party/political grouping is appointed), but would be closer to this than a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (combined seat level of 58 seats) alliance would be. In this scenario, the only viable two-party coalition option (assuming that a Fine Gael-Sinn Fein coalition to be highly improbable) would be a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government, based on these seat estimates would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 94 seats). The Red C poll figures do offer some comfort to the government parties and the relative stabilising of support levels for the government parties around the high 30s/low 40s level in the most recent Red C polls points towards the possible return of the government parties to power, albeit with a very much reduced, and indeed very narrow, majority, should these support levels be improved on further by a few percentage points at an actual general election. The Millward Brown poll figures have tended to be decidedly less favourable to the government parties in recent months, but especially in relation to Labour.

The most striking feature of this poll is the very high level of support being assigned to the Independents and Others grouping, resulting in a seat allocation of 31 to this grouping. This group is perhaps the most difficult to assess, given that it covers a very wide church of political interests and organisations, including a number of gene pool-Fianna Fail-independents and business-independents on the one hand, as well as a number of left wing political groups and organisations on the other hand. In this analysis, it is estimated that 17 of the 31 seats being assigned to this grouping would be won by candidates/parties on the left of the political spectrum. On these figures, if the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition option did not emerge, the shape of the next government could well be heavily shaped by different parties/groups and personalities from within this grouping.

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2 thoughts on “So what for Silly Season politics? Looking at the August opinion polls

  1. Why Labour is disproportionately elevated in RED C Polls
    Below MB Raw is the “don’t know” figure given by Millward Brown in the most recent poll published on Sept 1 2013. EF stands for Elevation Factor found by dividing final poll figures by the raw vote of the party concerned. The EquivRed C figure is my estimate of what the Red C outcome would be based on the MB raw figures. This estimate is based on the assumption that 10% will not vote and half the remainder of “don’t knows” are assigned to the political parties in proportion to the vote each received in the 2011 General Election.
    The figure for General Election 2011 were FG36 FF 17.4 SF9.9 Lab 19.4 Others(including Greens) 17.2
    The MB elevation factors differ marginally due to rounding
    Others include the Greens.
    The EquivRed C elevation factors differ substantially with the Labour Party receiving a factor of 2 as against a factor of 1.6 in MB. The nearest is FG with a factor of 1.65 in EquivRed C.
    Comparison of the absolute differences between poll outcomes or numerical elevations is misleading. For example an increase above the raw vote of 5 for a party on 5(MB Raw) is a totally different matter than an elevation of 5 for a Party on 17(MB Raw).
    Because The Labour Party is polling so badly (5%) in the raw vote and did so much better relatively speaking in General Election (19.4%) its elevation is disproportionally large in the Red C Process.
    Indeed my guess is that in an actual RED C poll that the Labour Party would receive a greater elevation than in the table above. This is because Labour is losing votes heavily and therefore the proportion of Labour voters in “Don’t Knows” is likely to be greater than the 19.4% Lab received in General Election 2011.
    There might be some degree of justification for the disproportionate elevation of the Labour party in RED C Polls if there was a reason to believe that these voters would return to Labour in an actual general Election. On the contrary, the evidence is that AFTER PARTICIPATION IN COALITIONS, Labour voters do not return in great numbers in the subsequent General Election.
    MB Raw
    Labour 5 EquivRed C 10 EF 2.0 MB 8 EF 1.6
    FF 16 EquivRED C 24 EF 1.5 MB 25 EF 1.56
    FG 17 EquivRED C 28 EF 1.65 MB 27 EF 1.59
    SF 13 EquivRED C 19 EF 1.46 MB 21 EF 1.62
    Others 13 EquivRed C 19 EF 1.52 MB 20 EF 1.60

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