Mixed results for the different parties in the January/February polls

Adrian Kavanagh, 9th/25th January/22nd February 2014

The trends of varying results across two polls published on the same date, as evidenced with the 26th January polls, is evident again with those to be published on 23rd February. The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (23rd February) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 29% (up 2%), Fianna Fail 22% (down 1%), Sinn Fein 16% (NC), Labour Party 11% (up 2%), Green Party 2%/Independents and Others 20% (down 3%). 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 37, Fine Gael 57, Sinn Fein 20, Labour 15, Green Party 1, Independents and Others 28. The Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll (23rd February) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 30% (NC), Fianna Fail 19% (down 2%), Sinn Fein 18% (up 3%), Labour Party 9% (down 2%), Green Party 3%/Independents and Others 21% (NC). 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 33, Fine Gael 63, Sinn Fein 24, Labour 7, Green Party 2, Independents and Others 29.

The two polls published on 26th January brought decidedly different results for the different parties. In 2013 the Red C polls tended to be most favourable towards the government parties, with the Millward Brown polls being decidedly less so. However, in the case of these polls, it is the Red C poll that offers the most sobering judgment for the government parties. One notable other difference between the two polls is the big difference in the estimated level of support for the Independents and Others grouping, in addition to the different trends in Sinn Fein support evident in both these polls. The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (26th January) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 27% (down 2%), Fianna Fail 23% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 16% (up 1%), Labour Party 9% (down 3%), Independents, Green Party and Others 25% (up 3%). 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 41, Fine Gael 52, Sinn Fein 23, Labour 7, Independents, Green Party and Others 35. The Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll (26th January) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 30% (up 3%), Fianna Fail 26% (up 2%), Sinn Fein 16% (down 5%), Labour Party 12% (up 3%), Independents, Green Party and Others 16% (down 3%). 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 47, Fine Gael 61, Sinn Fein 21, Labour 15, Independents, Green Party and Others 14. 

A New Year had barely begun when we saw our first opinion poll of the year, with a new Paddy Power-Red C opinion poll being published on 9th January 2014. This poll estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 28% (down 1%), Fianna Fail 22% (NC), Sinn Fein 18% (up 3%), Labour Party 10% (down 2%), Green Party 2%, Independents and Others 20% (Green Party Independents and Others combined stood at 22% in previous such poll). 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 40, Fine Gael 52, Sinn Fein 26, Labour 11, Green Party 1, Independents and Others 28.

Note that the approach used in this analysis is different to those of the previous few years in that it now takes account of defections/changing party affiliations for people who were candidates in the 2011 General Election, as will be outlined in greater detail later in this post (and as such the seat estimates for this, and later posts, cannot be directly compared with those for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 analyses of post-General Election 2011 opinion polls).

Constituency support estimates for different parties and groupings form the basis of the general approach taken with this analysis, which seeks to ask the following question in relation to different opinion poll results – what do these poll figures mean in terms of the likely number of Dail seats won by the different parties and groupings? Although the Irish electoral system is classified as a proportional electoral system, the proportion of seats won by parties will not measure up exactly to their actual share of the first preference votes, mainly because geography has an impact here – these first preference votes need to be filtered through the system of Irish electoral constituencies (and the different numbers of seats that are apportioned to these). In order to address this question, I estimate what the party first preference votes would be in the different constituencies, assuming similar (proportional) changes in party vote shares in all constituencies to those that are being suggested by a particular opinion poll. This of course is a very rough model and it  cannot take appropriate account of the fact that changing support levels between elections tend to vary geographically, while it also fails to take account of the local particularities of the different regions in cases where no regional figures are produced in association with different national opinion polls meaning that there is no scope to carry out separate regional analyses based on these poll figures. Thus constituency support estimates for different parties/groupings will be over-estimated in some constituencies and under-estimated in others, but the expectation would be that the overall national seat figures figures estimated will be relatively close to the true level, given that over-estimates in certain constituencies will be offset by under-estimates in others. Based on these estimated constituency support figures, I proceed to estimate the destination of seats in the different constituencies. The constituency level analysis involves the assigning seat levels to different parties and political groupings 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). Due to unusually high/low support levels for some parties or political groupings in certain constituencies in the previous election, the model may throw up occasional constituency predictions that are unlikely to pan out in a “real election”, but of course 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 this model is to get an overall, national-level, estimate of seat numbers and these are based, as noted earlier, on the proviso that an over-prediction in one constituency may be offset by an under-prediction in another constituency.  Based on such an analysis and using the new constituency units (as defined in the 2012 Constituency Commission report), these analyses estimates what party seat levels would be, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election. For a variety of reasons (including the impact of high levels of undecided voters in a specific poll), the actual result of an election may vary from the figures suggested by an opinion poll, even if the poll is carried out relatively close to election day, or on election day itself as in the case of exit polls, but the likelihood of such variation is not something that can be factored into this model.

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 (unless he decides to retire from politics before this) and this constituency will effectively be rendered a three-seat contest at the next general election. (Changes in constituency boundaries as outlined in the 2012 Constituency Commisison report have been factored in to this analysis. An overview of the political impacts of these changes on the adriankavanaghelections.org elections commentary site suggests that Fianna Fail would seem to be the party most likely to be positively effected by the redrawing of the constituency boundaries, with the Labour Party being the party likely to be the most adversely effected by these changes.)

As noted above, from this point on the models shall take account of the impact of defections from different parties and grouping. In cases where a General Election 2011 candidate has definitely left a party (or the independents ranks) to join another party or to become an independent, a portion of their 2011 will be taken away from the constituency base figures for their former party/grouping and added to those of their new party/grouping. The approach taken in the run up to the 2011 General Election was to assign all of the votes won by that candidate to their new grouping, but the actual 2011 results showed that this was an over-estimation of the likely impact  of such changes. For instance the Labour Party constituency estimates for Mayo and Roscommon-South Leitrim following the moves of Jerry Cowley and John Kelly into the Labour Party ranks were well in excess of the actual votes won by that party in those constituencies. In this approach, half of the votes won by a candidate in the 2011 contest will be assigned to their new party/grouping while the rest of the votes will remain assigned to their old party/grouping. Where a constituency boundary change is involved, meaning that part(s) of a candidate’s old constituency is now moved into another constituency/other constituencies, the base figures for all these constituencies will be recalculated to take account of this. For instance, the impact of Peter Mathews leaving the Fine Gael ranks means that the Fine Gael and Non Party base figures are altered in Dublin Rathdown, but also in the Dublin South-West and Dun Laoghaire constituencies. Note that this approach will not take account of candidates who have lost the party whip but who may ultimately return to the party at a later date or who have been temporarily suspended from their party, as in the cases of Brain Walsh (Fine Gael, Galway West) or Peadar Toibin (Sinn Fein, Meath West). This approach also takes account of those candidates who did not win Dail seats at the 2011 contest, including people like Fidelma Healy-Eames (Galway West), Eddie Fitzpatrick (Offaly), Jenny McHugh (Meath West) and Tom Fortune (Wicklow).

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The constituency support estimates based on the Paddy Power-Red C poll figures (23rd February 2014), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

FF FG LB SF GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 35% 32% 10% 15% 4% 5%
Cavan-Monaghan 22% 29% 3% 37% 1% 8%
Clare 27% 35% 9% 5% 3% 21%
Cork East 23% 33% 20% 18% 2% 4%
Cork North Central 20% 23% 15% 23% 2% 18%
Cork North West 32% 41% 9% 12% 2% 4%
Cork South Central 35% 28% 11% 13% 4% 9%
Cork South West 30% 41% 9% 12% 2% 5%
Donegal 22% 18% 4% 39% 1% 17%
Dublin Central 19% 17% 17% 20% 3% 25%
Dublin Mid West 16% 27% 19% 19% 5% 14%
Dublin Fingal 20% 24% 16% 4% 12% 24%
Dublin Bay North 15% 23% 14% 14% 2% 31%
Dublin North West 14% 13% 17% 32% 1% 22%
Dublin Rathdown 12% 24% 10% 4% 11% 39%
Dublin South Central 12% 19% 22% 23% 3% 21%
Dublin Bay South 8% 23% 15% 13% 9% 33%
Dublin South West 14% 25% 20% 20% 4% 18%
Dublin West 22% 23% 16% 10% 2% 27%
Dun Laoghaire 20% 31% 18% 4% 6% 22%
Galway East 27% 36% 6% 8% 1% 22%
Galway West 24% 25% 7% 9% 2% 33%
Kerry County 15% 28% 9% 17% 1% 29%
Kildare North 19% 30% 19% 9% 3% 20%
Kildare South 29% 30% 17% 10% 0% 14%
Laois 35% 30% 7% 21% 0% 6%
Offaly 31% 22% 3% 9% 0% 35%
Limerick City 28% 37% 13% 12% 0% 10%
Limerick 26% 46% 10% 6% 0% 12%
Longford-Westmeath 26% 33% 15% 12% 0% 14%
Louth 19% 25% 11% 32% 0% 13%
Mayo 22% 55% 3% 11% 0% 9%
Meath East 26% 35% 13% 14% 0% 12%
Meath West 29% 36% 4% 25% 0% 5%
Roscommon-Galway 17% 25% 6% 9% 0% 43%
Sligo-Leitrim 26% 28% 4% 25% 0% 16%
Tipperary 19% 24% 9% 8% 0% 40%
Waterford 18% 32% 11% 16% 0% 23%
Wexford 24% 30% 13% 9% 0% 25%
Wicklow 13% 27% 9% 15% 0% 36%

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 GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 0 1
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 0 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 0 0 2
Dublin North West 0 0 1 1 0 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 1 0 0 2
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 0 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 0 1
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 0 0 1
Louth 1 1 0 2 0 1
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 1 0 1
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 0 1
Wexford 1 2 1 0 0 1
Wicklow 0 2 0 1 0 2
STATE 37 53 13 20 1 34

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 (as in the large number of independent candidates competing in constituencies such as Wicklow or Laois-Offaly in 2011) or one candidate polling especially well in that election (e.g. the Shane Ross vote in Dublin South/Mick Wallace vote in Wexford) in a manner that would not amount to an extra seat for another member of the same party/grouping. Vote transfer patterns and vote management issues (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) also need to be accounted for. Taking these concerns into account, the amended seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this:

FF FG LB SF GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 0 1
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 0 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 0 0 2
Dublin North West 0 0 1 1 0 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 1 0 0 2
Dublin South West 1 2 1 1 0 0
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1 0 0 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 2 0 1 0 1
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 0 1
Limerick City 2 2 0 0 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 1 0 0 0
Louth 1 2 0 2 0 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 2 0 1 0 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 0 1
Wexford 1 2 1 0 0 1
Wicklow 0 2 0 1 0 2
STATE 37 57 15 20 1 28
% Seats 22.3 34.3 9.0 12.0 0.6 16.9

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 72 seats) would fall a few seats short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats); while a potential Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein alliance (combined seat level of 57 seats) would fall well short of the 79 seat target.  To have a sufficient number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming a deputy from another party/grouping takes on the Ceann Comhairle role), a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (or Fine Gael-Labour) alliance would need the support of at least twenty two (seven) or more, TDs from the independent ranks or from another political grouping to be able to form a government. A Fine Gael and Sinn Fein pairing would fall just two seats short short of the 79-seat level (combined seat level of 77 seats), but such an alliance looks to be unlikely in the present political climate. Ultimately, based on these numbers a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government would be the only viable two-party coalition and such an alliance would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 94 seats).  The reason why such two-party coalitions would appear to be difficult prospects could of course be attributed to the very strong showing (in support and seat estimate terms) for the different groupings associated with the Independent and Others grouping.

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) opinion poll figures, the seat estimates based on this constituency-level analysis 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 the eight fewer seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the main Dail opposition parties since 2011. The same also applies to the Independents and Others grouping, 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 and the People Before Profit alliance as well as left-leaning independents, but also politicians located in the centre-right of the political spectrum, including Fianna Fail/Fine Gael-gene pool independents and people such as Shane Ross and Stephen Donnelly. 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 14 of the 28 seats being assigned to this grouping.

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The constituency support estimates based on the Paddy Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll figures (23rd February 2014), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

FF FG LB SF GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 31% 34% 8% 17% 6% 5%
Cavan-Monaghan 18% 29% 2% 41% 1% 8%
Clare 24% 36% 7% 6% 4% 22%
Cork East 20% 35% 17% 21% 3% 5%
Cork North Central 17% 23% 13% 26% 3% 19%
Cork North West 28% 43% 7% 14% 3% 4%
Cork South Central 31% 30% 9% 15% 5% 10%
Cork South West 27% 43% 7% 13% 4% 6%
Donegal 18% 18% 3% 42% 2% 17%
Dublin Central 16% 17% 14% 23% 4% 26%
Dublin Mid West 13% 28% 16% 21% 8% 14%
Dublin Fingal 16% 25% 13% 5% 18% 24%
Dublin Bay North 13% 24% 11% 16% 3% 33%
Dublin North West 12% 14% 13% 36% 2% 23%
Dublin Rathdown 10% 24% 8% 5% 15% 39%
Dublin South Central 11% 19% 18% 26% 4% 22%
Dublin Bay South 6% 22% 12% 14% 12% 33%
Dublin South West 12% 25% 16% 23% 6% 18%
Dublin West 19% 25% 13% 11% 3% 29%
Dun Laoghaire 17% 32% 15% 4% 9% 23%
Galway East 23% 38% 5% 9% 2% 23%
Galway West 21% 25% 5% 10% 4% 35%
Kerry County 13% 29% 8% 19% 2% 31%
Kildare North 17% 32% 16% 11% 4% 21%
Kildare South 26% 32% 15% 12% 0% 15%
Laois 31% 32% 6% 24% 0% 7%
Offaly 27% 23% 2% 11% 0% 37%
Limerick City 25% 39% 11% 14% 0% 11%
Limerick 23% 49% 8% 7% 0% 13%
Longford-Westmeath 23% 35% 12% 14% 0% 15%
Louth 16% 26% 9% 36% 0% 14%
Mayo 19% 57% 3% 12% 0% 10%
Meath East 23% 38% 11% 16% 0% 12%
Meath West 25% 37% 3% 29% 0% 6%
Roscommon-Galway 15% 26% 5% 10% 0% 44%
Sligo-Leitrim 23% 28% 4% 28% 0% 17%
Tipperary 16% 25% 8% 9% 0% 42%
Waterford 15% 33% 9% 18% 0% 24%
Wexford 21% 31% 11% 11% 0% 26%
Wicklow 11% 28% 7% 17% 0% 37%

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 GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 0 1
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 0 1
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 0 1
Dublin Central 0 1 0 1 0 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 0 2
Dublin North West 0 0 0 2 0 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 0 1 0 2
Dublin South West 0 2 1 1 0 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 0 2
Kerry County 0 2 0 1 0 2
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 0 1
Kildare South 1 2 0 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 0 1
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 0 0 1
Louth 1 1 0 2 0 1
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 1 0 1
Tipperary 1 2 0 0 0 2
Waterford 0 2 0 1 0 1
Wexford 1 2 0 0 0 2
Wicklow 0 2 0 1 0 2
STATE 32 61 5 24 1 35

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 (as in the large number of independent candidates competing in constituencies such as Wicklow or Laois-Offaly in 2011) or one candidate polling especially well in that election (e.g. the Shane Ross vote in Dublin South/Mick Wallace vote in Wexford) in a manner that would not amount to an extra seat for another member of the same party/grouping. Vote transfer patterns and vote management issues (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) also need to be accounted for. Taking these concerns into account, the amended seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this:

FF FG LB SF GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 0 1
Cork East 1 2 0 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 0 1
Dublin Central 0 1 0 1 0 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 0 2
Dublin North West 0 0 1 1 0 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 0 1 0 2
Dublin South West 0 2 1 1 0 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 0 1
Galway West 1 2 0 0 0 2
Kerry County 0 2 0 1 0 2
Kildare North 1 2 0 0 0 1
Kildare South 1 2 0 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 0 1
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 1 0 0
Louth 1 2 0 2 0 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 2 0 0 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 2 0 1 0 0
Tipperary 1 2 0 0 0 2
Waterford 0 2 0 1 0 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 0 1
Wicklow 0 2 0 1 0 2
STATE 33 63 7 24 2 29
% Seats 19.9 38.0 4.2 14.5 1.2 17.5

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 70 seats) would fall some seats short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats); as also would be the case with a potential Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein alliance  (combined seat level of 57 seats).  To have a sufficient number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming a deputy from another party/grouping takes on the Ceann Comhairle role), a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (or Fine Gael-Labour) alliance would need the support of at least twenty two (nine) or more, TDs from the independent ranks or from another political grouping to be able to form a government. A Fine Gael and Sinn Fein pairing however would easily exceed the 79-seat target (combined seat level of 87 seats), but such an alliance looks to be unlikely in the present political climate. Ultimately, based on these numbers a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government might be the only viable two-party coalition and such an alliance would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 96 seats).  The reason why such two-party coalitions would appear to be difficult prospects could of course be attributed to the strong showing (in support and seat estimate terms) for the different groupings associated with the Independent and Others grouping.

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) opinion poll figures, the seat estimates based on this constituency-level analysis 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 the eight fewer seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the main Dail opposition parties since 2011. The same also applies to the Independents and Others grouping, 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 and the People Before Profit alliance as well as left-leaning independents, but also politicians located in the centre-right of the political spectrum, including Fianna Fail/Fine Gael-gene pool independents and people such as Shane Ross and Stephen Donnelly. 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 14 of the 29 seats being assigned to this grouping.

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The constituency support estimates based on the Paddy Power-Red C poll figures (9th January 2014), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

FF FG LB SF GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 35% 31% 9% 17% 4% 5%
Cavan-Monaghan 21% 27% 3% 41% 1% 8%
Clare 28% 34% 8% 6% 3% 21%
Cork East 23% 32% 18% 21% 2% 4%
Cork North Central 19% 22% 14% 26% 2% 18%
Cork North West 32% 40% 8% 14% 2% 4%
Cork South Central 35% 27% 10% 14% 4% 9%
Cork South West 30% 40% 8% 13% 2% 5%
Donegal 21% 17% 3% 42% 1% 16%
Dublin Central 18% 16% 15% 23% 3% 25%
Dublin Mid West 16% 26% 18% 22% 5% 14%
Dublin Fingal 20% 24% 15% 5% 12% 24%
Dublin Bay North 15% 22% 13% 16% 2% 31%
Dublin North West 14% 13% 15% 36% 1% 22%
Dublin Rathdown 12% 24% 9% 5% 11% 40%
Dublin South Central 12% 18% 20% 27% 3% 21%
Dublin Bay South 14% 22% 14% 7% 9% 34%
Dublin South West 13% 24% 18% 23% 4% 18%
Dublin West 22% 23% 15% 11% 2% 27%
Dun Laoghaire 20% 31% 17% 4% 6% 22%
Galway East 27% 35% 6% 9% 1% 22%
Galway West 24% 24% 6% 10% 2% 33%
Kerry County 15% 27% 9% 20% 1% 29%
Kildare North 20% 30% 17% 11% 3% 20%
Kildare South 29% 29% 16% 12% 0% 14%
Laois 35% 29% 7% 24% 0% 6%
Offaly 31% 21% 2% 11% 0% 35%
Limerick City 28% 36% 12% 14% 0% 10%
Limerick 26% 45% 9% 7% 0% 12%
Longford-Westmeath 26% 33% 13% 14% 0% 14%
Louth 18% 24% 10% 36% 0% 13%
Mayo 22% 54% 3% 12% 0% 9%
Meath East 26% 34% 12% 16% 0% 12%
Meath West 29% 34% 3% 28% 0% 5%
Roscommon-Galway 17% 25% 5% 10% 0% 43%
Sligo-Leitrim 26% 26% 4% 28% 0% 16%
Tipperary 19% 23% 9% 10% 0% 40%
Waterford 18% 31% 10% 18% 0% 23%
Wexford 24% 29% 12% 11% 0% 25%
Wicklow 13% 26% 8% 17% 0% 36%

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 GP IND*
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 0 1
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 0 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 0 2
Dublin North West 0 0 0 2 0 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 1 0 0 2
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 0 1
Galway West 2 1 0 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 0 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 0 1
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 0 0 1
Louth 1 1 0 2 0 1
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 0 1
Wexford 1 2 0 0 0 2
Wicklow 1 1 0 1 0 2
STATE 38 49 10 26 1 34

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 (as in the large number of independent candidates competing in constituencies such as Wicklow or Laois-Offaly in 2011) or one candidate polling especially well in that election (e.g. the Shane Ross vote in Dublin South/Mick Wallace vote in Wexford) in a manner that would not amount to an extra seat for another member of the same party/grouping. Vote transfer patterns and vote management issues (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) also need to be accounted for. Taking these concerns into account, the amended seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this:

FF FG LB SF GP OTH*
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 2 0 1 0 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0 0
Cork North West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0 0
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 0 1
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 0 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 1 1
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 0 2
Dublin North West 0 0 0 2 0 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 0 1
Dublin Bay South 1 1 1 0 0 1
Dublin South West 1 2 1 1 0 0
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1 0 0 0
Galway East 1 1 0 0 0 1
Galway West 2 1 0 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 0 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 1 0 0 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 0 1
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 1 0 0
Louth 1 2 0 2 0 0
Mayo 1 3 0 0 0 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 0 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 0 1
Wicklow 1 1 0 1 0 2
STATE 40 52 11 26 1 28
% Seats 24.1 31.3 6.6 15.7 0.6 16.9

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 63 seats) would fall well (sixteen seats) short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats); as also would be the case with a potential Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein alliance  (combined seat level of 66 seats).  To have a sufficient number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming a deputy from another party/grouping takes on the Ceann Comhairle role), a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (or Fine Gael-Labour) alliance would need the support of at least thirteen (sixteen) or more, TDs from the independent ranks or from another political grouping to be able to form a government. A Fine Gael and Sinn Fein pairing would fall just one seat short short of the 79-seat level (combined seat level of 78 seats), but such an alliance looks to be unlikely in the present political climate. Ultimately, based on these numbers a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government would be the only viable two-party coalition and such an alliance would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 92 seats).  The reason why such two-party coalitions would appear to be difficult prospects could of course be attributed to the strong showing (in support and seat estimate terms) for the different groupings associated with the Independent and Others grouping.

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) opinion poll figures, the seat estimates based on this constituency-level analysis 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 the eight fewer seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the main Dail opposition parties since 2011. The same also applies to the Independents and Others grouping, 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 and the People Before Profit alliance as well as left-leaning independents, but also politicians located in the centre-right of the political spectrum, including Fianna Fail/Fine Gael-gene pool independents and people such as Shane Ross and Stephen Donnelly. 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 14 of the 28 seats being assigned to this grouping.

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The constituency support estimates based on the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll figures (25th January 2014), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 37% 31% 8% 15% 9%
Cavan-Monaghan 23% 27% 2% 38% 10%
Clare 28% 32% 7% 5% 27%
Cork East 25% 32% 17% 19% 7%
Cork North Central 21% 21% 13% 23% 23%
Cork North West 34% 39% 7% 12% 7%
Cork South Central 38% 26% 9% 13% 14%
Cork South West 33% 40% 7% 12% 9%
Donegal 22% 17% 3% 38% 20%
Dublin Central 19% 15% 14% 20% 32%
Dublin Mid West 17% 26% 16% 20% 21%
Dublin Fingal 21% 23% 13% 4% 39%
Dublin Bay North 16% 21% 11% 14% 38%
Dublin North West 15% 13% 14% 32% 27%
Dublin Rathdown 12% 22% 8% 4% 54%
Dublin South Central 13% 18% 19% 24% 27%
Dublin Bay South 8% 21% 12% 13% 46%
Dublin South West 14% 23% 17% 21% 25%
Dublin West 22% 22% 13% 10% 33%
Dun Laoghaire 21% 29% 15% 4% 32%
Galway East 28% 33% 5% 8% 26%
Galway West 24% 22% 5% 9% 39%
Kerry County 15% 26% 8% 17% 35%
Kildare North 21% 29% 16% 10% 26%
Kildare South 30% 28% 14% 10% 17%
Laois 37% 28% 6% 21% 7%
Offaly 31% 20% 2% 9% 38%
Limerick City 30% 35% 11% 13% 12%
Limerick 28% 44% 8% 6% 14%
Longford-Westmeath 27% 32% 12% 12% 17%
Louth 20% 24% 9% 32% 15%
Mayo 23% 52% 3% 11% 11%
Meath East 27% 34% 11% 15% 14%
Meath West 31% 34% 3% 26% 6%
Roscommon-Galway 17% 23% 5% 8% 47%
Sligo-Leitrim 27% 25% 4% 25% 19%
Tipperary 19% 21% 7% 8% 45%
Waterford 19% 30% 9% 16% 27%
Wexford 25% 27% 10% 9% 28%
Wicklow 13% 25% 7% 15% 40%

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 1 0 0 1
Cork South West 1 2 0 0 0
Donegal 1 1 0 2 1
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 2
Dublin North West 0 0 0 2 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 0 1 2
Dublin South West 1 1 1 1 1
Dublin West 1 1 0 0 2
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 1 1 0 0 3
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 0 0 1
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 0 0 1
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 1 0 1 1
Wexford 1 2 0 0 2
Wicklow 0 1 0 1 3
STATE 37 50 6 23 42

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 (as in the large number of independent candidates competing in constituencies such as Wicklow or Laois-Offaly in 2011) or one candidate polling especially well in that election (e.g. the Shane Ross vote in Dublin South/Mick Wallace vote in Wexford) in a manner that would not amount to an extra seat for another member of the same party/grouping. Vote transfer patterns and vote management issues (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) also need to be accounted for. Taking these concerns into account, the amended 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 2 0 1 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 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 2
Dublin North West 0 0 0 2 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 0 1 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 2 1 0 0 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 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 1 2 0 1 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 1 0 1 1
Wexford 2 2 0 0 1
Wicklow 1 1 0 1 2
STATE 41 52 7 23 35
% Seats 24.7 31.3 4.2 13.9 21.1

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 59 seats) would fall well (twenty seats) short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats); as also would be the case with a potential Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein alliance  (combined seat level of 64 seats).  To have a sufficient number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming a deputy from another party/grouping takes on the Ceann Comhairle role), a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (or Fine Gael-Labour) alliance would need the support of at least fifteen (twemty) or more, TDs from the independent ranks or from another political grouping to be able to form a government. A Fine Gael and Sinn Fein pairing would fall just four seat short short of the 79-seat level (combined seat level of 75 seats), but such an alliance looks to be unlikely in the present political climate. Ultimately, based on these numbers a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government would be the only viable two-party coalition and such an alliance would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 93 seats).  The reason why such two-party coalitions would appear to be difficult prospects could of course be attributed to the very strong showing (in support and seat estimate terms) for the different groupings associated with the Independent and Others grouping.

15 of the 35 seats allocated to the Independents and Others grouping would be won by candidates from the left-wing or community candidates group.

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The constituency support estimates based on the Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll figures (25th January 2014), when using the new constituency units (as used for the next general election), are as follows:

FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 39% 32% 10% 14% 6%
Cavan-Monaghan 25% 29% 3% 36% 6%
Clare 32% 36% 9% 5% 17%
Cork East 26% 32% 21% 18% 4%
Cork North Central 23% 23% 17% 23% 14%
Cork North West 36% 40% 9% 11% 4%
Cork South Central 40% 28% 12% 12% 9%
Cork South West 34% 41% 9% 11% 5%
Donegal 26% 19% 4% 39% 13%
Dublin Central 22% 18% 19% 21% 21%
Dublin Mid West 18% 28% 21% 19% 13%
Dublin Fingal 24% 27% 18% 4% 26%
Dublin Bay North 19% 25% 16% 15% 26%
Dublin North West 17% 14% 18% 33% 17%
Dublin Rathdown 15% 28% 12% 5% 39%
Dublin South Central 15% 20% 25% 24% 17%
Dublin Bay South 10% 26% 18% 14% 33%
Dublin South West 16% 26% 22% 21% 15%
Dublin West 26% 25% 18% 10% 22%
Dun Laoghaire 24% 33% 20% 4% 20%
Galway East 32% 37% 7% 8% 17%
Galway West 30% 27% 8% 9% 27%
Kerry County 18% 30% 11% 18% 23%
Kildare North 23% 31% 21% 9% 16%
Kildare South 32% 30% 18% 10% 10%
Laois 39% 29% 7% 20% 4%
Offaly 38% 23% 3% 10% 26%
Limerick City 32% 36% 13% 12% 7%
Limerick 29% 46% 10% 6% 9%
Longford-Westmeath 29% 33% 15% 12% 10%
Louth 22% 25% 12% 32% 10%
Mayo 25% 55% 3% 10% 7%
Meath East 29% 35% 14% 14% 8%
Meath West 33% 35% 4% 24% 4%
Roscommon-Galway 22% 28% 7% 9% 34%
Sligo-Leitrim 31% 28% 5% 25% 12%
Tipperary 23% 26% 11% 9% 31%
Waterford 21% 33% 13% 16% 17%
Wexford 28% 31% 14% 9% 18%
Wicklow 16% 30% 10% 16% 28%

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 2 0 0 0
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0
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 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 1 2 1 0 1
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 1 1
Dublin South West 1 2 1 1 0
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1 0 0
Galway East 1 2 0 0 0
Galway West 2 2 0 0 1
Kerry County 1 2 0 1 1
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 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 1 2 0 0 2
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 1 2 1 0 1
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 43 59 15 22 19

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 (as in the large number of independent candidates competing in constituencies such as Wicklow or Laois-Offaly in 2011) or one candidate polling especially well in that election (e.g. the Shane Ross vote in Dublin South/Mick Wallace vote in Wexford) in a manner that would not amount to an extra seat for another member of the same party/grouping. Vote transfer patterns and vote management issues (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) also need to be accounted for. Taking these concerns into account, the amended 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 2 0 1 0
Clare 2 2 0 0 0
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1 0
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 2 1 0 2 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1 0
Dublin Fingal 1 2 1 0 1
Dublin Bay North 1 1 1 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 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin South West 1 2 1 1 0
Dublin West 1 1 1 0 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1 0 0
Galway East 1 2 0 0 0
Galway West 2 2 0 0 1
Kerry County 1 2 0 1 1
Kildare North 1 2 1 0 0
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 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 2 0 0 1
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 1 2 1 0 1
Wicklow 1 2 0 1 1
STATE 47 61 15 21 14
% Seats 28.3 36.7 9.0 12.7 8.4

According to these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 76 seats) would just a few seats (three seats) short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats); while a potential Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein alliance  (combined seat level of 68 seats) would be somewhat further off that target.  To have a sufficient number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming a deputy from another party/grouping takes on the Ceann Comhairle role), a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (or Fine Gael-Labour) alliance would need the support of at least eleven (three) or more, TDs from the independent ranks or from another political grouping to be able to form a government. A Fine Gael and Sinn Fein pairing have more than enough seats to form a government (combined seat level of 82 seats), but such an alliance looks to be unlikely in the present political climate. Ultimately, based on these numbers a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government would be the only viable two-party coalition and such an alliance would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 108 seats).  

6 of the 14 seats allocated to the Independents and Others grouping would be won by candidates from the left-wing or community candidates group.

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The seat level estimates for Labour are stark (highlighting the fact that the PR-STV system is proportional, but only to a limited extent), but most notably in the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll. 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, as has been shown in similar analyses of recent Sunday Independent-Millward Brown and Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI polls. Based on the analysis of this latest Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll and other polls covered in this post, 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 (as in the 1997, 2002 and 2007 General Elections) by transfers from lower placed candidates from the smaller left-wing parties. But on these constituency-estimate figures outlined in these analyses Labour Party 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.)

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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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2 thoughts on “Mixed results for the different parties in the January/February polls

  1. I would bet against Labour losing in Wexford with 12% FPV, or losing Longford-Westmeath if Willie Penrose is standing. I’d also bet that Sinn Féin could win some of the seats they didn’t even contest in 2011- have you considered benchmarking them to the Martin McGuinness vote?

  2. Adrian, In the follow-up PDF releases with the Poll it had SF at 22% in Leinster. I admittedly only did a quick calculation of your percentages for the province but I’m getting 17% as the SF total. Did you take account of the regional breakdown. For Connaught/Ulster I think the poll must have SF much lower in Cavan/Monaghan and Donegal.

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