RedC Poll Results June 26, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Okay, that’s interesting. A reversion to previous polling positions – more or less. Here’s the figures from the Sunday Business Post:
Fine Gael: 32% (+2)
Labour: 15% (nc)
Fianna Fáil: 18% (nc)
Sinn Féin: 16% (-3)
Independents/Green/Other: 19% (+1)
Why has FG gone up? Why have SF gone down? Was it the issue of expenses played hard by the Independent last week, though in truth given the number of FOI queries being thrown around the Oireachtas, or so it is said, in the last year or so since the new Government took power that should hardly have come as a surprise.
Pat Leahy in the SBP argues as follows:
Some diminishing of support for Sinn Féin might have been anticipated once the EU fiscal treaty referendum was passed, and the orgy of media coverage the party enjoyed abated. A survey by the media monitoring agency Newsaccess Media found that Sinn Féin ranked second behind Fine Gael in terms of its media profile during the campaign. But the party is down five points from its high of 21 per cent six weeks ago –- on the large-ish side of what you might expect.
It sure is. And Richard Colwell notes something very interesting about the fall for SF.
This fall in support appears to have come across a broad range of voters, but particularly men under the age of 44 and those living in more urban areas.
It may seem surprising, therefore, that Labour is not the main beneficiary, given that urban male voters have, in the past, been quite tightly linked to the party. Labour does consolidate gains made last month by retaining 15 per cent of the first preference vote, but does not make gains at Sinn Féin’s expense. This, again, weakens the theory that there is a direct link in the support between the two parties.
Instead, the reality is that, as Sinn Féin has lost votes, it is Fine Gael and independent candidates that have gained.
Does this indicate that a potential SF voter might just switch to FG, and vice versa? Well, Colwell seems to think so.
Fine Gael increased its share of the vote by 2 per cent, securing 32 per cent of the first preference vote. This returns the party to secure low-30s territory, having flirted with the high-20s for only one month at the start of May.
It also means it is some way ahead of the rest of the pack, if not quite back where it was at the last election. At the same time, independent candidates increased their share by 1 per cent during the past month, leaving a combination of independents (16 per cent), other parties (1 per cent) and Greens (2 per cent) at 19 per cent overall. This suggests that there is a much more fluid movement of floating voters between all four of these parties, rather than just the assumed direct transfer of support to and from Labour and Sinn Féin.
And he concludes:
In fact, Sinn Féin’s surge in support over recent months was as much off the back of Fine Gael voters switching to the party as anyone else.
That has a lot of implications for all those aforementioned parties, does it not? At least in electoral terms. Colwell argues that this means FG is in a good position as long as none of the opposition parties/groups break away from the pack. What must concern FG must be the fact that SF as much as FF and the LP is no longer an arms length competitor but an actual competitor for its votes. And part of the problem for them, and intriguingly a problem not dissimilar to that of FF, is the need to craft a message that can appeal to potential SF voters who might be persuaded to come over to them.
And this points to the incredible volatility remaining in the Irish political situation. On the surface all is settling into a neat enough pattern with Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Labour, and sometimes in that order, in the mid to high teens and Fine Gael in the low 30s while the Independents/Green/Others solidly on 18 per cent or so. There’s some movement, obviously, FG down a bit in some polls, SF up a bit. But dig a bit deeper and what Colwell suggests is churn on a remarkable scale. And churn between all the parties.
Interestingly Leahy argues that long term trends look rosy for Sinn Féin. He’s got a point. Every day that passes that party seems to broaden its appeal, even if only in small ways. That it is now up in the mid to high teens is, as noted before, a very significant achievement.
Though that said returning to the expenses issue this – unfortunately – appears to be something of a trait in Irish contemporary politics. The dogs in the street would be wary of any infringement of guidelines, even implicit infringements. It’s a no-brainer since the financial crisis, but even before that politics and politicians were open to stringent criticism – often justified. That any party would risk their reputations is curious in the extreme. That it is Sinn Féin who have already been burnt once in this Dáil term, although on an issue from the previous Dáil term. The new normal is now an unceasing focus on expenses and that isn’t going to change.
I’m not entirely convinced by that steady as a rock Independents/Others vote (and the GP stuck in there on 2 per cent, and as IELB said one E.Ryan well snookered by the boundary changes). But perhaps my bleakest thoughts of the past two weeks have been proven wrong. If so, with obvious caveats as regards the lack of forward planning by all and sundry and why they need to keep planning, I’m glad. But it is remarkable. One would think the needle would budge downwards, if only slightly. That it has gone upwards is strange indeed. I know this keeps being said, but at this point it looks as if Independent/Others will remain a feature of the Dáil in reasonably large numbers for some time to come. And that’s quite a change.
All of this is moot, though. I look at the Labour figure, no change on 15 per cent and I think immediately that the Budget approaches regardless. Other measures that were parked for the duration of the referendum are beginning to manifest themselves, and even if the Summer recess in the Oireachtas provides a degree of respite this will only be brief. As always fundamentally the best one can do is use these polls to map mood, beyond that it is events and processes that will shape outcomes.
And this is moot in a different way too. With new constituencies to map these percentages onto the situation changes radically. A Dáil of 158 TDs? The potential for no Seanad at all. That’s a lot of number crunching…