The first SBP/Red C poll of the Autumn September 27, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
In a way all this is a bit moot. The Shortall resignation may have impacted, or may not, but then again, as a snapshot of the situation prior to this it has some value. The Red C/SBP poll shows a situation that is curiously similar to that extant in June when they took their last poll. Fine Gael, no change at 32%, Labour down 1 at 14%, Fianna Fáil no change at 18%, Sinn Féin up 2% and Independents down 1 at 18%.
Most notable is the broad consistency in the results. I’ve argued for quite a while now that we’ve got a very stable shake out from the last election. Yes, there was – see diagram – a burst of enthusiasm from Fine Gael, a party riding high following its 36 per cent poll share at the election (and notably no similar increase in the LP vote). But subsequent to that it is fair to say that the picture has stabilised with the parties slipping into bands of support. A brief look at average polling figures across the period Election 2011 to September 2012 shows FG on 33%, the LP on 16%, FF on 17%, SF on 16% and Inds/Others on 18%. Of course that only gives us a partial reading.
SF has increased from 10 per cent (or slightly lower to be precise) at Election 2011 to 18 per cent today. A doubling of their figure. Fine Gael has fallen from 36 per cent despite the wild fluctuations upwards in the aftermath of the election. Independents/Others fell to 13 per cent but has broadly speaking retained that 18/19 per cent position. Labour has declined from their high of 19 per cent at Election 2011 (and never gone above that figure). Fianna Fáil has fallen to 14 per cent (suggesting that there may be a softness there despite the consistency of their vote) but remained in or around the 16 to 18 per cent area most of the time.
But one would also have to point to a certain fluctuation in the SF vote. Rising in the aftermath of the last referendum to 21 per cent. That might be an outlier, or it might not. It certainly suggests more scope for SF to make hay. And importantly the formation that appeared to suffer most during this period was the Labour Party. This is not unimportant when matched up with the softness in the FF vote. There appears to be some churn between SF, the LP and FF. This is hardly unexpected, SF can appeal to those who vote for each of the other parties in different ways, and – perhaps worryingly – vice versa. On the other hand SF’s overall trajectory is still upwards, so if any are concerned it should probably be FF and the LP because it suggests a potential SF vote of well in excess of 21 per cent. Granted that means SF has a difficult challenge, to hold together fairly divergent strands of support.
And it’s important to factor in the thought that political activity was muted over the Summer, not a lot happened and where it did it was – at least in terms of profile, more related to Fine Gael with Health woes or Labour’s concerns or the Independents/Others. That still surprises me, how strongly the Independent/Other vote has held up. One would have thought it would take some battering, any battering. But a one per cent drop is statistically insignificant. It could simply be noise (and in fairness the same is true of the Labour Party result, though they’ll hardly be rubbing their hands with glee). But given that we’re moving towards two years into this government one would have to assume that a large element of that ‘Independent/Other vote is now baked in (remember that at the last election it received 17 per cent including the GP). That has numerous implications for government formation.
Richard Colwell in the SBP has the following observation:
While the budget is still two and half months away, discussion about what may or may not be in it has very much been in the news over recent weeks. The impact of this appears to have hit Labour more than Fine Gael at this early stage, with evidence that voters who may usually be inclined to vote for Labour are more likely to feel that the coalition has gone back on its election promises on tax, and also worried that the coalition is not able to manage the economy.
That’s crucial. The Budget has yet to occur but for Labour even the run up to it is in electoral terms fairly grim. Following the Budget what will the environment be for them?
And there’s another issue, and that is one of trust. Colwell notes also that:
We asked voters whether they felt that the government coalition had gone back on its election promises on tax. Almost three-quarters (71 per cent) believed it has done, an increase of 5 per cent in the past year.
Of course, it is no surprise to see that the large majority of those who would vote for opposition parties feel this to be the case. Of more concern for the coalition is the fact that large numbers of its current or former supporters also believe it. Over half (57 per cent) of Fine Gael voters agree that the coalition has gone back on its promises, which is not a great result, but is at least significantly lower than among all voters.
For LP voters over 75 per cent of them feel that it has ‘gone back on its promises’. These are terrible figures for parties that are facing into even harsher times. And as Colwell also notes for the LP the figures are particularly concerning. On the issue of economic policy:
Just over two in five (44 per cent) of those who voted for Labour at the last election – and just over half (52 per cent) of those who claim they will still vote for the party – trust the coalition to manage the public finances.
At the least this suggests that the LP vote is open to question. One wonders about the 48 per cent who don’t trust the coalition to manage the public finances.
And the Shortall resignation does have ramifications. She’s high profile, or high profile enough. It is entirely possible that this will have implications as regards LP attractiveness to various elements of LP support. That’s something that has to be teased out further.
Colwell makes one more intriguing point, that for FF on 18 per cent there is the prospect of gains, not least because ‘there is still a substantial number of past Fianna Fáil voters in the current Fine Gael camp’. That too has implications.
Meanwhile, here Adrian Kavanagh on Political Reform.ie has some interesting extrapolations of the results, not least that the current government would be returned albeit with a smaller LP component – of course unless (and even if) an election was called tomorrow this is unlikely to be the outcome, but some food for thought there. An FF still sub-30 seats. An LP on 20. SF on 22. Others/Independents on 23 (12 of which would be left-leaning), FG on 66.
What all this points up is how contingent everything is on events. Last night was an event that was, a year back, entirely unpredictable. And yet now, here we are. Four TDs from the LP who have stepped back some or all of the way (though none is quite as apostate as Naughten is from FG). But if the events, or the likely events are already stacked up as ones that will impact negatively on the government.
There will be those in government today – particularly today, after yesterday evening – who will count themselves lucky if those are anything close to the actual results of the next election.