More on the latest IT/Ipsos MRBI poll… October 18, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
That’s an interesting poll from Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI. The headline figures as noted previously by IELB here are as follows:
Fine Gael, 31 per cent (down one point); Labour, 12 per cent (up two); Fianna Fáil, 21 per cent (up four points); Sinn Féin, 20 per cent (down four points); Green Party, 2 per cent (no change); and Independents/Others, 14 per cent (down one point).
Most obvious aspects, SF down four points, Fianna Fáil up four points.
But this poll appears very much out of line with Red C polling across the year. And Red C has one distinct advantage in that it is conducted more regularly. Already we’ve had 8 such polls in 2012 as against three (including this one) from Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI. Furthermore IT/Ipsos MRBI appear to have overstated the SF levels fairly consistently across the last year or two. In RedC it never climbed above 21 per cent.
Of course, it is possible that when IT/Ipsos MRBI did their polling SF was indeed at a stellar 24 per cent in May (but it seems telling that in the case of RedC which conducted two polls that month due to the referendum the SF figure was respectively 21 per cent and a more normal 19 per cent).
That said this poll is of obvious utility to Fianna Fáil desperate for whatever crumb of comfort they can find. But 21 per cent. Really? That’s the basis for a fight back? And even still, they would want to look at SF which is in or around the same area.
What’s odd about it too is that there’s no clear reason why FF would be higher. Granted FG and Labour have had a pretty grim time of it in recent weeks with Health looming large, but if that is the case why then a mild uptick in the LP vote and only 1 per cent shed by FG? Independents (excluding GP) are tilting downwards, perhaps that’s correct, but perhaps not. RedC by contrast had them holding between 18/19 per cent across the Summer (including GP).
Some of us have argued that the status quo now is a situation where parties inhabit (or infest – depending upon taste) bands of support within which they rise and fall. This seems true of SF which has carved out an area between 15 and 21 per cent across 2011 and 2012. Labour likewise has 14 to 16 per cent and Fianna Fáil 17 to 19 per cent (all figures on RedC). There may well be polls which bring in outliers of those figures, but note that the margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.
Apply that to the figures we see here and it is entirely possible for the FF figure (and indeed that of SF) to decline to the sorts of levels we see elsewhere.
That status quo will, one suspects, be impacted by the Budget and measures subsequent to that, but so far steady as it goes.
Then Collins makes a truly odd statement:
Fine Gael has again slipped marginally, for the third poll in a row, but the party is still comfortably ahead of all other Dáil parties and not far off its general election performance.
If by not far off he means “quite some distance” then he’d be more convincing. The result FG had at Election 2011 was 36 per cent. The result today is 31 per cent. Or let’s put it a different way, if applying that sort of analysis to FF it would be as easy – and more supportable – to argue that instead of a rise in the FF vote what we were actually seeing was FF ‘not far off its general election performance’.
There’s one other thing as well. The IT because of the relative rarity of its polls tends to make extravagant claims. The poll in May argued SF was now second largest party in the country, in this one Collins states:
FIANNA FÁIL has bounced back to become the second-biggest party in the State for the first time in more than two years, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.
But either statement is nonsense. Neither SF or FF are ‘second biggest party in the State’ on foot of a poll. They may at a given time have the second largest pool of support, but that’s a distinctly different thing and it does no one any favours to pretend that it is otherwise.
One has to peer closely at the accompanying articles to get the Dublin figures, which would be subject to further caveats dependent upon sample size, but the figures appear to show FF on 15 per cent (up ? %, it does not say), SF on 15 per cent (down 8 per cent) and the LP on 19 per cent, Fine Gael on 29 per cent and Independents on 17 per cent. Collins admits that both in Dublin and nationally Independents will remain a fixture for quite some time to come.
And as for the Government itself?
[the] poll shows a drop in Government satisfaction – down six points to 21 per cent – while combined support for the parties of Government has survived intact.
21 per cent is disastrous and suggests that the credibility of the administration is now all but shot. And as Damian Loscher of Ipsos MRBI notes;
On the horizon are a property tax and the introduction of water charges in an effort to cut the deficit by €3.5 billion and broaden the tax base. But these changes have already been flagged and it may be other proposals that prove to be the most divisive.
He appears sanguine that SF has built a core of support, ‘the party has achieved a rating in excess of 20 per cent in each poll conducted since April and amongst working-class voters Sinn Féin is the party of choice’. I still consider this a remarkable development in Irish politics, to see a party effectively double its vote in the space of a year and an half. And to manage to retain it is something else again. Doesn’t mean it won’t slide back to earlier levels of support…but still.
Anyhow Loscher suggests that the LP, with support now concentrated amongst ‘the professional classes’ and with working class voters ‘drifting’ to SF is suffering from the Croke Park Agreement. Perhaps, but I’m dubious. More likely is the fact that it is wedded to the current administration.
Mind you, on the FF uptick he notes:
It is early days yet, but today’s poll may be the first concrete sign that voters are allowing Fianna Fáil back into the game. A jump of four percentage points is statistically significant and is concentrated within the older age groups (50+), among whom Fianna Fáil still trail Fine Gael but are clear of the chasing pack. It makes sense that older voters, some of them with a tradition of voting Fianna Fáil, would be the first to switch. Younger voters may need more time.
I wonder. What do others think?
And a further caveat, the poll uses the highly questionable AB, C1, C2 etc demographic stratification.
As always, why on earth is the Green Party still represented in these polls when even Collins must admit at the foot of his piece that:
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has seen his rating improve by two points, but only to 12 per cent. His party, which remains stuck on 2 per cent, is still struggling to make an impact in the absence of Dáil representation.
Or rather, why not have the figures for the ULA which has Dáil representation, or constituent elements of same?
What is needed now is a RedC poll in order to compare and contrast.