About that ‘biggest’ party February 11, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
I dislike the coverage of polls that starts as follows:
Fianna Fáil has recovered ground to become the biggest party in the State, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.
Who wrote that? Why Stephen Collins on the front page of the IT website.
And in October he suggested that:
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.
In April of last year he wrote that:
Among the best-off AB voters Fine Gael is easily the biggest party with 46 per cent, far ahead of all other parties. It does even better among farmers at 68 per cent but among the least well-off voters it has dropped to 19 per cent.
THE LABOUR Party has become the biggest political party in the State for the first time in its history, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.
Why do I dislike that? Well, because it’s entirely incorrect. Fianna Fáil has not become ‘the biggest party’. It is the party which in a single poll has drawn most support from a sample at a given point in time. Now it could be that FF is actually the biggest party in the state in terms of members. I don’t know if the last five years has altered its ranking in that regard, and whether FG has snuck ahead of it. Perhaps, perhaps not. Or it could be that subsequent to the next election FF might be the ‘biggest’ party in terms of seat numbers. But as it stands, at this point in time, it is not the ‘biggest’ party.
I’m clearly not the only one who dislikes that term. For, lo and behold, by the time the next morning rolled around that piece had been replaced by this on the front page:
Fianna Fáil has recovered ground to become the best supported party in the State for the first time since the economic crisis struck almost five years ago, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.