Thinking about the latest polls… February 22, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Fascinating to read the latest poll result from the Sunday Independent (Millward Brown took the poll) and see we now have something approaching a three and one half party system, plus a tranche of support for Independents and Others.
The Sunday Independent poll shows – when undecided voters (27 per cent) were excluded – Fianna Fail, 27 per cent; Fine Gael, 25 per cent; Labour 13 per cent; Sinn Féin, 20 per cent; and Independents/Others, 16 per cent.
What’s most striking about this is the way in which the polls now tend towards the same general conclusions. Fianna Fáil on the up, Fine Gael sliding, Labour reaching down towards its standard operating level, SF in the late teens or higher and Independents/Others remaining a remarkably cohesive bloc – albeit a bit of variation across the polls, but none showing them lower than 15 per cent.
The recent Irish Times poll had the following figures:
Fine Gael 25% (down 6%), Labour 10% (down 2%), Fianna Fail 26% (up 5%), Sinn Fein 18% (down 2%), Green Party 1% (down 1%), Independents, Socialist Party, United Left Alliance and Others 20% (up 6%).
And from January the last SBP Red C poll had the following:
FG 28% (NC), Labour 11% (down 3%), Fianna Fáil 21% (up 1%), Sinn Féin 19% (up 2%), Independents Others 21% (NC)
Of course these are snapshots, and no more than that, but the dynamics are consistent and – let’s be honest, disturbing. Fianna Fáil are moving upwards. There’s a fair old disparity between the RedC poll and the other two in relation to that party, but the underlying dynamic is one of growth. It will be useful to have a new RedC poll sometime in the next few weeks (perhaps next weekend) to compare and contrast. If there is indeed evidence of a shift from 21% upwards to the mid-20s it will be difficult not to read that as an halo effect – that as Fianna Fáil rises in the polls it becomes increasingly possible for those who wouldn’t afford it support to do so again. What does seem to be clear is that a tranche of those who voted for Fine Gael last time out are returning slowly to FF. That’s where a lot of the action appears to be. And in a way that’s a bit surprising. One would have thought that firstly more support would be hiding out in amongst the Independents and Others and secondly that those who had made the break from FF to FG would be loathe to return again (by the way, I have to admit to liking the title of this, and the point made about how the LP has by participating in Government cleared a space for SF to grow, not for the first time either, much the same occurred with the demise of DL back in the late 1990s where a fair tranche of the the residual radical vote that that party attracted never made the leap to Labour).
But apparently not. Though it’s interesting that in the Sunday Independent poll the Independents are beginning to take a hit.
What’s worth considering is whether SF’s strength will provide a ceiling on that growth of FF, or is the latter party fishing in a different pool, as it were. The thing being that FG in the period 2007 to 2011 oscillated between 20% and 36%, which suggests a base or core FG vote of the low 20s – on a bad day for them. If they are shifting down to that territory – as now seems likely, then there may not be a lot more of a vote for FF to mine there and so it will be onto SF and the Independents/Others.
The political effects of this are multiple. Note the most important one. The promissory note deal had no impact.
No real surprise there, perhaps. There was a bit too much calculation evident in the whole timing and sequencing of the events the week before last. And the outcome was far far less than might have been expected from a public facing yet another in a now long line of deflationary budgets.
And, in truth, if the IT poll is to be believed the situation was already one where FG had begun to slide. But the government, and FG in particular, will have pause for thought at just how little return there was on its rhetorically strenuous efforts on that matter.
Fine Gael for quite a while seemed to ride above the woes of its smaller partner in coalition. While the figures for the LP descended FG remained strong. But now it seems to have joined the LP in being affected by that pernicious dynamic. What impact does this have on both the longevity of Kenny as Taoiseach and leader and on short to medium term decision making? One would think that the former would come into question. And the latter will see all claiming their way is the best and their opponents in FG are in the wrong. Best example of that? Perhaps the abortion issue where one could interpret FGs decline as being a result of either not being explicitly anti-abortion enough or alternatively not cleaving sufficiently to a liberal position. I think, to be honest, it’s probably the latter, but the case will be made for the former. But I suspect their woes are the result of many factors, the reality of the last budget, the mixed messages over the ‘deal’ where it has been presented as both a game changer and yet also as making little or no difference on the ground. And of course the natural attrition of government itself, the need to take responsibility for decisions.
Labour? Who knows? It’s true that they could retain a fair few seats even with a significant further collapse of their vote, but… in a way their troubles precisely because they’ve been played out so publicly in recent months are perhaps less of an impact. We’ll see.
Sinn Féin could hardly be anything other than delighted at all this. Riding high in these polls, double and more their election figures in 2011. What’s not to like? In a way all they need to do is to consolidate this vote share and make sure to fend off the renascent FF. That latter task may be big enough, but it’s not beyond them.
And what of the Independents, looking a little less solid in this poll than in others – or is that evidence of a drift back and forth between Independents/Others and SF? That’s the big question. Are they a resource to be used by others or can they maintain the cohesiveness that brought them historic numbers in 2011?
The next RedC poll will be useful in answering that question, at least in part.