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60 seats for Fine Gael? Why let’s number crunch… February 18, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Reading the report of the latest poll in the Independent, and note that they haven’t conducted one like this – Milward Brown-IMS, all the trappings – in twelve months (!) it’s most interesting to see the prediction that Fine Gael could win 60 or more seats.

Let’s look at the detail of the poll.

The Millward Brown IMS poll published in today’s Irish Independent shows support for Fine Gael increasing by 4 per cent to 34 per cent over the course of the last 12 months.

Support for Fianna Fail has steadied and is up two points to 27 per cent while Labour has seen its support fall 3 per cent to 19 per cent.

The news is even worse for the Green Party which is now on just 2 per cent, down from 5 per cent last year. Sinn Féin has gained one to 8 per cent and the independents are steady at 10 per cent.

The poll shows that despite the fall-off in support for his party, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore remains the most popular party leader with his satisfaction rating up by 2 per cent to 54 per cent.

A few thoughts before turning to the 60+. Sinn Féin remains more or less where it has been. A solid 8%. Quite good really, and if translated into seats would certainly see them back with in or around the numbers they currently have and with the prospect of one or two more.

The Green Party… well, what to say. Within the margin of error, but if we factor in other polls from the last month or so we can see indications of a downward trend. The events of the weekend won’t help there.

Independents. Hmmm… I’m a suspicious person when it comes to the Independents category in polls. That’s a big bloc, no doubt about it. But I still guess there’s FF voters hiding out there. Probably less than before as the news begins to turn for them towards a more positive position. But… they’re there alright. On the other hand if the overall figure is 6% or more we can expect a fair few to be returned to the Dáil.

Labour. What to say? Perhaps some of the vote from FF is going home. Or, perhaps, some is going to SF. Or… perhaps some is going to FG. Either way we’re seeing much clearer indications of a trend where the LP vote is in or around the 17% range across a number of polls. Again, on a good day that could reward them quite handsomely with a good share of TDs. A couple of extra percentages and they’d be looking at a rerun of 1992. Tantalising for Gilmore. It will be telling how the transfers work.

Fianna Fáil is stabilising. As was almost inevitably going to happen. And trending higher. Not much higher. But 2% better than this time last year. Given their prodigious struggles over the last year they’ll reckon that poor recompense, but… they’ve another two to go… and again this week has given them heart like no other for many many months.

Here’s the thing about this poll. It was taken mid-week when the fall out from the Lee affair was beginning to dissipate. And, whatever about Pat Kenny’s wielding the RTÉ 16,000 responses poll on liveline to the George Lee resignation which were overwhelmingly in favour of the latter, it would appear that the general public wasn’t quite as smitten with George as his former, and future colleagues have seemed to be over the past few days. Or as broken hearted with his departure. Furthermore perhaps, and this pains me no end, Stephen Collins was right and the FG response and even that of Kenny (albeit his personal rating has dropped) was well pitched.

So, implausibly (to me) Fine Gael has strengthened again. And lo, 60 seats beckon.

So, let’s look at the shape of a Dáil where FG had 60 odd seats. It seems to me that if Labour is on anything over 13% or more they have to be looking at gains on their 20 current seats. So let’s be conservative and say they actually took 25 seats. SInn Féin should, on the figures, do as well as they did before. So again, being conservative let’s posit they have about 5 seats. The Green Party… I’m willing to bet they might retain up to 2 seats. Maybe not. But these are fractional changes all things considered. So let’s say they take 2. Independents, and here I’d include the SP and perhaps PBP… at most 9. Which would leave 65 Fianna Fáil TDs. Down 12 from their 77 in 2007.

Again, I’m trying to be conservative. It’s possible that the Independents/Greens would actually give one or two more to FF or FG. Who knows? But… the overall shape of such a Dáil with Fine Gael on figures still well below the 1982 of 70 TDs (where FF got 75 seats) would be something of a departure. Not because FG was larger, but because FF was so much smaller. Indeed for something approaching those figures we must return to 1992 where Fianna Fáil had 68 TDs. But in that context it was a diminished FG as much as a diminished FF which gifted Labour its largest number of TDs ever.

And yet, in 1992 FF retained 39% of the vote. 27% is so significantly lower one has to wonder how this would all play out, at least on the figures we see today. But all this indicates is that the hill FF have to climb is actually steeper than many (including myself) have suggested if they are to recover their previous position. Indeed I’m not sure how, or if, they can possibly do it. And it could be that they’re going to fare much much worse than suggested here. And given that, so far, there’s no evidence that the Lee controversy has blown FG off course – if anything the opposite (to know them, or more accurately to hear more of them in the news, apparently is to love them that little bit greater – for some).

Wouldn’t it be just a little ironic if George Lee’s parting gift to FG was to ensure that in the response to his departure he solidified rather than weakened Kenny’s leadership and the position of FG as a serious contender for government?

Comments»

1. Jim Monaghan - February 18, 2010

I think transfers will be very important. Ahern positioned FF togain heavily from transfers, this was his achievement, to break the anyone but FF syndrome. This will backfire next time.I see far more people going down the list so their vote satys in play against FF.I can see FG and LP voters even voting SF against FF> The byelections willbe interesting on this basis not just for the first preferences.
Why cannot Gilmore translate personal popularity into a vote for the party. Are the LP people so colourless?
On the Lee affar, I see a turn against electoral politics n the basis they are all the same and that anyway whatever combination are in will do/have to do much the same.The ICTU/SIPTU “love to talk” effectively demobilised any fightback and implicitely accepted the government agenda.
Oh, Greece is frightening people. I can see Des Derrwins point that the Greek workers seem to be fighting back. But here I think it is scaring people even more. The thought of the IMF and German gauliters in the Dept.of Finance deciding on the next round of cuts. Mind you they might tackle the senior civil servants.

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2. Dr. X - February 18, 2010

I actually did a bit of work on that poll. . . most of the FG voters were serene, but one Labour woman (recently unemployed) was beside herself with rage. The FF voters seemed to be voting that way out of sheer inertia. . .

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3. irishelectionliterature - February 18, 2010

Given the dislike for the current government, Fianna Fail and the Greens wont be getting many transfers, or at least as many transfers as they got previously.
Also the PDs are no longer with us and PD votes transferred heavily to Fianna Fail. In Dublin South, Dublin North and Dun Laoghaire The PDs transferred between 13% and 17% to the Greens.

The other issue is how the other parties transfer to each other and if we will see voters transfering everywhere just to keep Fianna Fail (and the Greens) out. Voting Tactically like many did in the Euro Elections.
Labour will also have to run second candidates all over Dublin to capitalise on this.
Also where there are Green TDs there tends to be a probable surplus of FF TDs (and Mary Harney). Dun Laoghaire, Dublin North, Carlow-Kilkenny and Dublin Mid West.
So the final seats there could go anywhere, assuming both FF and The Greens drop votes.
Re the Greens winning two seats, well I think trooping the colour with Willie O’Dea may well be the end of any hopes. Aside from Cowen and Coughlan , Willie O’Dea must be the most disliked politician in the areas where the Greens hold seats.
The implications of it being OK for the Minister of Defence, the man in charge of the Defence Forces, to deliberately mislead the courts are massive.

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4. sonofstan - February 18, 2010

It’s all rather tantalisingly unguessable isn’t it? There is, in our system, a seat premium if you get over 30-35% of the vote, and both FF and FG have capitalised on this throughout. The question is, what happens between 20-30%? A true, three way contest has never happened here……

What might be interesting as well is to see how the urban/ rural divide hardens: Dublin should be a contest between FG and Labour with FF a poor third, and the other cities may also kick FF where it hurts – leaving it as a party largely representing the BMW region.

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5. Wednesday - February 18, 2010

Judging by Finian McGrath and Maureen O’Sullivan’s decision to abstain from the vote against Willie O’Dea yesterday, perhaps votes for them should be considered votes for Fianna Fáil. There is certainly a whiff of “deal” about that decision, I can’t see any other reason for it.

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6. Steve Coppell - February 18, 2010

‘Labour. What to say? Perhaps some of the vote from FF is going home. Or, perhaps, some is going to SF. Or… perhaps some is going to FG. Either way we’re seeing much clearer indications of a trend where the LP vote is in or around the 17% range across a number of polls. Again, on a good day that could reward them quite handsomely with a good share of TDs. A couple of extra percentages and they’d be looking at a rerun of 1992. Tantalising for Gilmore. It will be telling how the transfers work.’

Is this the height of left-wing ambition, in the midst of the biggest economic crisis since the depression and after a sustained attack by Fianna Fail on many of it’s voting base? Another coalition?

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WorldbyStorm - February 18, 2010

I fear it is Steve, and it’s not what I’d wish. I’d like to see the left in its various formations work together openly while retaining their individual identities to present a genuine alternative – however insipid that may be in real terms… ain’t gonna happen given the lack of ambition we see.

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7. Letter to the Editor #1 | Stephen Spillane - February 18, 2010

[…] 60 seats for Fine Gael? Why let’s number crunch… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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8. Steve Coppell - February 18, 2010

Is the analysis below just mad then? Would a more direct attack on the government, an actual appeal by Labour to drive out the NAMA-slash and burn govt not bring results? Is an election in two years time, with the prospect of the corpulent Ruairi Quinn, the defiantly middle class labour front bench, the egotistic P. Rabbitte and the ‘your lucky to have a job, don’t go on strike’ Sean Sherlock the best there is? I’m not talking about a revoltion, simply a fight.

http://www.swp.ie/index.php?page=699&dept=News&title=Congratulations+to+the+Greeks%21

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WorldbyStorm - February 18, 2010

I think it overstates the balance of forces. But I don’t think it’s mad.

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QUAN - February 18, 2010

“I’m not talking about a revoltion, simply a fight.”

Many would think the same but many others would condemn you as a reformist.

Also as the article says : The socialists are the only ones who stand 100 percent with workers and against wage cuts.

The only ones mind you.

The reality is most left wing parties would rather fail alone and contribute nothing than join up with ideological allies and deliver change, any change, or improvement.

The strategy in the article may be useful but can the left put aside petty differences or will we all be at in-fighting as so often.

The only way the left can provide a united front is by being less dogmatic and argumentative. But we probably wont. We’ll instead keep arguing about political theory.

The sad thing is the analysis is okay and warranted.

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9. Purple people eater - February 18, 2010

‘Why cannot Gilmore translate personal popularity into a vote for the party. Are the LP people so colourless?’

Yes.

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10. Jim Monaghan - February 18, 2010

“Finian McGrath and Maureen O’Sullivan’s decision”
I should have given up on McGrath a long time ago but he was getting a sympathy thing over his recent loss. Alas, no more.
I liked Gregory but he settled for “socialism in a single constituency”, which is nonsense. To be fair to Kemmy he had a national vision even if compromised in my eyes with 2 nationism.
O’Sullivan, an anemic version of Gregory.
Independents are all very well but you will not challenge the ststus quo with them.
For a national alternative to tweedledum/tweedleedee.

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