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A few more thoughts on the poll… February 2, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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It’s funny, that poll. There’s very little to add to what has already been said. In part because it seems too early in the campaign, which of course has yet to be declared officially on, to draw any particular hard conclusions from it [by the way I’d half expected AK of the Irish Election Literature Blog to do an analysis here, until he told me that he’s surrounded by piles of election literature already]. Take Micheál Martin. Too soon one would think to judge whether he genuinely is on the up. Given that we’re looking at what is now a four week campaign, or there or thereabouts, we’re going to see a raft of polls.

I guess what is worth saying is that this has to be quite positive for all the opposition and for Fine Gael very heaven as they remain buoyant. It’s not great given all that has happened, but for them it’s pretty good. They’re nowhere near the 41 per cent Fianna Fáil received in 2007, but they’re doing okay. Few would expect them to consolidate and increase their vote share, but if they remain in that 30 to 35 per cent band they’ll see significant gains in seats. 60 to 70? Quite feasibly.

For Labour, less so but still above that all important 20 per cent mark. That’s crucial if their ambition to gain upwards of their previous best in 1992 of 30 plus seats is to be achieved again. It’s sometimes forgotten that in 1992 they were challenged by Democratic Left from their left and yet they managed to make significant gains themselves while DL and the one WP seat amounted IIRC to five seats. So they can perhaps comfort themselves that they need not be too badly impacted by the ULA. But… on the other hand they’re also contending with SF. Two potential contenders on their left flank? And after the extremely high poll ratings of 2009 and 2010 a slow shift back to a 1992 figure? Lot’s to think about there.

For Sinn Féin they too are in crucial territory. Close enough to the mid-teens. A poll rating that promises them significant, though given that most expect it to fall back somewhat, seat gains. Even if one is pessimistic and argues that in the campaign they’ll fall back to say 9 or 10 per cent that will still see them near double, or more, their current representation. And in truth does anyone really expect them to come away with only five seats when all is said and done? Though on a slight tangent the political reality would seem to suggest that if they did the chances for a rebooted Technical Group involving them and whatever left Independents return is good. Either way they promise to have a much higher profile over the next few years.

And speaking of Independents. These are good figures. That’s quite a spike. Even better they don’t appear to be breaking towards Fianna Fáil in any great volume. It’s also hard to believe that the Democracy Now debacle will have any great impact on them since its half-existence was only revealed subsequent to the polls being taken. There’s plenty of room there for the ULA, already existing Independents and new ones to come to the fore even if there’s an attrition of the overall figure as FF regains some vote share.

Which leaves Fianna Fáil. The possibility of absolute collapse seems to have been averted, though some of the polling data from constituencies – take that Carlow-Kilkenny poll from last week – points to grim grim outcomes on the ground [and a surprising, some might say unlikely, increase in SF numbers]. Add in the numbers who are retiring and their two seat strategy and even with the Martin bounce, such as it is, they’re still in trouble.

We’ve heard, and it’s correct, that the electorate has been incredibly volatile since 2007. But what will be of particular interest will be the degree of further volatility seen over the next four or five weeks. Is this an election that will be characterised by voters seeking new homes or slowly returning to old ones?

A thought. Will FG retain all of its vote share in the wake of the arrival of Micheál Martin or will a few stray percentiles here and there head home? Because if much of the action seems to have taken place in relation to some SF support and a fair bit of recent LP support heading home why shouldn’t the same dynamic be evident in the FG vote? And that floating vote that helped assure 41 per cent for FF in 2007 was made up of a few percentages that could shift back again from FG.

Perhaps the most likely outcome, and surely the one Martin et al will hope for, is a flattening of support across the board with FG, LP, SF and the Independents ratings subsiding and FFs rising.

Any guesses on final percentages in general terms? It might be interesting to see how close we all get…

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1. Red C/Paddy Power Poll 2nd February | Stephen Spillane - February 2, 2011

[…] A few more thoughts on the poll… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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