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That local poll in Cork North Central… February 15, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

Just scanning the Irish Times yesterday and in particular the IPSOS/MRBI poll conducted in Cork North Central the clear message coming through is of an election that is completely muddled away from the national polls. And the interesting thing is that it doesn’t contradict those national polls, or not much.

Consider the CNC situation. Fine Gael with two candidates is on 20%, a drop of 7%. Labour with two candidates is on 28% and sees a rise of 16%, Fianna Fáíl on 13% has dropped a crusihing 22%. Sinn Féin is on 16%, up 8% and the Socialist Party is on 13% and is up 9%. Others are on 9% which is up 1%.

Let’s not go overboard here, but as noted in the Irish Times on these figures ‘the Labour Party, Fine Gael and SF are well positioned to win a seat each’ which would leave the last seat a dogfight for FF with the SP challenging strongly. One caveat, as noted by the paper, ‘the only doubt about O’Brien’s [the SF candidates] prospects is whether the strength of support in the poll will turn into votes on February 25th’. That’s a very real issue.

It’s also worth noting the strength of Independents/Others, including the SP and the WP, the latter of which is on 4%. Clearly a national shift towards Independents/Others and SF too, continues apace.

And what is telling about this is that it points to the reality of the collapse in the FF vote. That 22% that it lost between 2007 and now had to go somewhere and look where it’s going primarily? Labour, SF and others.

But it’s the Fine Gael figure which is as important because where it has softened as here it has merely supplemented that dynamic generated by the collapse of FF.

Here is an urban working class constituency and given a range of alternatives to FF we can see that the vote has broadly speaking shifted leftwards to the extent that SF and the SP are in the running for seats.

I think that’s interesting in itself. It suggests that the FF vote fractured along increasingly radical lines, some for the LP, some for SF and some for SP/ULA. Now, that also comes with the caveat that much depends upon the candidates.

But it also suggests that where there are strong candidates that the left of Labour, and Labour itself, will do well.

Another piece in the IT on Dublin South West suggests that Sean Crowe will regain an SF seat here and that Conor Lenihan may now be in serious trouble with Charlie O’Connor more likely to retain a seat for FF.

If the collapse in the FF vote seen in Cork North Central is in any way correct and replicated more widely – as the general polls would seem to indicate – then FF may be in for a very torrid time indeed (though those who have observed O’Connors career thus far would probably say that he is uniquely well positioned to keep his seat).

I suggested a week or so ago that there wasn’t that much volatility expressed in the polling data from early in the election. How wrong I was, dig deep into the data as here and one can see incredible flux at constituency level.


1. John Meehan - February 15, 2011

I agree with most of this, but always be careful about constituency polls – the margin of error is 4.5 per cent, bigger than the 3 per cent associated with national polls (being fair to the Irish Times, this is stated clearly in the article). The most striking difference between this local poll and the national figures is the drop in the Fine Gael vote by 7 per cent. This could be explained by the margin of error, or it may reflect big differences between working class / urban areas versus middle class and non – urban constituencies.

I doubt the media hype about FG’s vote “inching” towards a one party government – 35 to 38 equals 3 per cent, equals the margin of error. New polls, based on bigger samples, and closer to election day, might show a clearer trend.

It will be useful to compare the opinion poll data with the real result.


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3. 21stcenturypartisan - February 15, 2011

The poll I would say is very accurate. I have been out canvassing every day bar Sundays for the last two weeks in this constituency and it bears up on the ground. FF will be hammered, they will get very little transfers. People have tended to comment on the FG vote. The FG vote here was a very personal one for Bernard Allen. He has now stepped down, and in his place are two very weak candidates Pat Burton and Dara Murphy. The county area comprises 53% of the vote, having said that, much of that county vote is concentrated in suburban areas such as Blarney and Glanmire which are full of people originally from the northside of the city, still it is noticeable in these areas of course that SF and the SP will not do as well, but nevertheless are doing reasonably. The poll further demonstrates the difference candidates with a good track record can make in the current climate. Both Mick Barry and Jonathan O’Brien are poll toppers in their respective wards, indeed, Mick Barry received the highest personal vote in the whole of Cork city in the 2009 local elections.


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