More on foot of the recent polls… February 10, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Adrian Kavanagh’s projections based on the latest polls are fascinating. Not so much the specific figures as the overall dynamics that they illustrate. He’s examined the two polls, one from RedC/SBP, the other from Sunday Times/B&A.
The 29th January 2017 Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 27% (up 3% relative to the previous Red C opinion poll), Fine Gael 24% (down 1%), Independents and Others 30% (NC) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 4%, Social Democrats 4%, Green Party 4%, Renua 1%, Independents 14%, Independent Alliance 3% – Sinn Fein 14% (down 2%), Labour Party 5% (NC). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 56, Fine Gael 45, Sinn Fein 24, Labour Party 1, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 5, Social Democrats 4, Green Party 4, Independents 21.
The 22nd January Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll estimated party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 29% (up 1% relative to the previous Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll), Fine Gael 23% (down 3%), Independents and Others 28% (up 7%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 5%, Social Democrats 1%, Green Party 3%, Renua <1%, Independent Alliance 3%, Other Independents 15% – Sinn Fein 17% (down 2%), Labour Party 5% (NC). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 59, Fine Gael 40, Sinn Fein 27, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 7, Green Party 2, Labour Party 1, Independents 21.
Now everyone is sceptical of polls, though interesting to see how in recent newsletters from further left parties they’re beginning to be referenced where positive, and as has been noted on this site these projections are useful more for the broad sweep than the more focused numbers – though Adrian Kavanagh makes precisely that point time and again. But a couple of numbers really stand out. For a start Fianna Fáil – there’s a recovery alright in this state, but whatever about the economy it appears to a recovery in FF’s poll numbers. Still a long long way from the halcyon days of the mid-2000s when 40% plus was standard operating procedure. But not too shabby given their poll rating in 2011. They’re almost 10% ahead of there. And 3-5% or so ahead of 2016. That’s quite an increase in less than a year, isn’t it, though nudging the MOE? Can they do better? Of course they can! And will, I’d hazard.
Oddly, though, this recovery isn’t impacting on Independents. Or not much. That SBP/RedC poll is oddly similar to the election. In 2016 the IA received 4.2%, Independents 11.7% (I’m rounding these figures), the GP 2.7%, SDs 3%, AAA-PBP 3.9 and I4C 1.5%. So the support for non IA Inds/Others is still more or less where it was. The other figures from 2016 were FG 25.5%, FF 24.3%, SF 13.8% and the LP 6.6%.
Where there is attrition is in FG’s vote, the LP vote, SF to an extent – though short of disaster they should have 20 plus TDs with relative ease. The SDs are intriguingly (and for them, worryingly) variable. The GP could come back with a couple of TDs or more or none, one suspects. I’d tend to the mid-range. AAA-PBP are doing well, should hold their current crop, might grab one or two extra. Might not. The LP are in problematic territory but I’d put money on them coming back with at least a couple of TDs.
As to government formation? FF have to be the serious contender for same. And who else? 79 seats is the charm. Or 79 +1. FF are nudging 60. They need 20 or a few more. SF seems to be reorienting towards willingness to go into coalition as a secondary component. It is not difficult to envisage the SDs, assuming there are sufficient of them, or perhaps rLP or even the IA coming on board to make up numbers. That 20 plus seats FF need from a coalition partner or two is beginning to come into view.
And here we hit the politics. Would FF work with SF? My sense is that matters have changed in relation to SF. Their inexorable rise appears to have slowed — which takes away nothing from the remarkable numbers they returned in 2016. Suddenly they’re not quite the threat they were, electorally to FF. There’s generational change in the air. Perhaps this is premature. But is it really so unlikely that in two or three or five years that they would cut a deal with FF? And if their calculation is that the times are also changing in relation to Independents, that that vote is likely to shrink and that there will be greater support for parties, well that’s interesting too… could they be thinking that a new leadership would expand their support? It might.
And this raises questions as to the role SF might adopt in this polity. Would it become, in essence, a replacement for the Labour Party, articulating a somewhat left of the LP rhetoric even as it enters government? How does this work? Where does this leave the LP itself if its rival functions not just as opposition but party of government? And what of everyone else and in particular a left riven between many different formations and groups and so on? And what of FF itself? As we’ve seen with the GP, and now FF, the Irish electorate is oddly forgiving. Could the same dynamic be seen with the LP further along the line? Or is the LP so hemmed in by others that its potential for growth is minimal?
I can’t help but think that just as the electoral map changed significantly from 2007 to now, so it will change again, perhaps equally so, in the next half-decade.