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The polls! February 12, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I was saying to someone on Monday that the ratings of the parties were unpredictable but not entirely surprising. By that I mean that SF at 24%, FF and FG trailing behind them, makes sense if one looks at previous polling. Fianna Fáil’s ratings looked remarkably weak for much of the time, mired in the mid-20s and below for a large part of 2018. Fine Gael certainly could have gone in expecting to do well up until around April 2019 when things began to go south for them, and in a way, bar a short recovery late last year, then fell away.

So underlying weakness for the parties. Martin was not the opponent that FG thought he might be – too tired, too sanctimonious, and despite the upswing for FF in 2016 that was never bought much further. The graph shows FF’s vote being incredibly volatile thereafter. For FG Varadkar did bring new popularity after the Kenny years, and for quite some time. They will, I think, rue the day they didn’t capitalise on that. By the time the election came FG was stymied by the simple business of government and the challenges of being non-interventionist in a time when state intervention had become not just popular but a necessity across a range of areas.

And SF? SF had for a long time had some pretty solid polling numbers, albeit variable. In a way they were similar to FF, polling across a range but never consistently sitting in it, in the way that FG did for a long period. But the difference being that the movement was suggestive of improved numbers should the chance arise.

As to the rest? Independents had a similar, in parts even parallel track to SF albeit at a lower point. Labour were solidly stuck in or around 4-5%. The Green Party at a lower number until last year (and note how their fortunes rose as FG’s dipped, and vice versa – indeed one could make a case that if LV inherited some of the glow of the referendum for a while, it was the GP who really made hay with that). As to the others an interestingly similar pattern of support for SOL-PBP and the SDs. Though in the case of SOL-PBP – and I’ve noted this before, their rating fell precipitously when the Solidarity name was adopted. It is not overstating matters to suggest they lost three or four percent of their support in one fell blow. Moreover some of that seems to have gone straight to SF.

Does this tell us much other than the Irish electorate remains volatile? Perhaps not. But that fact alone is very significant. No party can depend upon the loyalty of the electorate at this point. The sheer variegation of the political landscape, the fact that SF while doing very well is now amongst two parties of similar size support-wise due to the collapse of FF’s vote (and the continuing weakness of FG’s vote) in the past decade, while all others constitute another bloc of about 30 to 40 per cent is kind of terrifying I’d imagine for any of the parties. Which is no harm.


1. PMC - February 12, 2020

I think you are spot on about the impact that adopting the name Solidarity had on SOL-PBP. I appreciate that they wanted to present a more positive face but the Anti-Austerity-Alliance was a great brand and resonated with a lot of people. I fail to understand why they didn’t go back to running as the Socialist Party given the rising popularity of socialist politics and the rise of Corbyn and Sanders. Pardon my ignorance but are there still a number of community activists involved who are not members of the SP?

I have since noticed a trend where both in the media and in normal conversation, people will use PBP as a shorthand for SOL-PBP showing the prevalence of PBP as a brand. A quick look at the results across the weekend also shows that aside from their two TDs only one Solidarity candidate broke 1,000 first preferences, Sandra Fay. In contrast, PBP candidates did so in 11 constituencies where they had no TD (Carlow-Kilkenny, Clare, Dublin Bay North, Dublin Bay South, Dublin North West, Dublin Rathdown, Louth, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, and Wicklow)

If you look at the Council elections you can see that while PBP dropped to 7 seats, Solidarity dropped to 4. It’s a difficult situation and of course not entirely down to the name change, but there is a lot to be said for having a clear name and identity that people can rally behind, as Sinn Fein showed.


WorldbyStorm - February 12, 2020

That’s very true PBP as the brand now. Like you I get why they changed but surely the acronym could have been saved something along the lines of Alliance for An Alternative or something like that (ok better than that). But to blow up the brand, lose the brilliant colour scheme and the sheer simplicity of AAA. It seemed so counterproductive and I think it was. And your point re councils completely agree. In a world of SDs, etc AAA cut through !


2. EWI - February 12, 2020

Worth noting that the election day polling actually underestimates Sinn Féin support (there were seats which SF didn’t contest).

Liked by 1 person

Daire O'Criodain - February 12, 2020

Only one constituency I think? Cork North-West. Even a quota there would have moved the dial only marginally in context of 2m+ national turnout, but point valid.


3. Gearóid Clár - February 12, 2020

“For FG Varadkar did bring new popularity after the Kenny years, and for quite some time.”

I get that the polls must have show this at the time, but I never came across anybody who felt that (I might be in an echo chamber). In terms of people’s views of Varadkar that I encountered – and these people are quite ‘woke’! – I am reminded of what Gay Byrne said to Gerry Adams in 1994:

“…the fact that, whether you like it or not, a great number of people have ferocious animosity and antipathy and abhorrence towards your personally.”


4. roddy - February 12, 2020

Aye and I will thank Gay the rest of my days because that night a massive amount of people were so incensed by what he said that the SF vote soared in the North.


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