Irish Polling Report

A place to discuss Irish opinion polls

Sunday blues

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Two more polls in this morning’s papers, which show significantly worse figures for the Govt than yesterday’s RedC numbers.  As is traditional, everyone is claiming that the one showing them doing best is the ‘one to watch’.  Which is fine if you’re more interested in self-delusion than anything else…

Sunday Times B&A offering is reported on here (€ paywall), data etc is available here , and Sindo’s Millward Brown is reported upon here.

First thing I noted in B&A is that while LP are 2% lower than last night’s offering from RedC (which itself was a ‘no change’ from the previous RedC poll), this survey shows a 2% leap from an even lower rating in their previous poll, with core vote up from 4% to 6% since last month, and the final adjusted figure up 2% to 8%.  This will be cold comfort for LP, who will be hoping RedC’s 10% is closer to the mark.  However, the general trend is at least positive, but must to do before most of their seats approach safety – for many of them, they need a big swing to even have a chance.

Biggest move among the big ‘uns is FG, down 3% to 28%.   FF unchanged at 20%, SF up 1% to 17%, and Greens apparently flatlining at 2%, however, that 2% rises to 3% when the Others are prompted with party names (which is a little odd, but happened in one of their previous polls).

Of the smaller parties, Soc Dems jump to 4% (having got 1% in the previous 4 B&A polls) – bit of a leap even within margin of error, I suspect either they have had some increase, the previuos poll underestimated, the current one over-estimates them, or a combination of all of these.  But they’ll be happy to read it!  AAAPBP occupying the 3% they’ve got elsewhere, WP who are measured here get 1% (right in the middle of the 0-2% they’ve registered to date) and Renua 2%. OTH/IND down 2%, but hard to read too much into that when, I suspect, there are Renua and possibly SocDem voters who still think their candidate is in that category.  Or it might be a reduction as people see the posters and realise they’re not.  We’ll see, I guess.

Projections from that poll as follows;

FG 28% 55
FF 20% 32
SF 17% 26
LB 8% 12
GP 3% 2
AAA/PBP 3% 3
SocDems 4% 4
Renua 2% 1
OTH 15% 23
100% 158

FG/FG arrangement of some sort most likely result on this outcome, as FG/LP would be I think too short at 67 seats to form a a stretch they could make an Indo Ceann Comhairle, maybe give a cabinet seat each to SocDems & Green, but that’s still them at 73 seats, needing another 7. While by my reckoning there would be up to 10-11 who could be dealt with, the chances of 7 of them all staying put (at least as far as a Budget vote)seems less than zero to me.  Candidates would be taking their posters down and storing them very carefully, as they’d be re-using them a few months later.

The Sindo/MB poll shows a worse outcome for both Govt parties, with less than a third of the vote (27% & 6%).  Unfortunately, there are no figures provided for any party outside the main 4 (in the online version anyway) and so I can’t project from those figures (the fractured nature of the current political situation is such that the composition of that 25% or so makes a big difference on the outcomes for the main 4), but I can note that in a previous full poll where LP got 6% their projection was 7 seats.  27% is lower than FG have got in recent polls, and I suspect they’d be low to mid 50s, which effectively would be the Govt on around 60 seats, well short of the 80 or so required to be re-elected.  In that case, you’d be looking at FG/FF (whether in cabinet coalition or some other arrangement) and/or a 2nd election.

Interestingly, only 45% of this sample say they are absolutely certain of how they will vote (which sounds at the high end), 35% pretty certain, 14% some reservations, 5% not at all certain, and 1% aren’t certain if they are certain or not…I think I often stand behind these people in queues…

Anyway, I’m off. Have a nice Sunday.




Written by Dotski

February 7, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Rainbow ahead…?

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Well, we’re into the campaign proper, and that means weekly polls from RedC (at least).  SBPost released this week’s results a little earlier, and while they show no movement outside the margin of error, the cumulative drift is currently in the direction of the outgoing Govt, if at possibly too slow a rate to save them.

Poll figures, and IPR projections, are as follows;

FG 31% 59
FF 17% 28
SF 17% 24
LB 10% 18
GP 2% 1
AAA/PBP 3% 3
SocDems 3% 3
Renua 1% 0
OTH 16% 22
100% 158

At 77 of the 81 seats required (including CC), this is moving in the direction the coalition would want, although they would still be found wanting.  The 2% gain from FG, coming in net terms from FG (via other swings, presumably), along with Labour holding what was a good poll for them last week suggests that, however unloved the current Govt might be, there seems little confidence for the alternative.  FG will see this as vindication of their current approach of talking about Fiscal Space… a lot of people in my timeline saying this is overly complicated language/jargon, but I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t understand what is meant by it.

SF will hope this drop is just a margin of error blip, and not the start of a trend.  FF continue to make no progress, and seem to be fighting SF for leadership of the opposition and little else.  LP…who knows, they may be pleased to hold 10%, but while this is well off the devastation some were gleefully predicting, 18 seats would still see a lot of TDs looking for Seanad nominations at the end of the month…

Below them, everyone in the margin of error, and hard to say exactly is going on…SocDems though will take some comfort from the 3% which would most likely see them holding their 3 seats, and will be hoping to push on up to take a few more – as one of the few parties that have not ruled out any possible coalition, they may yet to have an argument about which member of the triumvirate takes what was a LP seat at cabinet (perhaps the man with the same initials as the party?).

Greens largely miss out at this level. AAAPBP continue to struggle to break from the pack, and Renua have another poll showing them unable to even hold one seat.  My view is that they will do better than this on the day, as at least 2 of them in the running may still be seen by their voters as ‘independent’ (or even FG, in some cases….) – presumably that’s something at least postering achieves.

Anway, must run.



Written by Dotski

February 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Putting madness into the method?

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As you’re I’m sure all aware, the Irish Times/ MRBI published a poll this morning, which resulted in a lot of checking, at the end of which, has led to the discovery that the final figures are not a measure of the likely percentage votes, but of the likely percentages of “useful” votes.

Early look at the figures for me raised alarm bells as the LP ‘core figure’ was reported as having gone up 2% to 6% but final figure (after excluding 22% DKs) was unchanged at 7%. This was mathematically implausible, and I suspected either ‘at the edges’ rounding issues in both this & previous poll i.e. one rounded down, the other up, ( @Gavreilly pointed out the total came to 97%) or a transcription error in the Times.

Enquiries resulted in the revelation that there was indeed such a transcription error on the part of the Times, and I was informed that it was amended (current version on the web doesn’t appear to make mention of these values at all..) but that wasn’t all.  A footnote pointed out that the methodology had changed, and there was an additional question asked, as to the likelihood of the person’s vote being wasted (scale 1-10), and if they responded “1” (“makes no difference”), those people were omitted from the total figures, in the same way as people who say they won’t vote.

While I can see the intent behind this change, i.e. to measure shifts in those votes that make a difference (or at least that their owners think will), and those old enough to remember Ted Nealon’s Election analysis in the 70s will recall his concept of “Last Effective Vote” (admittedly measured ‘after the event’)– it does mean a ‘swing from last election’ approach is of little value, as this poll does not measure the First Preference Vote (FPV) but the % of FPVs that are considered, by their owners, may impact upon the result.  The swing is from one sort of measurement, to another.However, people aren’t comparing this poll with previous such measures, they are measuring it against the outcome last time, with a view to working out the sort of change #GE16 will make to the composition of the next Dail.

This causes a number of difficulties, aside from making it a different measure to other polls (which are attempting to measure FPV intention), including the last MRBI.

In the first instance, there is the issue of how one measures this accurately, and in a way that doesn’t instead skew for something entirely different.  Technically, the chance of any single vote impacting on the outcome of a single seat is so low as to be practically zero – there have been about a thousand constituency elections since the State was founded, and only a handful were decided by less than 5 votes, and, even in those cases 1 vote makes no difference. My vote will not change the outcome in my constituency.  Neither will yours. In theory, all votes should be excluded by this test as none are remotely likely to change outcome. However, they won’t, as most people will cling to the hope that their individual march to the polling station isn’t a waste of time.

Secondly, the more realistic/intelligent/engaged/experienced (or pessimistic) you are, the more likely you are to recognise this, meaning that cohort are more likely to drop out of the survey (i.e. them, rather than people whose votes won’t count in practice).  By contrast, the gullible/innumerate/inexperienced (and optimistic) are likely to be over-represented.  Of course, nearly everyone will think that hits their party most, however most of them will be wrong…I have my own view as to who this would benefit and who it would hit – you no doubt have yours…

But most crucially, the wasted votes are effectively ‘priced in’ where there is a projection to each constituency.  When I (or Adrian Kavanagh or Michael Marsh, or you) run a spreadsheet with whatever formulas, it produces plenty of constituencies where large swathes of votes – certainly their first preferences, which is what this poll is testing – do not count.  Take the last RedC, where Labour had 10%, there were 23/40 constituencies were the Labour votes did not elect their candidate (in my projection).  In many cases they may have elected someone else on transfers, but even here, in most cases, small beer.

In other words, of the 10% Labour got in the last RedC, as little as 6% of that may have contributed to someone’s election, and may therefore technically “makes no difference”.  Additionally, even those who were elected, many would see their vote as making no difference (Lowry voters, for instance, should know he is as safe as houses – their individual votes “make no difference”).

Of course, this will impact upon everyone, but least of all on FG as they are in with a shout everywhere, often could be 1 or 2 seats depending on how it goes, and are likely to get elected in at last 36-37/40 constituencies, perhaps more.  FF & SF will have some slippage (FF in most of Dublin, SF in parts of Dublin) but won’t lose much, LP lose a lot as are a national party but can expect 3-4% ‘wasted’ (or more) in a lot of places, GP similar, but AAA/SocDems/Renua all are likely to have quite concentrated votes in their areas (and no candidates in a lot of the areas they are weaker).  In the rebalancing, this would be expected to inflate FG, AAA, SDs & Renua, neutral for SF/FF, and hit LP & GP. (That is aside from the gullibility/inexperienced bias mentioned above).

The annoying thing about this meddling is that there was no reason for the change.  None at all. MRBI has been the most accurate in both the last 2 General Elections, and this change actively moves their final figure away from what their survey is telling them will be the result, and in a manner that is untested, to a figure that is of unpredictable usefulness, and is not a measure of FPVs (which is what the Irish Times are selling it as being in their reporting).  Of course, there are other adjustments that are made, e.g. for likelihood to vote, however this is measuring for something that has a real impact on the FPV, in the control of the voter.  There is no evidence that I’m aware of that being a ‘wasted’ vote makes a vote less likely to be cast, and if it does it should be picked up on the likelihood to vote question anyway.

I have asked MRBI via Twitter if they have figures on what this poll would have produced without that adjustment, and if I get it I will create a 2nd spreadsheet for MRBI polls that adjusts for that difference.  Without it, I can’t, and anyone saying they can  doesn’t understand what this data is.

One can only hope that someone who understands what this change does picks up on this, and it disappears before their next poll.

So, no projection at this stage, as the figures don’t measure likely FPVs, and so there are no FPV to project from.  Sorry about that, but gotta be honest.  It wouldn’t be accurate, and I’ve no reason to publish something that isn’t.


Written by Dotski

February 4, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Starter’s orders…

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Speculation rife that the election will be announced on Monday, allowing the Labour conference to be held in advance of the campaign, and a new RedC is out which will give hope to the smaller coalition partner.  The poll is in tomorrow’s Sunday Business Post, and is reported to be accompanied by an 8-page pull out election special, so I suspect it will boost circulation, not just in Mullingar.

Up to 10%, a steady, rather than spectacular, increase is evidenced by the polls, and there will be hopes among delegates this weekend that this trend for Labour will continue.  Values can go up as well as down, however, and anyone who gets carried away by these results may yet be disappointed. But clearly it is succour to candidates who, 3 months ago, would have seen their chances as between slim and none.  On these figures, there are over 20 seats where they are in with a shout, and local factors will push more into contention (of course, other local factors will push others out…sings and roundabouts and all that..)

FF, continue to flop, and one wonders how they will manage this, given their ‘brand’ is one of a party interested in Govt, but only if the biggest party.  SF and AAAPBP at least can sell themselves as an opposition who will shout loudest, Greens SocDems & Renua as smaller ‘watchdogs’ in a broader Govt, but what are FF for if they don’t contemplate Govt, with these figures?

FG will be unhappy to be down 1%, given the poll follows a conference, a factor Laour might bear in mind if they assume a further bounce is ‘in the bag’. Other than that, Greens at 3% will be happy, AAAPBP at 3% and SocDems at 2% will continue to be frustrated, and Renua at 1% will shift nervously.

Anyway, dinner cooking so figures/IPR seat projections as follows;

FG 29% 56
FF 17% 29
SF 19% 27
LB 10% 17
GP 3% 2
AAA/PBP 3% 2
SocDems 2% 2
Renua 1% 0
OTH 16% 23
100% 158

Outgoing Govt still well short of a majority, of course, but no other offering coming closer.




Written by Dotski

January 30, 2016 at 7:24 pm

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Go West…

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Am at work so not much time to mull over it, but a local poll in Galway West (sample of 240, taken by a local newspaper in conjunction with, er, a motor dealer…) has SF taking a seat (likely), but also Labour’s Derek Nolan hanging on, at the expense of FG, apparently through transfers (those polled handed a mock ballot paper).

Always hard to decide how dismissive of these to fairness its not wildly out of line with my figures, but even so, hard to see Nolan hang on with 7.5%  (1-2% ahead of what I’d expect on current polls) although I’m sure this will help motivate the team…presumably it does show potential LP has to get decent transfers (or at least no worse than anyone else).

Anyways, sin é…


Written by Dotski

January 28, 2016 at 5:19 pm

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Another poll out in today’s Sunday Times from B&A, which, to date, have shown greater volatility than the other polling companies, although in this poll that’s largely reserved for one party.  Given their lack of track record compared to the ‘big 3’, your guess may be as good as mine as to whether that reflects the electorate or the method, but no doubt we’ll see next month when, it seems, we’ll be able to compare their final prediction with a General Election.

The poll was taken 4th-13th Janaury, which (I understand) means it was largely taken before the RedC. A total of 27% are undecided, which is very high for this stage of the electoral cycle (remember, many those plumping for a party when asked are also likely to change their vote).

Also, interestingly, the Greens had two figures for ‘post adjusted’ total when you looked at the table and the bar graph (2% and 3%, which as you might imagine would impact greatly on their relative performance)…neither are mentioned in the commentary of the report as they are considered part of OTH by that.  It seems, however, that the extra 1% was hidden amongst ‘others’ and came home when parties names were prompted.  Which is interesting in itself…(although somewhat confusing for someone trawling through the report…)

I continue to bundle the Independents Alliance under OTHs, as many of the votes they attract are (I suspect) unbothered as to whether their candidate is in an alliance of other Indos or not… no-one really sees them as a party with policies/whips and I’m assuming the low rating they get here isn’t reflective of anything else.  WP turn up at the top end of their 0-2% cycle, but they are still kept in the OTH column as would be unlikely to take a seat with that distributed in a normal way (given lack of incumbents and a negligible vote in the last few elections)…this is different to SocDems and Renua who have outgoing TDs around whom most of a 2% vote share might be expected to cluster.  If (reliable) constituency polling shows one of their candidates with a chance of a seat I may revisit that.  Personally I suspect many saying WP are either Halligan voters or ex-ULA voters who confuse them with the SWP, but again, we’ll see before too long if that is the case.

As before, AAAPBP and Socialist Party collected separately and added to the total.

Anyways, IPR projections based on this poll are as follows;

FG 31% 61
FF 20% 34
SF 16% 25
LB 6% 7
GP 3% 2
AAA/PBP 3% 3
SocDems 1% 1
Renua 2% 2
OTH 17% 23
99% 158

First off,  this poll is suggesting the Labour revival found elsewhere is an error (or has dissipated and the RedC poll taken since this one is 3% out – right at the limits of the margin of error).  Reproduced in an election, it would produce an even worse result than 1987, when Labour got 6.4% of the vote and 12 seats, their worst result in most voters living memory.  While they would, even with these figures, in with a shout in 12-13 seats, 7 would appear to be the likeliest figure, and even then quite dependent upon transfers from 2nd FG candidates…and they could go as low as 5.  The only realistic Govt on offer would be FG/FF, with the alternative being a 2nd election.  Given these figures would give FF a clear 2nd place, it would be difficult choice for them…

Otherwise, figures aren’t enormously different from the big 3…FF a little higher but otherwise all within a percentage point or 2 of what you might expect.

All party leaders show a dip of 2-5% in popularity, save Martin who is up 1 to 41%, well ahead of the others who are all 31-34%, which is in keeping with this being a relatively good poll for FF.

Of some interest, given current narratives, is the poll on preferred coalition.  Figures were;

FG/LP 17%
FG/FF 13%
FG/SF 3%
FF/SF 11%
Other coalition 9%
Don’t Know 25%
Would not vote 6%

This shows no single option being the first preference of more than 17% who want ‘as you were’, and if it remains unchanged, will mean any Govt coming in would have great difficulty in justifying itself (making a 2nd election more likely?).  Interestingly, only 42% are recorded to want a Govt with FG, but it’s even less for Labour (34%), FF (24%), SF (20%) and OTH (17%). Admittedly there’s another 9% choosing other (un-named) options (speculating but single-party FG, FG/Renua, and SF/FF/LP would appear to be the likeliest options to feature), and 31% in the DK/DV columns, but that’s very much a ‘plague on all your houses’ response, and we are, most likely, about 6 weeks away from post election horse trading…

Some in FF might think this contradicts his having the highest leader popularity, but that’s a measure of satisfaction with someone in their current job…being satisfied with what he does as leader of FF isn’t the same thing as wanting him to be Taoiseach.

Any how, that’s all I’ve got time for. No doubt they’ll start coming in thick and fast over the next month.



Written by Dotski

January 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Plus ça change…

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A new RedC out in tomorrow’s Sunday Business Post, which is largely as you were …. headline figures show net movements of 2% from FG to FF, and 1% from SocDems to Inds. Both would be in margin of error.

IPR seat projections as follows;

FG 30% 57
FF 19% 32
SF 19% 28
LB 9% 15
GP 2% 1
AAA/PBP 3% 2
SocDems 1% 1
Renua 2% 3
OTH 15% 19
100% 158

Given the small movement there’s not much to say – other than perhaps notice the lack of movement (Govt may have hoped Budget measures reaching people’s pockets might have pushed them up a bit.  Soc Dems may be worried that the lift off hasn’t materialised just yet, but when you’re a small party in the margin of error, there’s only so much you can take from a single poll anyway.  They do appear consistently at 1-2% however, and it seems they have yet to establish themselves out there (their 3 leaders got over 1% in the last General Election between them), and will be hoping to do so in the next month or so. Renua alternatively may take some hope from this, although they very much scrape 3 seats on this simulation, with only 1 seat comfortable…they will need to increase substantially on this if they want to get at least 1 bum at the cabinet table.

We are also told;

“The poll also gauged voters’ attitudes to the recovery and the general direction of the country. While over two thirds of voters (68 per cent) of voters say the country is “generally on the right track”, some 60 per cent say that “we need a change of government in order to deliver a fairer society”

Again, hard to say what this means in practice.  Most partisans (the ones in opposition, anyway) will claim this means people want their party in Govt…however, every party think they are the party of ‘fairness’, it’s just a matter of who they think its currently unfair too…Renua would argue that their policies would be ‘fairer’ to the taxpayers, the hard left that they are ‘fairer’ to the disadvantaged….also supporting a change of Government pre-supposes a change of Govt in waiting, which, on current figures, would appear to be FG/FF or FG/SF. The likelihood of either (‘In The National Interest’) is something we will all have our views on, but few could claim, at this stage, that they are likely. A decent swing could make FF/SF/Inds mathematically possible, but would such a Govt last?


Anyways, gotta go!


Written by Dotski

January 16, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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