Irish Polling Report

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Northern Express

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Dave over on has revealed in a scoop the details of a RedC poll for Paddy Power, showing Pearse Doherty of SF basically running away with it.

The poll, taken over the weekend, showed the following state of the candidates (percentage 2nd prefs in brackets);

Doherty (SF) 40% (19%)
O’Domhnaill (FF) 19% (10%)
O’Neill (FG) 16% (14%)
McBreaty (LP) 15% (20%)
Pringle (Ind) 8% (9%)
Sweeney(Ind) 2% (7%)

According to Dave, the m.o.e. is 4.4%, which puts FF/FG/LP all bunched together, and RedC are reporting that McBrearty ends up ahead of O’Neill, which will disappoint FG, given O’Neill and Pringle occupy the same neck of the woods. Assuming that McBreaty gets a good transfer from the FG candidate, this would to appear to make him likely to pull in FF and make it to the last count, but he’s so far behind, it’s hard to see him pull in Doherty, who is now red hot favourite to win the seat.

SF will be delighted with this. While they knew Doherty was doing well, the court case in particular giving him the perfect momentum, 40% suggests that his media performances have also gone down well. Certainly he’s polling well outside his republican comfort zone, and is no doubt also benefiting from a bandwagon effect. Of particular comfort to him will be that he has the second highest level of transfers, which suggests that he’ll not be stuck at that 40% as the counts progress. While a large chunk of that 19% may be in the 15% of LP voters, and McBreaty may end up being the only other candidate not eliminated, there’s presumably enough in the other piles (including Pringle’s) to see him over the line. At this stage, he only has to make sure that he doesn’t do anything wrong.

FF will be sick to see how far they’ve dropped. They didn’t really think they could win this election, but they were talking up their chances in media briefings in the hope they could rally the troops sufficiently to get a decent result. This falls well short of that territory, and while they’ll do better in a GE, this suggests that they’ll need their act together to even hold one seat, whenever that happens.

LP should be very pleased. Most commentary has suggested that the campaign has gone badly for them, so if they are ending up ahead of FG on transfers, and competitive with FF for second place, it’s an extraordinary poll for a man who has had more than his share of adversity in the past. They got 3% here in ’07, and about 8% in ’09 in the LEs, so this would suggest that the sort of swings being projected by the spreadsheet in rural Ireland are pretty close to the mark (sorry, Tommy!), and it’s notable that he has the highest percentage of second preferences. He’ll be hoping that he can get some momentum from this, and can gain enough to catch SF. It looks a long shot to me, but given the nature of his vote, I’d say FG would transfer to him in higher numbers than the other way around, and also I suspect that FF voters in Donegal would be less antagonistic to LP than FG, so McBrearty appears to be the only candidate with even an outside chance of catching Doherty. Mind you, one presumes that the margin he overtakes O’Neill by is within the margin of error, so he’s not certain of that by any means, and the impact of this poll will be interesting. I still can’t see him catching Doherty without something game-changing happening, though, and there’s still every chance he could fail to catch O’Neill and O’Domhnaill.

This result would be a disaster for FG, if they end up eliminated before LP (and not much better if they only scraped ahead). How Kenny would spin it, I’m not sure. Certainly by-elections can be funny things, but to be down, and fall so far behind SF, to still be behind FF, and finally to be probably caught by LP, in Donegal of all places, well that’s not good. Their choice of candidate, who hasn’t come across as especially strong could be part of the problem, and suspicions persist that McGinlay doesn’t want to leave the stage just yet. But if this is how it pans out, there’ll be rumblings….

General Election
Also in the figures supplied by Dave are the voting intentions in a GE. These are almost as stunning (in fact, more so, IMO). The pollster makes the important point that the By-election candidates may have a higher profile than sitting TDs at present, and this is particularly important in the context of the FF and FG vote being split so evenly. However, it comes in at

Doherty (SF) 31%
McBreaty (LP) 18%
McGinley (FG) 13%
O’Neill (FG) 12%
Coughlan (FF) 10%
O’Domhnaill (FF) 9%
Pringle (IND) 6%
Sweeney (IND) 1%

That’s almost certainly Doherty elected, with McBrearty, and McGinley both beating Coughlan to the last two seats. NO FF seat in one of their safest constituencies. That’s possibly FF lower than I expect, and I can see a recovery of sorts in a GE. But it’s a bad place to be starting from.

Also in the poll is a measure of choice of Taoiseach, which is also interesting. Nearly half (46%) prefer Eamon Gilmore, with Kenny (18%), and Cowen (13%) showing very strong support for the Labour leader in a very rural constituency. No doubt FG posters will say that this is all pointless, as he won’t have the candidates to be elected, but the figures from the main poll suggest otherwise. Certainly it would appear reasonable to believe that in a General Election, the campaigning by party leaders would assume greater prominence than in a by-election, and a bit of Gilmore’s star-dust would rub off on the various Frank McBreatys around the country.

All in all? A great poll for SF, a very good one for LP, a pretty bad one for FG, and a lousy one for FF.

I know a few people who’ll raise a glass to that…..

Written by Dotski

November 17, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Responses

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  1. I think that Barry O’Neill hasn’t been an inspirational candidate especially on the telly but FG will have to take some heart from the fact that with 4.4% of a margin for error that there is a real chance of finishing 2nd on the first count ahead of FF and Labour. Of course, it would be very much about looking for some positive news in a story that is really all about Pearse Doherty’s probably triumph (if I was up there voting, I’d be 1 for FG 2 for SF and 3 for Labour.) That said it at least gives FG and Labour something to aim for, FF are probably not even at the races for damage limitation at this stage. It is possible this poll might depress their turnout even more on the day.

    Daniel Sullivan

    November 17, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    • well, yes, but there’s also a chance that he’s barely ahead of Pringle (11.6% vs 10.4%), and less than 2/3 of Lp (19.4%!). Given the FG poll that showed McBrearty ahead of O’Neill didn’t include Indos, and given McB is supposed to pull ahead of O’Neill on Indo transfers, it looks like this poll is pretty much on the money vis-a-vis FG and LP. Given the main surprise regarding the 2 of them is the LP performance, you’d have to imagine some degree of bandwagon effect of McB.

      O’Neill isn’t out of the fight for 3rd just yet, but it’ getting a steeper climb all the time.

      I would agree though that the biggest losers are FF, and yes there may be a resignation now – had they been almost level there could have been a shove to get ppl to the polling station, but you can see a lot of them now ask “what’s the point”.

      I can see SF safe enough, although they could lose some complacent votes to LP among voters who’d like to see FF come third.


      November 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm

  2. […] of constituency polls in Dublin SE Donegal SW, Cork SC, Cork NW, and Dun […]

  3. […] mentioned in the previous entry, had a scoop yesterday, releasing the RedC/Paddy Power poll in Donegal SW some hours before any mainstream media outlet. Aside from the By-election polling, the poll gave […]

  4. […] FF do somewhat better than the GE polling here last week they still lose out to McBrearty for the last seat as in that poll, on SF and FG transfers. Strange […]

  5. RE Donegal NE the poll prediction was quite accurate which would lead one to think that polls are becoming alot more accurate

    a lesser public servant

    December 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    • I think that they generally are, even when they appear not to be. RedC as they say are more rigorous in who they exclude as unlikely to vote than MRBI, but in a sense that’s measuring a lightly different thing (e.g. in the States there are often 2 polls, one of all voters and other of those “certain to vote”, which indicates how hard/soft those preferences are. You would of course expect those to harden (or change preference) as the election approaches.

      Personally I’d love to see an analysis of those who are in the don’t know category, as they will generally ahve some idea of who they won’t vote for, e.g. they could include someone who is definitely not voting FF, but probably not FG either, and are leaning between LP and SF, and someone else between FG and LP. An indication of the proportion of all those voters would be very interesting.


      December 20, 2010 at 11:14 am

      • In the US they also ask and track who you voted for the previous time, and they also have the benefit of people being publicly registered as Democrats, republicans or independents to focus their polling.

        The big unknown or current unponderable is what I would term the political steppes, for example FG would have an upper limit in terms of who might vote for them even if they had the cure for all forms of cancer and a machine for printing money, black FFers, SF diehards, that Workers’ party member in Mayo and so on. Say that limit is about 70% of the electorate, but FG also can’t appeal to the entirety of that 70% at the same time, some of the 70% might resent there being a cure for cancer (those working for the pharma perhaps) or be opposed to free money (hard working stoical types) so FG is upper bounded by some figure but what is it. Who is still open to being convinced by FG, and the same applies to the other parties.

        That appears to be something that RED C is now tracking and it will make for interesting reading.

        Daniel Sullivan

        December 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm

        • Would agree that’s the vital thing in working out what to do with the DKs, and it’s good they are starting to track it, but I’m trying to work out what they are measuring. Of the poll, 58% are “definitely” voting for a particular party, which is straightforward enough, however there’s a further 88% who will “most likely” vote for a listed party, and another 54% who “probably will” vote for a listed party. It seems to be all votes, not first preference, which isn’t a lot of use to us in trying to tie down the likely destination of DKs when it comes to FPVs.


          December 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm

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