Irish Polling Report

A place to discuss Irish opinion polls

What’s another year?

with 5 comments

Hi folks,

I’ve only had time now to get back to Sunday’s RedC poll, with various family and work festivity related activities. I’ll do a quick run over of it here, and over the Xmas I’m re-vamping the spreadsheet, mainly to have it produce a template “constituency-by-constituency” report, which will mean I can produce the round-up profiles much quicker, and they’ll have more details to hand (e.g. 2007 result, 2011 candidates etc).

In keeping with the general speculation about how firm the figures for each party might be (notably LP but latterly SF) the latest RedC offering has tried to start measuring this further, and publishes a bit more data for us to ponder over.

In addition to asking for first preferences, the poll asked respondents how likely they were to give a vote (of any preference, apparently) to the various parties. “Definitely will” was the response of 9% for FF, 19% FG, 16% LP, 10% SF and 4% GP. Adding “Most likely” and “Probably will” swelled these figures to 27% (FF), 61% (FG), 59% (LP), 30% (SF), and 23% (GP). Of the “Definitely won’t” figures, FF top the poll with 60%, compared to SF (59%), GP (55%), FG (24%) and LP (22%).

These figures are obviously less helpful without the same question being asked re first preferences. Given LP are within the margin of error of FG in all these, but 11% behind them in first preferences, it suggests that they are doing much better on transfers, which would be expected, given Gilmore’s consistently high percentage as choice of Taoiseach (further borne out by RedC for Paddy Power in a story broken by Dave in here) at 45% compared to 24% Kenny and 11% Cowen, and the remaining vote is apparently more solid;

Labour has also seen a decline in their fortunes over the past month, with their share falling back to 23%. However, the support they are left with now does appear to be a lot more loyal. Our analysis in October suggested the Labour vote was perhaps the flakiest of all parties at that time; but having lost some of that “flaky” vote to other parties, those they are left with appear to be much more loyal. The party also has the lowest level of outright rejection among the electorate than any other party, and as such do still have an opportunity to win over more voters.

Perhaps surprisingly, given how well I believe Noonan has been doing, FG’s margin of error increase is despite, rather than because of perceptions about their economic competence. Again from the report;

The only results that Fine Gael will not be as happy with from this poll, is that the electorate are still not convinced on their ability to handle the economy. Just over 1 in 4 (26%) do have confidence in the party, and only just over half (51%) of their own supporters. A further concern is that more voters have confidence in Labour to handle the economy (29%), and only 1 in 10 of their supporters does not have confidence in them, with others unsure.

Of equal concern to them must be their inability to increase their vote in RedC polls outside the margin of error, regardless of how everyone else is losing support. They polled 35% in a RedC poll in November 2008, and in the series of more than 20 RedC polls since then, they have always been 30-35%, except for November ’09 when they hit 36%, and are currently at 34%. Over that period, FF have slid from 30% to 17%, without any net improvement for the main opposition party, and the current decline in the LP FPV rating appears to be all going to SF or ULA, with little likelihood of it ever going to FG. The “soft” LP vote appears, therefore, to be to it’s left, with little interest in movement to FG or FF among declared LP voters, even when they are going down in the polls.

RedC’s official report makes no mention of the regional breakdown, but one FG staff member posting on has made much of them being well ahead of LP in Dublin among the 300 respondents living there, while ignoring the corollary that a much larger sample of non-Dublin shows LP increasing their vote outside the capital! Given the small size of those samples, the fact that regional sub-samples aren’t necessarily representative of social class etc in the way that the national sample has to be, and the fact that the two sub-samples contradict each other, as does a poll conducted the same week by MRBI, I think no-one seriously believes that you can assume anything from this. Including that FG staffer.

On SF, the report states, somewhat amusingly, that “The party also has the most loyal support, with 61% claiming they will definitely vote for this party, whatever happens between now and the election.”. Given 55% say they definitely won’t even give them a preference, that appears to be a misstatement…

The figure they give in the tables a definitely giving them a vote is a more reasonable 10%, and so it appears that this figure was how many of their own first preference voters would definitely vote SF somewhere on the ballot paper (a somewhat different statistic!). However, the “definitely vote” figure includes the second preferences of other parties, and so the figure is more than a bit meaningless, unless there is further data that they’ve chosen not to release into the wild just yet.

FF see a small recovery from the 13% in the RedC/Sun to 17%, but it’s still not great reading for them. Cowen in particular will be depressed to see he is 4th choice for FF leader at 7%, behind Lenihan, Martin and Hanafin. I can see a lot of tough talking going on over the Christmas break, although there appears to be a move away from Lenihan among FF TDs, and I understand that Martin’s people want to wait until after the election.

In terms of the left (I include LP, SF, GP and 50% the OTH figure for this) the poll confirms a general trend in this direction that will no doubt annoy the proprietor of ‘Independent’ Newspapers in particular. LP were between 15-20% for all RedC polls from March ’09 to March ’10, but in April of this year their RedC/SBP rating suddenly started to catch up with MRBI. Since that poll, they have recorded 24-22-27-23-27-27-23, which for all the talk of peaks and troughs shows surprisingly little movement, with all seven scores within the margin of error of the 25% average.

However, if you take the total left vote in those seven polls it has been stable enough for the first four (Apr-Sept 2010) but now has had a surge (largely in the SF column, but only in part at the expense of LP) at 40 – 41.5 – 40 – 40.5 – 45 – 45 – 44. Now, SF may hold on to that newer vote (personally I suspect they’ll hold about half of it in a GE, putting them around 12% or so on the day), but if they don’t it would appear unlikely that it’ll go to FG, with LP and OTH being, in my view, the likeliest destinations, given the trends to date, and the obvious political distance between SF and FG. There is, however, a chance that some of it will return to FF where it was originally from (although that looks less likely by the month).

Anyway, that’s it, and this should be my last blog entry of the year (unless another poll comes out). To summarise the year in terms of RedC, there was no December ’09 poll, but one in January, which gave us figures of FF 27%, FG 34%, LP 17%, SF 8%, GP 5% and OTH 9%. We finish the year with FF down 10%, FG unchanged, LP up 6%, SF up 6%, GP down 3% and OTH up 1%. So that’s the Govt down 13%, LP and SF up 6% each, and another 1% in the OTH column.

Merry Christmas to all of you and yours,


Written by Dotski

December 23, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. […] […]

  2. Several points are worth making…
    Labour going into coalition with the Hard Left and die-hard republicans is unlikely. This opinion is shared by most political analysists. Eamon even said himself, as did bruton.
    The combined per centage figures you give would be important if they were one party but because they are not it doesn’t matter. In the last general election SF received just under 7% of the vote which translated to 2.4% of the seats. Put this on the big scale and see the level of seats the Lefties get.
    Lest we forget that the majority of Labour transfers will go to FG. This was shown by your most trusted SBP Red C polling data.
    FF supporters are likely to be higher than polls show as some supporters don’t want to admit support for them.
    Your left wing plan is unrealistic. The level of spin and twisting of statistics is somewhat impressive. The degree of importances someone places on who they wish to be Taoiseach is minimal. The fact that FG are leading by about 12% and the other parties are all very close. This will benefit FG.
    It is worth making a point that your article is not critical, it is biased and sololy based on idealogy. You fail explore more than your wants for our country.


    January 3, 2011 at 2:20 am

    • Hi PB,

      The problem with making a comment on an internet board in the early hours of the morning is that you don’t always make as much sense as you’d like, eh? 😉

      While I agree that the prospect of a left-alliance govt is unlikely, that doesn’t mean that a marked drift to the left in terms of the electorate “doesn’t matter” (although I can see you’d wish it didn’t). It does, as all polls show volatility in voters’ first preference choices, and it is therefore pretty pertinent as to where those wavering voters lie on the political spectrum. If they are wavering between LP and SF/ULA, rather than between LP and FG, this has markedly different implications for how a GE might pan out, partiucarly when the choice of Taoiseach is between Kenny and Gilmore.

      Also, the seats to votes ratio of parties tends to climb as FPVs rise, and so SFs relative performance on a lower share of the vote isn’t a reliable guide of how a much higher share of the vote would translate (hence the spreadsheet) – check out the marked drop in FG’s ratio in 2002 when there was a sharp drop in their FPV. Also, there is significant evidence that SF will do better on transfers this time than on previous occasions, both polling and from the Donegal by-election, where they got more transfers from LP than FG did.

      As for putting this “on the big scale and see the level of seats the Lefties get” – well the last 2 elections saw LP get about 12% of the seats with 10% of the vote, and polling evidence suggests that LP are doing much better on transfers now than then, so I’m not sure you’ve thought that point through…

      My projections do have more LP transfers going to FG nationally, so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here by stating that – perhaps you could elaborate.

      As for my “left wing plan” – what is this exactly? I don’t lay out any such plan, I just point out what a relatively uniform swing in the polls would produce, something which appears to be causing you some distress. Again, if you would like to elaborate, I’m sure we’d all be interested!

      As for me “twisting and spinning” – well I’m afraid that you’re the one making up stats, not me. Not one of the last 12 national polls (for any polling company) has shown FG 12% ahead of LP, and none of the last 6 have shown FF within 6% of LP. Not even a single outlyer (and there’s always one every 3-4 polls). Indeed, average FG lead over LP in FPVs the last 12 national polls is 4%, and the excluded voters (where RedC judge them unlikely to vote) show LP even closer. now maybe that will change, but if you feel a need to make up stats to support your argument, you should probably reconsider whether you can make the above accusations without looking a bit foolish.

      You may want to check out the figures at ahead of your next contribution, btw!


      January 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm

  3. […] but even they must be wondering what they have to do to pull out of the 30-35% range. As I noted last month, They polled 35% in a RedC poll in November 2008, and in the series of more than 20 RedC polls […]

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