Irish Polling Report

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Archive for February 2016

Triple Crown

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Seats not finalised, but maybe its time to look at how the different companies did in their final polls of the campaign.

As I pointed out in 2011, MRBI had been the closest in 2007-  people still rubbished them, and they went on to be the most accurate in 2011 also. And yet, still the mockers.

This time, they introduced another adjustment which I was dubious of at first, and I didn’t project their first poll on the blog as a result.  Subsequently I met their MD for a coffee and he very kindly explained the reasoning and impact of that adjustment (along with other aspects of their vision of polling), and I was impressed enough with his reasoning to go back to projecting for their polls.

Just as well! This year they were looking to be the most accurate in both the pre-election poll and Exit poll, and managed it again with aplomb.

Figures below on the last polls and the exit polls from RedC, B&A, MillwardBrown, MRBI, the DIT poll and the IPR projections, along with the 2 exit polls.

Of the pre-election polls, MRBI were the closest, being a cumulative 11.36% out over over the 9 party/Oth totals.  My estimates were second at 13.68%, RedC 3rd with 14.6%, Millward Brown 4th with 17.36%, B&A 5th with 20.6%, and DIT last (just!) with 21.04%.

In the battle of the Exits (which had much smaller margins of error due to bigger and-presumably – more accurate samples of actual voters), MRBI were also closer, being an impressive 8.04% out, compared to B&A’s decent 10.38%.

Impossible to meaningfully compare these with the 2011 figures as the smaller parties weren’t measured in those.

Anyways, the figures are below. Read ’em and weep. Etc etc.

Last B&A 30 18 16 8 3 4 4 2 15 100
Out 4.48 6.35 2.15 1.39 0.95 1.28 1 0.18 2.82 20.6
Last MRBI 28 23 15 6 5 2 4 2 15 100
Out 2.48 1.35 1.15 0.61 1.05 0.72 1 0.18 2.82 11.36
Last MBrown 27 23 19 6 5 2 4 2 12 100
Out 1.48 1.35 5.15 0.61 1.05 0.72 1 0.18 5.82 17.36
Last RedC 30 20 15 7 3 3 4 2 16 100
Out 4.48 4.35 1.15 0.39 0.95 0.28 1 0.18 1.82 14.6
IPR 30 20 15 7.5 3.3 2.5 2.9 2.5 16.3 100
Out 4.48 4.35 1.15 0.89 0.65 0.22 0.1 0.32 1.52 13.68
DIT 32 20 15 8 2 2 4 2 14 99
out 6.48 4.35 1.15 1.39 1.95 0.72 1 0.18 3.82 21.04
B&A Ex 24.8 21.1 16 7.1 4.7 3.6 3.7 2.4 16.6 100
Out 0.72 3.25 2.15 0.49 0.75 0.88 0.7 0.22 1.22 10.38
MRBI Ex 26.1 22.9 14.9 7.8 3.6 3.5 2.8 2.6 15.8 100
Out 0.58 1.45 1.05 1.19 0.35 0.78 0.2 0.42 2.02 8.04
RESULT 25.52 24.35 13.85 6.61 3.95 2.72 3 2.18 17.82 100
Poll Out
Last B&A 20.6
Last MRBI 11.36
Last MBrown 17.36
Last RedC 14.6
IPR 13.68
DIT 21.04
B&A Ex 10.38
MRBI Ex 8.04

Written by Dotski

February 29, 2016 at 6:56 pm

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Labour pains

with 2 comments

As readers will be aware, I’m a Labour voter (usually) and the Labour result is one that’s not filled me with hope.  There will be much argued about where they went right and wrong, both in Govt and the campaign, but we’ll leave that for elsewhere.

As I write, Labour have 5 seats and are in the hunt (with varying degrees of hopefulness) for 4 further seats, and it appears (slightly) odds on they won’t make 7 in the new Dáil (unless they come to some arrangement with the SocDems or e.g. Zappone).

Worth noting that this day last week,  when projecting their performance in the Sindo/Millward Brown (poll=6%, seats=5) I stated the following;

“The couple of points LP are lower compared to RedC sees them miss out on a rake of seats (indeed falling short of the 7 required to be a Dail party), suggesting there is a very big tipping point for them between 6-8%… if they are about 7% on the day (quite possible on current polling) I suspect they will be involved in a lot of dogfights.  If they fall as low as this on polling day, this could be the last time the party contests an election (at least in its current form), as consideration of a re-alignment of the centre-left would surely arise if both they and the SocDems were below that threshold.  But we’ll see.”

This is pretty much what happened, although whether you draw the same conclusions is up to you.

On the day, they have received 6.6%, and while they may yet reach 7 seats, the issue of re-alignment of the centre left will probably remain.  Interestingly, this was below the 2 exit polls, which gave 7.1% and 7.8% – those margins may not seems much, but the seat projections for them were 7 and 11, so 5-9 (tending to 6) is around what you’d expect for 6.6%.

Looking at the projections I made over this series  (since I returned in December) that were under 8%, the seats projections were as follows (remember interactions with other parties also influence);

4% – 1

6% – 5

6% – 5

6% – 7

7% – 9

7.1% – 7

7.5% – 11

7.8% – 11

So  5-7 seats at 6% (averaging 6.3), 9 seats at 7%, and 7-11 seats in the space between 7 and 8%.  Quite where 6.6% is going to land is still uncertain but currently at 5-9 (looking like 6-7), it looks like it will end at the upper end of the 6% range.

That’s all for this post, back off to look at the Dublin Bay figures – I’m had Labour at about 35% chance (AOR) and 20% (KH) last night, but want to look at them again now I’m sober…




Written by Dotski

February 28, 2016 at 11:16 am

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A lot of partial tallies out there this year, making it harder to project.  By best clal at this stage seems to show SF doing slightly better than I would have taken from the exit polls.  Based on what we’ve heard (and projected into the gaps) I’m expecting something similar to the following now;

FG 49
FF 40-41
SF 27-28
LP 8-9
SD 3-4
GP 2
Re 0-1
OTH 20-21

How d’ya like them apples…?

Written by Dotski

February 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm

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Exit stage left…

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B&A exit poll shows a slightly bigger drop for FG/LP and bigger vote for the harder left.  Most noticeable is the tipping point for LP, which I’d noted at sims around 7%, comes into play again, the 7.1% here gives 7 seats, compared to 11 seats on 7.8% (although interplay of other parties also contributes to this).  This suggests their reaching the ‘speaking rights’ threshold is far from certain.  Anyway, projections…

FG 24.8% 50
FF 21.1% 38
SF 16.0% 27
LB 7.1% 7
GP 3.6% 3
AAA/PBP 4.7% 6
SocDems 3.7% 5
Renua 2.4% 2
OTH 16.6% 20
100.0% 158

These figures, no chance of FG/LP core of Govt. Numbers there for something witgh a FF/SF/LP/SD core, but I don’t see it.  FG/FF in some shape or form again.

FWIW, Prof Mike marsh did an official projection for RTE and he has been similiar enough in the past, and is again on this occasion (difference in brackets);

FG 46 (-4), LAB 9 (+2), FF 37 (-1), SF 27 (same), SD 7 (+2), PBP 6 (same), GP 4 (+1), IA 4, R 3(+1), INDs 13, OTHERS 2.


Written by Dotski

February 27, 2016 at 9:02 am

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Exit to the Right…

with 3 comments

The Irish Times/MRBI poll came out (almost) on time, and suggests the swing to FF recorded over the course of the campaign continued.  FG are lower than in most polls, LP about average or slightly above, SF dipping in the direction the polls had indicated.  Of the minor parties, the margin of error makes it less revealing, but on these figures a good poll for the Greens, and more at the disappointing end for AAA and the SocDems. Possibly.

OK, projection here, but (get one’s excuses in early), I have half a bottle of wine in me, and so if these are on the button I get *bonus* points.

FG 26.1% 52
FF 22.9% 41
SF 14.9% 22
LB 7.8% 11
GP 3.5% 3
AAA/PBP 3.6% 4
SocDems 2.8% 4
Renua 2.6% 2
OTH 15.8% 19
100.0% 158

NB, I am assuming a fair few non-transferable votes in the later stage of the counts, a few seats (notably LP) benefit from this, and if this is over-estimated LP and to some extent FG may suffer.

On these figures its hard to see past a minority FG govt with FF support (until they pull the plug), but only after weeks of talks.  Even FG+LP+GP+SDs+Ren=72, and even that ragtag would need another 7 votes from the 19 in OTH (which seems impossible to me given the likely composition).

A FF-led Govt would be as implausible (if not, at the same time, impossible), if one ignores their ‘red-lines’. FF+SF+LP+GP+SD=81 but even if they agreed to talk to SF (who would have to agree to go in with them) FF would have to persuade LP (below 15 and licking their wounds) and Greens and SocDems to hitch their wagon to a caravan that could come unstuck very quickly.  FF+SF+LP as a ‘core’ would come to 74, and one could at a stretch imagine 5+ Indos coming on board, but that, again would be a precarious arrangement, and not one many would relish explaining in November when it fell apart.  Maybe.

So anyways, only a poll, but the Exit poll in 2011 was very close, and the final MRBI conducted a week earlier was slightly closer, so one imagines this is very close to being on the money.  B&A will however have another Exit poll tomorrow on RTE at 7am, and may have polled later into the day, which might make it more reliable.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ll try to haul my ass up early tomorrow to run the sim on the B&A poll, and I’ll be while stuck at Dotski Jnr’s GAA match for some of the morning, hopefully the wonders of smartphone tech and my trusty election-day spreadsheet will allow me make decent extrapolations from the early tallies.  In 2011, after 15 partial tallies, it predicted the final result with a total deviation of 2.6% across the 6 totals, compared to 4.5% across the Exit poll.  Harder this time, given the new constituencies and parties – a disadvantage which won’t apply if we have a second election this year, but hopefully accurate enough for any candidates tailoring their speeches at the count centre.

Stay tuned!


Written by Dotski

February 27, 2016 at 12:51 am

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Ok…last time out, predictions from most quarters (including the other blog whose method was annoying me…) were so far out it wasn’t too hard to out-predict them.

This time out I note in the last week or so projections from all sources, and predictions on Twitter are converging on what I would consider sensible (at least if you exlcude the usual headbangers). Presumably that means they have improved their methods, or I have disimproved mine.

My projections therefore look less radical, and more boring as a result.

But here they are;

FG    30%     55 seats
FF    20%      39
SF    15%      22
LP     7.5%    11
AAA  3.3%      4
SD     2.9%      5
GP     2.5%      1
REN   2.5%     2
OTH  16.3%  19

Rumours of an MRBI/ITimes exit poll tonight, and RTE will have a B&A exit poll tomorrow at 7. While MRBI have a better record, its worth noting that to get the poll out early (10:30 has been mentioned) they may have to have a very small sample of later voters which may skew the figures.

I’ll have some projection based on what comes out.

Also, as in 2011, I have a formula which I used to take the early tallies and project final result (in FPVs). Basically it takes my constituency projections, looks at the average deviation of most recent tally from that, and projects the same deviation to everywhere theres no tally.

Last time out I poated what it had after 15 partial tallies, & cumulatively it was 2.6% out for party totals, compare to 4.6% in the exit poll. This time new constituencies and parties may make that base less accurate, so it will eb intersting if it works as well this time.

Anyways, 10 o clock!


Written by Dotski

February 26, 2016 at 11:01 pm

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False Dawn?

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Well, that rumoured Millward Brown poll never surfaced, so was either a hoax or privately commissioned.  So the last poll we have is one of very uncertain quality, being surveyed by DIT Market Research students (under what supervision I have no idea) for Method seems similar to the RedC phone approach.

But given I was geed up to do one last projection, I thought I’d run it anyway! 😉

FG 32% 61
FF 20% 36
SF 15% 20
LB 8% 13
GP 2% 0
AAA/PBP 2% 2
SocDems 4% 6
Renua 2% 2
OTH 14% 18
99% 158

Overall, the poll isn’t very far out from the professional companies, but appears to have higher rating for FG and lower for AAAPBP – other than that no great deviation.  FG boost however small in vote terms, combined with a good LP showing (unlikely both would occur at the same time, given they chase many similar voters) would be enough however to put FG/LP within touching distance of Govt – indeed on these figures they could get a majority if the SocDems were interested.  However, would a new party take a risk like that so soon into their existence, particularly for a Govt that could fall soon enough, given the size of its majority.  LP would also have to be persuaded, being below 15, however, if it was almost that and they had an ally like the SocDems joining them, I suspect that could persuade them.

Anways, a school night so off to bed.  Will post my projection before polls close tomorrow, although I notice online predictions on Twitter are broadly more sensible (and consistent) than they were in 2011 (or in certain site’s projections a few months ago) and so you are unlikely to find anything surprising in them.

Enjoy the rest of #GE16 ..




Written by Dotski

February 25, 2016 at 11:53 pm

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Hang the lot of ’em…

with 5 comments

Last RedC out today, tallies with trends in other polls, if slightly different details (slight in FPVs, if not in seat outcomes).

No time to do piece on it, but projections are as follows;

FG         30% 55
FF         20% 39
SF         15% 22
LB           7%   9
GP            3%   2
AAA/PBP 3% 5
SocDems 4% 6
Renua      2% 2
OTH       16% 18

(Sorry re format, done on my phone).

Rumour of Millward Brown in tomorrow’s Indo, so that’ll be last pre vote poll.

Written by Dotski

February 23, 2016 at 11:50 am

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Sign of the Times…

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MRBI in Irish Times this morning…did this on the phone so formatting is terrible. Won’t say much as at work and busy. May add some commentary this evening if have time.

FG          28% 53
FF          23% 43
SF          15% 25
LB             6%   5
GP            2%   1
AAA/PBP 5%  6
SocDems 4% 6
Renua        2% 2
OTH         15% 17

Written by Dotski

February 22, 2016 at 11:45 am

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Trendy politics

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Just a wee post on how the polling has progressed for the parties (across the pollsters) over the campaign.. more for myself (to separate out the noise from actual trends), but thought I’d leave up here for anyone interested.  Results of polls are in chronological order (i.e. oldest first).

NB this is NOT a prediction, simply a summary of what pollsters are indicating to date.

Fine Gael

There has been 7 RedC’s since the election was called.  In those, FG has polled;


So a range of 26-31%, starting and finishing at the higher end (30%). Before the last poll however this looked like a decline from 31% (mid campaign) to 26%, so far from certain the decline has been reversed on RedC data.  But 29-30% would look likely based on this pollster.

3 B&A polls, in those FG were 31-28-30.  Again implies a small decline, followed by a recovery, and support between 29-30%.

2 Millward Brown polls, both at 27%, and the 2 MRBIs  both 28%.

Overall, a figure of around 29%. 

Fianna Fail

RedC polling as follows;


Remarkably stable (almost suspiciously so..) 18% from them and solidly so.

B&A had them 20-20-23, so are consistently giving them more, and increasing at the end.  

Millward Brown 22 & 23, MRBI 21 & 23.

So RedC have stood apart from the others to date, and the difference implied 18% vs rising slightly to 23%, would make a very big difference to them.  Seem certain to be 2nd largest party in the new Dail either way.

Sinn Fein

RedC give them;


So possibly slight decline (except for 1 blip)…if the 20 was an outlier, they have 4 ‘going’ from 17 to 16… No momentum but no real decline there, looks about 16-17 to me.

B&A gave them 16-17-15, pretty stable, suggesting a vote about 15-16.

Millward Brown 21 & 19 so maybe a slight decline, but from a higher base..MRBI gave them 19 and 15.

About 16-17% overall on those figures maybe but slipping slightly towards 15%.


RedC have given them;


Fairly stable, but suggesting they may have peaked early in the campaign..suggestive of a little over 8.

B&A gave 6, 8 and (famously) 4 … a bit erratic and you’d be slow to take anything from that series..if forced you might suspect they were about 6

Millward Brown were 6% each time, and MRBI#1 gave them 7% and 6%.  

If I had to take anything from that set of figures it would be about 7%.


Red C figures were;

2-3-2-2-2-4-4 – Implies after a steady 2%, may have increased to 4% now.

B&A gave 3% in each poll so if there was a rise it was masked or hidden by variance in the sample.

Millward Brown gave 1 and 2, so slight rise but from lower base, really though the vote itself well within the margin of error.  The MRBI gave them 2% both times.

Hard to say for sure, but any movement there is does appear to have been upwards, polls appear to be suggesting they are at about 3%.


RedC have given them;

3-3-3-4-3-2-3.  Implication is they have straightlined at 3%.  I suspect this masks a slight increase in an initial total over-stated by ex-ULA candidates some voters may have assumed would be part of this alliance – as posters go up their voters would start to move to “OTH”, and so if stable I suspect they have actually risen.

B&A have given them 3-3-5, suggesting a rise from a similar base.

Millward Brown gave them 3 & 5, again suggesting an increase from the base of 3.  MRBI gave them 4 and 5.

Overall would read this as polls indicating rising to 5% at this stage.


RedC have given them;


Slow steady increase. Particularly satisfying for them is that the increase has happened in the same context of people in 26 constituencies discovering they have no SocDem candidate, which should be a downward pressure.  would suggest a vote of at least 4%, rising to 5%, but perhaps these figures still include people who won’t have the option.

B&A gave them 1-4-3 … basically lower base but reached 3-4%… woulda thought hopeful of 4% on these figures.

MB similarly see them go from 1% to 4%, and MRBI#1 gave them 2% rising to 4%.

Around 4% at this stage, I would have thought with slight upward momentum…


RedC have given them;


Implies a little shy of 2%, which is surprising given their candidates and profile. (Edit I’ve since been told were about 2.4% in the most recent one, so upper end of that).

B&A have given them 2-2-3, which is more promising and they will be hoping these figures are more accurate.

MB gave them 1-2, and MRBI#1 1% followed by 2%.

Something between 2-3% I think if accurate.given they have far more candidates than SocDems and AAA, this will spread very thinly if accurate.


RedC totals as follows;


Strongly suggests 15-16%.  As you can see!

B&A gave them 20-15-15.

MB saw them drop from 18 to 14. MRBI was 16% and 15%.

So about 15% but falling?  Maybe, we’ll see whether MRBI concurs.


Polls to date, across the pollsters, suggesting;


Fine Gael : Overall, a figure of around 29%.

Fianna Fail : RedC have stood apart from the others to date, and the difference implied 18% vs c.23%, would make a big difference to them.  Seem certain to be 2nd largest party in the new Dail either way.

Sinn Fein: Falling to 15%.

Labour: About 7% on average but big variance overall.  They’d rather RedC counting the votes on Saturday than B&A I think.

Greens : Hard to say for sure, but any movement there is does appear to have been upwards, polls appear to be suggesting they are at about 3%.

AAAPBP : Overall I would read this as polls indicating rising to 5% at this stage.

SocDems: Around 4% at this stage, I would have thought with slight upward momentum…

Renua: 2-3%…given they have far more candidates than SocDems and AAA, this will spread very thinly if accurate.
OTH: So about 15% but falling .  

Written by Dotski

February 21, 2016 at 3:35 pm

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He who is without Sindo..

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OK, started doing this last night but after a glass or 2 of vino I found the constituency count sims a bit ‘tiring’, so put it off to today.  Will be brief…

Sindo poll today from Millward Brown, which sows big gains for FF and LP, Indos down.  We are told that “Uniquely, the poll was limited to registered voters who say they are either “certain” or “likely” to vote”, which is an odd statement as other pollsters do this or similar (RedC recently increased the certainty threshold) and so one presumes this means this is a change to the MB method, which makes movement hard to judge, i.e. is it a result of real world change or the change in method?

Projections as follows;

FG 27% 52
FF 23% 41
SF 19% 31
LB 6% 5
GP 2% 1
AAA/PBP 5% 6
SocDems 4% 6
Renua 2% 2
OTH 12% 14
100% 158

The couple of points LP are lower compared to RedC sees them miss out on a rake of seats (indeed falling short of the 7 required to be a Dail party), suggesting there is a very big tipping point for them between 6-8%… if they are about 7% on the day (quite possible on current polling) I suspect they will be involved in a lot of dogfights.  If they fall as low as this on polling day, this could be the last time the party contests an election (at least in its current form), as consideration of a re-alignment of the centre-left would surely arise if both they and the SocDems were below that threshold.  But we’ll see.

FF will be well pleased with this poll, along with B&A it suggests that they will be comfortably the 2nd largest party in the next Dail.  The dilemma will be whether to Tallaght-strategy FG, coalesce (unlikely on these figures I think), or work to pull the plug in a few months and try to be the largest party in a 2nd vote (if these figures were delivered upon this week, that would be very possible, with FG in striking distance).

OTH looks too low to me, but beyond that, not much more can say on this one.

MRBI tomorrow, given their past record this will be a big one.


Written by Dotski

February 21, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Back to life…

with one comment

Well, a lot of people excited by the B&A poll that was/wasn’t/will be, but another poll from RedC and we’re back where we started. Sorta.

Today’s poll shows LP back where they have been around in most polls (8%) – given the somewhat better performances they’ve had in the last few days they will be hopeful that the momentum is upwards.  FG are up again to 30%, which will settle a few nerves – SF continue to show a slow downward trend which, while will still keep them well ahead of LP means they won’t come close to FF in the next Dail, and the Greens up to the top end of their range to date (4%).  AAAPBP will be unhappy to see they are down to 3%, having been at 5% and ahead of LP in B&A (some claimed it was the first time a ‘socialist party’ was ahead of LP in the polls, however the marxist (and then pro-Soviet) WP led LP in a few polls in the 80s and threatened to overtake them in 1987 (they didn’t).  Also,  the WP *are* a party, unlike AAAPBP who are more in the nature of an alliance.. not quite a ‘broad/popular front’ but ..umm…anyway…

Projections as follows;

FG 30% 56
FF 18% 32
SF 16% 24
LB 8% 13
GP 4% 3
AAA/PBP 3% 4
SocDems 4% 6
Renua 2% 2
OTH 15% 18
100% 158

Interestingly, the combined improvement in both GP and SocDems would, on those figures, make a FG/LP/SD/GP coalition within touching distance of a majority if it could be cobbled together, although I suspect they’d not be able to get all to agree to it, the two smaller parties in particular would be looking at a single seat at cabinet which would be hard to sell (especially to the SocDems I suspect), and LP are mooted to be considering 15 seats a minimum before re-entering Govt…that said, if there were 2 other centre-left voices at cabinet, perhaps they might be flexible…

However if this was the outcome I’d still think FG/FF in some shape/form/arrangement, although there might be weeks of choreography before the Rainbow alternative was exhausted as an option.

Of course, just one poll, no doubt everyone will be clinging to the one that backs their party.  With, I understand, Millward Brown in the Sindo tomorrow and MRBI in the Irish Times on Monday, people will have plenty to choose from.  If they can’t find what they want among the 4 polls, they are probably in deep trouble…

So i guess I’ll see y’all here again soon…



Written by Dotski

February 20, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Trigger Happy…

with 3 comments

Those up last night will have (very briefly) seen the report of a B&A poll conducted for tomorrow’s Sunday Times.  While it was taken down very quickly and B&A have yet to comment on the matter, the Times (Saturday edition) have referred to the result and so we can assume that the figures are as contained in the leaked document.

A lot of conspiracy theories bouncing around the web on this, but having covered the reliability of B&A a while ago and talking to people who’ve used them before, I’d be more of the “cock-up” theory brigade – there is no benefit in B&A doing this as reliability is the most important thing in that business, and if a customer, in this case a Sunday newspaper, sells no papers as a result of spending a lot of money (a decent national poll will cost €5,000-€10,000), that hammers attractiveness.  Even if the poll is accurate, that’s a big minus for potential customers, and I do wonder if they expect the Sunday Times to pay them for a poll that everyone else will have read on Friday night or Saturday morning.

Anyway, the poll itself is most notable for seeing Labour support halve to 4%.  What you think of that is probably in part based on where your sympathies lie… while I’ve questioned B&A before (and the manner of the poll’s release doesn’t increase one’s faith in their competence..) it also seems unlikely to me that they could be the 4-5% out that this might be, compared with other recent polls.  So while it may be an outlier, there is a limit to how much of an outlier it could be, and I’d be surprised, therefore, not to see some downward movement in RedC later today (and I believe Millward Brown).  If there wasn’t, this would probably be the last time you see B&A polling commissioned  (save in event of the General Election coming into line with it).

Its of course also possible that it’s not an outlier, and the polls later today will be in line with it.  This would surprise me, but if I had to guess now I’d be thinking LP 8% in RedC and 6-7% in MB. Lower and B&A will be relieved. We’ll see I guess.

Other news and its also a bad poll for SF at 15% (their worst for a while, which is hard to credit in a poll that LP is down so much also and SocDems down also).  Good for FG, FF and Renua, along with AAAPBP who would surge past LP in a lot of places with this showing of 5%.  If it came to pass, we’d have a result which was similar to pre-crash Ireland, but with FG taking place of FF and SF swapping with LP (and AAAPBP taking role previously held by the WP, including the impending name-change and bitter split…), Renua playing role of the ‘rump’ PDs before they called it a day.  Govt would be almost certainly FG on their own with ‘Tallaght Strategy’ agreed with FF who would look to consolidate as 2nd party again, no way they’d play 2nd fiddle if they had over a quarter of the Dail.

Anyways, projections as follows, read ’em and weep…


FG 30% 60
FF 22% 41
SF 15% 21
LB 4% 1
GP 3% 2
AAA/PBP 5% 6
SocDems 3% 4
Renua 3% 3
OTH 15% 20
100% 158

Written by Dotski

February 20, 2016 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Double Donegal

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Following the MRBI/TG4 poll on Donegal reported on the other day, another from Tirconaill Tribune  and reported on by Highland Radio today which, while of less certain provenance, reiterates SF in danger of losing their 2nd seat,along with FG in deep trouble.

Not got too much time to comment, but this one shows SF at 31.4%, with PMcL struggling to take a seat, although only certainties are probably FF1, SF1, & most likely an Indo. Last 2 seats between Indos2, SF2, FF2 & FG who at 13.3% are struggling (17% in other poll).

One to watch I think..



Written by Dotski

February 18, 2016 at 2:43 pm

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Independents day

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Hot on the heels of today’s Kerry poll from MRBI, there’s further evidence of Indos (as distinct from smaller new parties) making headway, this time from RedC conducting a national poll for the Irish edition of the S*n.

As has been commented upon by everyone regarding every poll of the campaign, nothing much happening outside the margin of error, but is there a trend?  There was as it happens a RedC poll exactly a month ago, and the findings in this (compared to that poll) are as follows;

FG   26% (down 4%)
FF   19% (NC)
SF   17% (down 2%)
LP    9% (NC)
GP    4% (up 2%)
AAA 2% (down 1%)
SD    3% (up 2%)
Ren  2% (NC)

OTH 18% (up 3%)

Only movement outside margin of error has been a decline in FG, although OTH probably also up and GP/SDs would be pleased with movement in this direction.

Seat projections as follows;

FG 26% 49
FF 19% 32
SF 17% 28
LB 9% 15
GP 4% 3
AAA/PBP 2% 3
SocDems 3% 4
Renua 2% 1
OTH 18% 23
100% 158

FG will be concerned that their vote continues to drift to Indos, and they will hope much of this would come back in #2s.  At this level, they are vulnerable to a number of tipping points around the country.  Labour will be relieved that the apparent drift down has been reversed – it looks pretty much as if the 7-10% they are getting is a stable vote bobbing up and down the margin of error.  Greens may take hope with the 4% here but again they seem to be going up and down the 2-4% window, similarly there’s been no trend in SocDems or Renua that could be reliably identified as a trend.  Indos are up, but even then, it’s hard to say how solid that is, dependent as they are more on sentiment (which is more transitory than many of the reasons people vote the way they do) than parties with policies and records in Govt usually are.

Clearly there’s no Govt without both FG and FF here. FG/LP is 15 seats plus short – even with SocDems & Greens, they’d be looking for an unwieldy group of 8+ Indos – it wouldn’t last a budget day, IMO.  FF+SF would be even further adrift, and a ‘popular front’ of the Right to Change variety wouldn’t even come close.

In fact, even the FG/FF combo would be only 81 seats, and over the course of the Dáil would most likely rely on Indo support.

Some time to go, and some will hope that the debate last night will sway some people to their cause, but as I pointed out before, we are at a point where not much movement can be expected – some, yes, but more than 10 seats worth?  Hard to see on past evidence.

But we’ll see.






Written by Dotski

February 16, 2016 at 10:23 pm

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The West’s awake (and voting Healy-Rae…)

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Very surprising MRBI poll for TG4 today,  which, following on from last week’s surprise  showing SF losing their 2nd TD in the Donegal merger, shows an apparent collapse in the SF vote in Kerry, to the benefit of the Indos, presumably largely the Healy-Rae brothers.


Always hard to predict a new constituency, but one would have thought the merger of (effectively) 2 halves of the same county would be less surprising.  Ferris got 20.35% in the North (which contained part of Limerick county), and while there was no SF candidate in the South one would have expected some level of SF support had they run a candidate there, but the combined 7% Ferris now seems to be at (which would be fewer votes than he got in Kerry North alone last time, when SF was 10% nationally) in the county seems surprisingly low.  No real surprises with the other parties, in the IPR projection (based on the last RedC) FG came out at 27.9%, FF at 14.4%, LP at 8.3%, so the main move up is OTH/Indos, who appear to be mopping up the anti-establishment vote in the Kingdom.

On these figures, it seems impossible to see failure to elect a 2nd Indo, along with 1 FF, 1 FG and a dogfight between FG2, LP & SF.  Destination of the Indo surplus should decide whether Spring or Ferris is ahead of the other…if its Spring he may get enough from SF to be ahead of FG2 and take the final seat, if its Ferris, I would have thought while some North Kerry votes would go to him, enough would go to FG to put them over the line.  In theory a 3rd Indo is possible, but I can’t see the vote splitting kindly enough for this to happen.

This poll may be an outlier (or not) but either way it shows that, under the bonnet, there are big winners and losers that always buck the trend. They will generally cancel out (I suspect SF under-performing on the West coast means more of their swing in Dublin) however it shows that there are perhaps more seats in play that one would have thought…Spring was one of those I’d have nearly written off for Labour, but this poll shows him very much in the hunt.  But the big story is the Healy-Raes.

Bet the BBC will love that…


Edit: Further details…assuming strong Healy-Rae internal transfers they’d definately have 2 seats on this..FG vote split very well which would make them well placed to take the last seat.


Written by Dotski

February 16, 2016 at 7:19 pm

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The only bad publicity…

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RedC out today, and no great movement from the RedC for Paddy Power mid-week (although reportage ignores that poll and gives movement from the last RedC commissioned by SBP), beside an increase in SF at the expense (in net terms, anyway) of FG.  It would appear that the publicity SF have attracted in recent days has done them no damage (and may have even helped them) among those considering them for their first preference.

Votes and seat projections as follows;

FG 28% 55
FF 18% 31
SF 20% 30
LB 8% 12
GP 2% 1
AAA/PBP 3% 4
SocDems 4% 5
Renua 1% 0
OTH 16% 20
100% 158

As pointed out yesterday, the chances of significant movement (in net terms)  is increasingly unlikely at this stage, and with the outgoing coalition looking at 67 seats (and LP below the ‘magic’ 15), I can’t see it being re-elected.  13 seats would have to come from disparate interests, and while SocDems might be bidable (and they do well in this poll), they would still need another 8 from the 21 in GP/OTH. Given how unstable such a combo would be, I can’t see LP signing up to it, which leaves FG/FF the only option left.  Whether they would do this as a formal coalition or with a Tallaght II, I know no more than you do.  A ‘temporary arrangement’ for the 1916 centenary year (“in the national interest”) which allowed them co-habit before full marriage might be the outcome.



But we’ll see. Dinner to make and may have wine taken by the time the next polls are out, so may not be back until tomorrow.

Have a nice Valentine’s Eve…



Written by Dotski

February 13, 2016 at 7:17 pm

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Are we nearly there yet? (Yes, probably)…

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Some discussion online about whether much more movement is likely at this stage. While I suspect much to play out locally, these tussles may cancel out in the national picture. To test this, I had a look back at the blogpost from this date 5 years ago.

(unlike a certain other blogger, I’ve left these projections up on the same site as my current ones, it allows you judge accuracy of my method for yourself)

That post had a RedC poll (equivilant to one coming out tomorrow evening) and the figures (and my projections) were as follows;

FF: 15%    17
FG: 38%   73
LP: 20%   40
SF: 10%    11
GP: 3%       2
OTH:14%  23

The actual result, a fortnight later was

FF: 17.5%    20
FG: 36.1%   76
LP: 19.5%   37
SF: 9.9%     14
GP: 1.8%       0
OTH:15.2%  19

So some movement (esp FF/SF), OTH doing worse on vote to seats ratio, FG doing better (I recall the late Garrett FitzGerald commenting on their good fortune on RTE during the coverage on how their votes distributed), but nothing seismic…all parties within 3% of that poll, and within 3 seats of the IPR projections.

Thats not to say there weren’t ups and downs in the meantime or (more likely) significant changes in how transfers would be used (that often happens in the polling booth), however it does suggest that the national picture is unlikely to change massively between now and polling day.

For my money, that makes some sort of FG/FF arrangement about 90% likely, with the only alternative a FG/LP govt with Indo/microparty support (and that dependent on LP gaining 2-3% over next fortnight, if that gain is FG’s I suspect the former option is only one in town, if they are to avoid a grand coalition. In practice this may involve a fixed period Tallaght Strategy by FF. Alternative is an election that nobody will want.

Maybe this time it will be different, the high OTH vote may be volatile (esp in 2nd preferences), but anyone hoping for a big swing in the closing days may be set for disapointment.





Written by Dotski

February 12, 2016 at 11:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Powers to the people!

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Paddy Power have a RedC poll out this morning on RTE. Thanks to the miracle of Google Drive I’ve been able to run spreadsheet during coffee break.

LP down to 8 (are the polls ‘herding’ already?), good for AAAPBP, bad for Renua..also rounding issues mean only 98% in totals, looking forward to seeing breakdowns later.

Projections as follows (can’t insert spreadsheet tables using the phone…)

FG     30%   58
FF      18%   32
SF      17%   26
LB        8%   12
GP        2%     1
AAAP.. 4%     4
SocD… 3%     3
Ren…   1%     0
OTH  15%   22

Thats FG/LP about 10 seats short…hard to see a Govt that could pass a budget in those circumstances without a lot of ‘special development zones’ being agreed with certain TDs, and I’m not sure Govt could risk the backlash.

Also figures on preferred Gov which, ironically show movement towards FG/LP on own (now 2nd, just behind FG/LP/IND).


At work and break over so will leave analysis for another day.

Written by Dotski

February 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A lighter shade of green…

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IPSOS-MRBI poll (click here for details) out tonight for the 5-seat Donegal constituency (commissioned by TG4), and it forecasts 2FF, 1 SF, 1FG, and a dogfight for the  last seat between SF & IND.  The poll seems to have used ballots and simulated counts, and show another IND (Dessie Sheils) to be giving Pringle a run for his money.

FWIW my projections have FF about 3% lower and SF higher by about the same, FG 1-2% higher and INDs c.1% lower, so quite close, but enough to make the 2nd SF seat safe in mine, and see Pringle stay ahead of FF2.

I was always dubious of SF’s 3 candidate strategy here but thought they should still hold onto MacLochlainn’s seat – this poll shows how precarious that may be.  In an election they are expected to make a breakthrough, if an established (and popular) TD loses – revision or not -they may be struggling to make the breakthrough.

Further polls for TG4 due next Tuesday (Kerry) and a 3rd one (presumably Galway West) will follow before polling day. All 3 are interesting constituencies so it will be great to see professional polls done at constituency level for once (usually thse are little more than canvassing returns).




Written by Dotski

February 9, 2016 at 11:02 pm

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A lot of folks ask me how I arrive at the figures in this blog, and given this is a new election with a new spreadsheet, I thought I’d update the explanation.

First of all, what it isn’t.  It’s *not* a portal into the future.  It’s not even a prediction of the result of the election.  What it is, is a projection of the sort of seats outcome most likely if there was a general election result in line with an opinion poll.  Each election do a projection for each usable poll (last one pre #GE11 here) and then I use the final figures (plus some final tweaking to account for information received during the campaign) to make my final prediction.  I compared pollsters and myself with the actual outcomes and I hope you’ll agree the outcomes show my approach works (within parameters that are possible) in terms of predicting national outcomes.  This doesn’t claim it will be close everywhere as there will always be local variation, but that generally cancels out at a national level (there’s only so much luck a party can have). Last one was more accurate than the media projections (OK, not hard) and well ahead of the other main spreadsheet predictions website, an outcome which is method related, rather than me having a good nose what what happens locally (I don’t think I have, particularly, but given such knowledge tends to be restricted to what you know best, it can involve significant confirmation bias- “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing“).

Given this election follows a constituency redrawing, the first element was/is creating a ‘base vote’,  This is largely an attempt to re-construct the 2011 General Election, with the new constituencies and, perhaps more challenging, with new parties and defections (but without taking account of swings since then).   This establishes the baseline, from which the swings are measured. Obviously, this is fraught with dangers but, in practice, being a bit out here and there doesn’t make a significant impact on the method’s accuracy, at least for the larger parties and in practice not for the smaller parties (beyond the margin of error, anyway), for reasons that become apparent below.

Each poll, I enter the ratings for each party.  Fortunately, the smaller parties are getting named this time around, which makes the approach much more accurate.  There’s another blog that aggregates the smaller parties and INDs into OTH, and as a result shows them gaining a lot of seats relative to LP.  However Inds, AAA and Renua are not as coherent a block as a single party, they don’t transfer as well as running mates, and they don’t manage their vote in the first place.  The same blog has been explaining its low vote to seat ratio for LP (much lower than received in other elections with fewer votes) on the basis that there are more fringe parties to overtake them now than in 1987, but this ignores that a fractured 15% OTH vote will transfer all over the place, especially as there are all sorts of reasons voters find themselves in that column.

The spreadsheet then calculates 2 variables for each party (and OTH)  The first, used by most others doing this, is the proportionate change in each party vote.  For example, let’s take a constituency (Upper Down) where PartyA had 16% last time (more properly, its the baseline figure rather than the actual 2011 vote but we’ll call it that for simplicity), when getting 8% nationally (i.e. they got double their national average there in 2011, so it’s a stronghold).

Say that party’s national vote increased from that 8% to 20% (quite an achievement!), that variable is  2.5 (20 divided by 8).  Formula 1, applied to this value, increase PartyA’s vote in Upper Down from 16% to 40%.

However, while somewhat instructive, early generations of this calculation (originally in BASIC on an 1980s home computer) found that this over-estimated the swing in constituencies where the party was already strong, and under-estimated where it was weak.  Overall this largely tended to cancel out in net terms, but I was keen to refine it.  So I did.


The second variable calculates the proportionate change in those not voting for the party locally.  This makes real-world sense, as any increase in a party vote is – largely – the result of people leaving other candidates.  Where you already have a lot of those votes, there’s fewer to win.  Variable B in this case, is the change nationally in the non-vote for each party , i.e. from 92% (100-8), to 80% (100-20).  So the non-vote variable in each constituency for PartyA is 92% by 80%, or 0.87 (i.e. the non-vote ‘shrinks’ by 13%).  There is also a step that ensure each value is above zero (required because can go below zero, as a result of the non-vote increasing a lot and not much needed to make it above 100% locally)…in such cases it ‘increases’ the vote to zero (as you’ll note later, this slightly reduces the vote for them elsewhere).

So the previous 16% vote for PartyA in Upper Down meant a non-vote of 84%.  Apply variable2 of 87%, and that’s 73% of a non-vote there now, or  a party vote of 27%.  In other words, the swing under this formula is smaller (because the vote was already relatively high).  Conversely, where that party would have been weaker than nationally would see that swing somewhat higher (try it and see, it’s fun! Kinda. Sorta…)

The spreadsheet then applies both variable A and variable B to PartyA (and the equivalent for all parties) into the party totals in each constituency, and an average of those is produced.  In this case, PartyA in Upper Down is looking at 33.35% (average of 40% + 27%), compared to 20% nationally.


OK, so in each constituency, you have a total for each party/OTH. But the total in each constituency won’t add up to exactly 100%.  Next job is to scale each party total up or down to make the total in that constituency 100.0%.  That’s simple enough.

Next job involves calculating what the national vote totals for each party are as a result of these new totals, based on the likely voters in each constituency.  This will not be level with the numbers that were in the poll you entered (it won’t be very far off, but may be more than 2% out, so it has to be adjusted for the projection to be sound).  When the spreadsheet calculates the drift from the poll figures, it then goes through each constituency and adjusts accordingly, by the appropriate percentage.

The final amount is calculated and is the final (unhidden) column for each party in each constituency, with a blank column for the seats in each constituency.


Then it’s the count.

In a majority of seats (in some constituencies all of them), it’s obvious from the FPV what the seats are going to be (at over 90% certainty) and so I don’t do a laborious count-by-count projection.  If FG are 50% in a 3-seater, FF 25%, LP 10% and OTH 15%, that’s clearly 2 seats FG, 1 FF (more than 9 times out of 10, anyway).  But where it’s not, I use a template on another tab.  It involves me splitting the party votes among candidates in a plausible fashion, and transfers in each count on the basis I judge (yes, you can’t do this another way) is most likely.  Current I assume LP/FG will transfer about 50% to each other (and 75-80% internally while have running mate).  SF/FF transfers similar outside Dublin, lower (c.30%) in the capital).  Indos transferring about a bit but the direction depends on the politics of local Indo candidates.  Local factors I suspect will be stronger this time and so a bit more leakages across parties to stay in the county.  AAAPBP transfers about 45% to SF, 15-20% to LP and 20% OTH.  A fair few non-transferables, as most voters already seem to be looking for a reason to vote for no-one.  In practice, a lot of last seats are being won in these constituencies without reaching the quota.

This count simulation may make it clear that the last seat is pretty certain to go to a particular party (at least so you’d be 90%+ sure). However some won’t, and where it’s a close call, I (again using my judgement) apportion probability.  Where it’s literally 50/50, too close to call, each gets 0.5 and so on.  This means that if a party has a two-thirds chance in 3 constituencies, the spreadsheet only gives them 2.0 seats, and that’s more accurate.  If you have 10 constituencies where you have a 67% chance of winning, you shouldn’t win all ten of them (if you do, they probably weren’t 67%).

Spreadsheet tots all these up, and then I manually round the totals (*.5 is rounded up, unless there’s more than 158 seats as a result, in which case they round down).

And that’s it.  Of course it involves some degree of subjectivity where final seats are close, although past record suggests I manage to avoid bias (I see little point in fooling myself, and this stuff is primarily for my own interest).

So that’s it. And if you still don’t trust it… that’s fine!  I’m happy it’s worked well in the past and will do so in the future.  I just thought I’d answer the question.




Written by Dotski

February 8, 2016 at 11:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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 low 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 in polls, 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 (edit: I’ve since read that there is no such question about likelihood to vote asked in MRBI polls, which makes their past accuracy – better than those who do – even more remarkable, and calls into question how effective that test is on improving accuracy).

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