May 2022 Projections Update

Seat totals

Sinn Féin 63
Fine Gael 39
Fianna Fáil 38
Independents 8
Social Democrats 4
PBP/Solidarity 3
Labour 3
Green Party 1
Aontú 1
R2C 0

Changes since April

Sinn Féin nc
Fine Gael nc
Fianna Fáil nc
Independents nc
Social Democrats nc
PBP/Solidarity nc
Labour nc
Green Party nc
Aontú nc
R2C nc

Seat Map

So, this is a new one. For the first time since I started this project, the model does not show any seat changes month on month. However, do not mistake this for stability – there’s a fair bit going on behind the scenes. Despite the lack of a shift in the projections, the polling this month has been potentially indicative of something significant – and this goes for Red C, B&A and Ireland Thinks, all of whom publish polls this month. This was a really spectacular month for Sinn Féin, so since I have nothing else to write about, let’s look at this a bit.

Sinn Féin continue to rise

I’ve discussed at length before on here that Sinn Féin’s polling has for a while been bumping up against a bit of a cap, but that they have experienced that before and found ways to keep moving incrementally upwards after periods of relative flatling. The most recent set of polls indicates that this is happening again. Ireland Thinks have SF on 34% and Red C have them on 36% – both are the highest support level either polling company has ever recorded for SF. And for the first time ever, Red C have SF’s support higher than FF and FG’s combined; though I suspect they are underestimating FF a bit.

B&A are not much different – they also have SF on 36%, the second highest score they have ever recorded for the party. Given how all over the place polling companies look when compared to eachother, there is significance in the fact that they all agree that SF are hitting a peak.

When placed on the RPA, Sinn Féin are at exactly 34% nationally – and their average over the last five polls is marginally higher. This is the highest they have been on the RPA, ever, and represents a substantial increase on their GE 2020 performance (24.5%).

The degree to which this transcends demographics is little short of remarkable. The below chart shows the major parties’ support among age and social class demographics, using an average of the Red C and B&A polls from this month.

Leaving aside just how badly SF are trouncing the other two among the “expected” groups – 18-34s and C2DEs – the rest is quite impressive. SF are now further ahead among 35-54s than they are among those scary young folk, and SF are also winning among middle class voters. This change has been slowly building for a while now, but seeing it laid out in simple numbers is a testament to just how much things are changing. The degree to which the government parties have seen their support decline among key demographics is what’s known in political science circles as a “big oof”.

However, perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. The government has spent the last few weeks exploring a variety of new and exciting ways to upset the electorate – from the National Maternity Hospital debacle, to a mess in Dublin Airport that they are demonstrating to be incapable of fixing, to the Green Party suddenly deciding to become pro-LNG this month. Hell, they cut their own majority to one seat in order to prove some kind of insane point about how everyone but them is wrong about the NMH.

Nothing sums it up better than, when faced with continual delays to An Post’s passport service, the government didn’t try to address the problem. Instead, they simply removed the word “express” from the name of the service, prompting the now-infamous celebratory video from the hapless Emer Higgins.

Sinn Féin, on the other hand, haven’t really done anything massive. There hasn’t been any massively impactful launches or announcements in the last few weeks. Probably their most high profile thing was the confirmation that they would abstain rather than vote against, the Special Criminal Court, which of course did nothing to deter Fine Gael TDs from hysterical overreaction.

So I don’t think anything major has changed, but the steady ascent of Sinn Féin continues as people look for a viable alternative to the enduring shitshow in housing, health and cost of living. Of course, we are still far from the level of breakthrough where Sinn Féin government becomes an inevitability, but if the current crowd in power can keep this up for another couple of years, we could well end up there.

What can issue polling tell us about this?

Red C usually do a deep dive each month into one or two issues as part of their poll, and this month they very helpfully did so one of the issues where past polls have told us voters trust Sinn Féin the most – housing. The results are pretty clear – there is wide, cross party and cross society support for change, although apparently 9% of the population are lunatics who don’t want house prices to go down.

Red C asked a number of policy questions, ranging from general (should house prices go down?) to sensible (reduce deposits/increase loans if history of rent payment can be shown) to downright baffling (give landlords a tax break for not raising rents). Every single suggestion has positive support across party support, gender, geography, age and social class.

And this exemplifies the problem. None of the suggestions in the poll are particularly radical or risky. They are base level proposals that would more than likely slow house price increases rather than reverse them. But they are all more than the government has done to address the crisis. When even their own supporters are massively in favour of this, and see their representatives doing none of it, is it any wonder that so many of them are peeling off towards Sinn Féin, because at least there is a chance they will deliver change?

Eamon Ryan breaking records

Leaving Sinn Féin aside for now, the Green Party have been having a completely normal one this month, and congratulations are due to Eamon Ryan for breaking the record for the lowest net approval rating achieved by a leader of an Irish political party since at least the the 2020 General Election with a whopping minus 31%.

This, of course, beats the previous record set by Eamon Ryan in April 2022.

Jokes aside, things are continuing to be very worrying for the Greens; losing all of their seats remains very much on the cards. Ironically, Ryan is the most likely to keep his per the model, but it’s not really sure how to account for Labour leader Ivana Bacik – who still has the highest approval rating of any party leader, with the caveat that there are still a lot of people responding “no opinon”.

The Green Party’s support is down nearly 50% since the GE, which tracks with B&A’s figure of only 50% of people who voted Green in GE 2020 still approving of Ryan. He used to have reasonable approval numbers among Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael voters; this is no longer the case as his net approval among supporters of the Greens’ coalition partners stands at -19% and -15% respectively. I’m always cautious of inferring too much from leadership approval ratings, but that does not indicate anything good when it comes to transfer friendliness – indeed, Ryan has a lower net approval rating among FF voters than Mary Lou McDonald!

Other notes

  • Dublin Central: This is looking very tight between the Soc Dems and Fianna Fáil. Neither have been having a great time in Dublin of late. Sinn Féin might overperform versus the model here with McDonald, which you think would impact the SDs more than FF, but transfers from the Greens and Labour should help the former.
  • Dublin Bay South: As the Green Party’s vote continues to dip, their seat here continues to look vulnerable. The model still thinks Fine Gael should win two, with Sinn Féin holding comfortably, and then it’s between the Greens and FF for the last seat. I’m not so sure about that second FG seat; Labour could well have a chance at holding here. See prior comments on the model not really knowing what to do with by-elections.
  • Meath West: Aontú have had some good recent polling by their standards in a few locations, but Leinster is not one of them, and their sole seat looks vulnerable. For all intents and purposes, Tóibín is functionally an Independent from a polling perspective, so caution needed here as the party support is hyper-local.
  • Wexford: Similar to last month, while there are caveats here given Howlin’s personal vote, this seat looks increasingly insecure as Labour’s numbers outside of Dublin decline. While again I am hesitant to put too much stock in this, it’s worth noting that while Bacik’s approval ratings are good, Rest of Leinster is the Labour leader’s weakest province by a good chalk, which aligns broadly with the direction their polling is heading in.

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