Sinn Féin 64
Fine Gael 37
Fianna Fáil 35
Social Democrats 4
Green Party 0
Changes since October
Sinn Féin nc
Fine Gael +1
Fianna Fáil nc
Social Democrats nc
Green Party -2
Three polls this month as normal service resumes. While Ireland Thinks put out another poll, as usual it contains no breakdowns, leaving us with just the big two for seat projections: B&A and RedC. Both of these polls were interesting, for reasons I’ll expand on below.
After last month’s excessively long post, I’ll try to be a bit briefer this month, but if you would prefer to skip straight to the seat changes anyway, click here.
Are Fine Gael catching Sinn Féin?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: lol, no.
Actual answer: there has been over the last few months a small upward movement for Fine Gael and a small downward one for Sinn Féin, but the gap remains substantial – over 12 points nationally on the RPA. This could of course change over the next two and a half years, but right now it’s still far to early to start making any declarations. With that said, there’s a clear trend at this point, which feels more pronounced after a year where polling has been quite stable.
As can be seen here, there is a clear trend upwards for Fine Gael, but it’s a relatively small amount, and they haven’t even got back to the position they were in before the summer, let alone one where we can call things close. So as I said last month – don’t overreact, and we will see how things evolve. Overhyping single polls is fun and easy, but only time will tell if this is going to go lead to significant changes, or if, similar to Sinn Féin’s bump at the start of the summer, it will flatten out.
Still, it is the best few months of polling Fine Gael have had in a long time, which will come as relief to them. But again, they are still a very long way behind, and celebration of some kind of comeback should be approached with the exact same caution I urged last month.
There is also another interesting factor to consider – how will Leo Varadkar moving back into the role of Taoiseach affect things? Right now he’s less popular than Mary Lou McDonald and Micheál Martin, and indeed consistently has been for a while. I don’t think there’s all that strong of a correlation on party support and leadership – for example Ivana Bacik has failed to convert strong personal approval into party support – but it will be interesting to see how this graph moves once the handover of leadership happens, and how that also impacts party support levels.
Greens withering again
No seats again this month for the Greens under the model. While this isn’t the first time the model has indicated Catherine Martin and/or Eamon Ryan losing their seats, this is the first time it has shown the party at zero overall. That this coincided with their annual convention, where Ryan said they could get 10% at the next election, is rather unfortunate.
This is a good opportunity to demonstrate nuances in seat allocation from polls, because while this is a poor month for the Greens, they’ve had worse ones before. There’s a couple of crucial factors however that convert this into zero seats. Firstly, their result in Dublin isn’t great, which they are highly dependent on. Secondly, Labour are very close to them – while this isn’t new (they’ve been ahead before!), it means more pressure specifically on Ryan. And then there’s an outisde factor – Fianna Fáil’s continuing struggles in Dublin.
This means that elimination orders change, and consequently transfers move around in a way that disfavours the Greens in both the seats they were shown holding last month; more details on that in each seat below. It’s a complicated interaction of those three things, where the stars are very much aligning to show those seats as being lost. As you can tell from this, that is quite marginal and could easily change quickly. But the flip side of this is that having your two best hopes to hold seats in such a vulnerable position is not good.
Govt doing good job?
A short note here, but an important one – a lot of recent media focus has been on Fine Gael’s poll movement in discussing government support (sorry Fianna Fáil, we all know who really runs the show). However, I think there is better news for them buried in the RedC poll – that 48% of people are happy with how the government is running things. And this is despite them getting buried on nearly every individual issue (eg climate is 30% positive, health 18% and housing just 14%).
Sure, they’d like for it to be above 50% but this a sign that for all their problems and despite the rise of SF, the government is still relatively well-considered. Similarly, while their combined seats have dropped below a majority for a while now, it’s not far off. While the individual parties are having struggles, as a combined unit, the government is overall not heading to be swept out of power on a huge wave unless something changes. That’s got to be very reassuring for a government that has spent a while spiralling and fumbling on key issues – while people definitely recognise that, they aren’t anywhere near as angry at them overall as they are on specifics.
The important caveat to this is that there are huge demographic divides on this, particularly with regard to age and geography, but also social class. I won’t rehash every detail, which can be found here, and it’s nothing surprising, but it is insightful, particularly where it offers breakdowns by issues.
Three changes this month, leading to two projected gains for Fine Gael and Labour, and two projected losses for the Greens, while Sinn Féin’s movement is a wash. Two of these are in seats where we also saw movement last month, but are not straight reversions. This is another demonstration of the volatility and potential fine margins at play in some constituencies.
Clicking on the linked name for each constituency should jump to the relevant section of this page. Changes on this page indicate changes from October 2022’s projections; changes on constituency pages indicate changes from current composition.
Note: The projections reflect, and always have reflected, most likely outcomes. So if a final seat is more likely for candidate X over Y, the model will show X winning the seat.
This does not mean the scenario where Y wins doesn’t exist, or even is necessarily unlikely (there’s a lot of marginal calls!). It also does not mean that every single “most likely” scenario will come true; statistically that in and of itself is probably not going to happen. This is true from from a simple probability point of view, even if we ignore deficiencies in underlying data. A projected result merely means that the model thinks X winning is the most likely outcome.
This one has been coming for a while I think, and it did feel like a question of when, rather than if, the model would put Ivana Bacik ahead of Eamon Ryan. And the answer was on the week of the Green Party convention. Oof.
So what changed? Well, since last month, Bacik is up a bit, Ryan is down a bit, but most importantly of all, Jim O’Callaghan (FF) is down a bit – enough to indicate to the model that Bacik will overtake him at some point during the count. And that situation is enough for the model to favour her to also overtake Ryan.
As usual there are caveats – transfers are data-deficient at the best of times, and Ryan does have a projected advantage in FPV. Furthermore, the margins of the probability here are very slim; this is far from settled by any means. But right now the model would rather be in Bacik’s position that Ryan’s, and for what it’s worth, I agree.
Another bad result under the model for the Greens on their convention week, with Catherine Martin losing her advantage in keeping her seat. I think however this may be more transient than Dublin Bay South; not only are the margins here also very fine, and transfers playing a significant role but this is a very tough spot for Sinn Féin. That goes for both FPV, which the model may be overstating, but doubly so for transfers. There’s not a lot to go on with regards to that transfer data, and I’ll be surprised if this manifests during an election on current numbers. We have been here before, and like then, I don’t expect the model will show this as an SF gain for much longer either honestly; this feels like a temporary confluence.
Still, that story I told last month about this place’s unpredictability looks pretty prescient, huh?
This one is illustrative. The model has always projected massive gains for Sinn Féin in Munster – and their polling there has been massively increased since the GE, so it makes sense – but this is the first time it has taken one of those potential seat gains away from them since last November. Admittedly this was only a seat that moved into the SF pick-up column recently, so it shouldn’t be seen as a huge shock, but it’s still notable and shows that the small movement away from SF and towards FG can have an impact in marginal races. Should the trend continue, we may see a handful more seats move this way, but right now the number of SF/FG marginals is low, so it will take a much larger trend to have a substantial impact.
- Cavan-Monaghan: Aontú got an very high result in the RedC poll in Connacht-Ulster. 7% isn’t just high for them, it’s their best score in any region ever, period. Is it an outlier? Most likely, but RedC have had them at 5 or 6% a couple of times in the past in this region. If they actually get a result in that range, they could threaten to pick up a seat in Cavan-Monaghan.
- Cork South-West: There’s been a relative improvement for the Social Democrats in Munster recently, although still below their GE2020 result. That leaves holding Holly Carins’ seat closer than before. However, as mentioned previously, this is a little hard to project given the weakness of the SDs in Munster in general, so this one is hard to assess from the available figures.
- Dublin North-West: This is one of the most obvious Fine Gael targets for gains in Dublin, and right now they aren’t far off being favoured by the model to add a seat. Keep an eye on this one, as if Fine Gael continue to see positive signs it could be one of the first to move.
- Longford-Westmeath: This is now very close with Fianna Fáil falling a bit further behind Fine Gael -not enough has moved at this point but the probability is close and this could easily move from 2FF 1FG to 2FG 1FF soon.
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