March 2023 Projections Update

Seat totals

Sinn Féin 60
Fine Gael 37
Fianna Fáil 36
Independents 11
Social Democrats 5
PBP/Solidarity 5
Labour 3
Green Party 2
Aontú 1
R2C 0

Changes since February

Sinn Féin -1
Fine Gael nc
Fianna Fáil nc
Independents nc
Social Democrats nc
PBP/Solidarity +1
Labour nc
Green Party nc
Aontú nc
R2C nc

Seat Map

There were three polls in March – one the Ireland Thinks poll I discussed last month, which has no breakdowns, as well as the standard two from B&A and Red C. Overall the impact on the model is minimal – one seat changing this month – but the trend we have seen over recent months continues, with Sinn Féin continuing to slide slowly downwards. If this trend continues, we’ll likely see more changes in the projections in future, particularly in Dublin.

I’ll cover this a bit more below, but one key thing to note is that while this is happening, the government parties aren’t really benefitting from it.

A couple of brief thoughts to follow, but if you would prefer to skip straight to the seat changes, click here.

Sinn Féin still slowly dropping

This was a tough month of polling for Sinn Féin. The Ireland Thinks poll was their lowest result since September 2021, and while the B&A and Red C results were a little better overall, there’s some interesting bits in the breakdowns that are worth talking about – although the usual caveats very much apply when looking at single polls, especially when dealing with slices of the data.

The B&A poll had their second-worst result in Connacht-Ulster since October of 2021, and Red C showed their lowest result in Munster since February 2021, as well as having them just 1 point ahead of Fine Gael in Dublin. We’ve seen other polling companies show closer results, or even FG ahead in Dublin, but for Red C this is unusual. As these breakdowns can be quite swingy (although Red C are usually fairly consistent), we can’t conclude too much from this immediately, but it fits into the wider trend – see below for the seat projections for the big three parties going back to the start of this website:

This illustrates the slow bleed SF have been experiencing for the last six months, but also show that the governing parties haven’t been benefitting a huge amount – in the time since SF peaked, FG are projected to gain just an additional two seats from their decline, while FF’s projection shows them actually dropping three seats.

There’s a temptation to connect the SF decline to the polling bump the Soc Dems have had since they changed leadership, but as the above chart shows, this is more of a continuous trend with regard to their support stagnating and dropping slightly; this began long before the recent positive polls for the SDs.

Speaking of the SDs, their “surge”, while at this point substantiated across multiple polling companies, remains fairly small; we are looking at a movement of a few points – an increase of about 1.7% on their GE2020 performance. This trend is worth watching but we have seen them push up this high or even higher on the RPA in spring-summer of 2021 before dropping back down. That said, it is worth noting that they are polling better than ever in Munster – 8% per Red C is their best poll ever there – perhaps attributable to to Cairns (or “Kearns” as the mad lads over at B&A seem to think she’s called).

The Government is unbothered. Moisturised. Happy. In its lane. Focused. Flourishing.

In some non-polling events, for whatever it’s worth, I am now more convinced than ever that this government will see out a full term. I’ve always been open that I thought this would be the case, but after surviving the end of the eviction ban (more on this below) and yet another no confidence vote, it’s clear that they aren’t going anywhere, and will be able to rely on enough Independents to support them when the going gets tough that they’re not in any serious danger.

Short of something truly monumental happening, it’s hard to see how this government is toppled, despite its narrow majority. There are over 11,000 people homeless, housing and rents are both unaffordable and unavailable, the economy has crunched to a halt, with mass layoffs ravaging the tech sector (which the government have hung their economic hats on), and a new Fianna Fáil TD is caught up in a planning corruption scandal every week (Cathal Crowe and Niall Collins the most recent), but none of this matters until a majority in parliament turn on them.

Considering that somewhere around 44% of the country, by my RPA calculation, still intends to vote for them, there’s no massive pressure there either. A lot of people don’t want to hear this – hell, I don’t want to either – but while they are struggling on many fronts, right now there’s no incentive for them to call an election, and nothing right now that’s going to force their hand either.

By the way, last week I did say that nobody in the Green Party would have the guts to vote against the government on evictions; I was wrong, as one TD did, who was subsequently kicked out of the party for what feels like the 400th time but I think is actually only the 2nd. But they voted confidence in the government afterwards, so I wasn’t far off.

If only you knew how bad things really are

Oh if you thought that was fun, let’s talk about Red C’s polling on the aforementioned end of the eviction ban. I’ve been critical of some of their questions and methodology recently, but this was a pretty straightforward question of “Do you support or oppose the government’s decision to end the eviction ban of tenants?” and, ohh boy.

While a plurality (46%) opposed the ending of the ban, 36% supported it. That’s more people than support any one political party. That’s more people than the entire pro-life movement, with it’s death grip on media and infinite money, could muster in 2018. More than one third of the population. And here’s the killer part – that support is fairly evenly distributed across all demographics – even 33% of under 34s and 30% of C2DEs support ending the ban. Hell, even 23% of Sinn Féin voters supported ending the ban, despite the party’s loud opposition on the issue.

There was a hope among many outside of government, particularly on the left, that this would be a killer issue that would be desperately unpopular because, well, it’s going to have extremely negative outcomes for a lot of people. While things may change once evictions kick in, that doesn’t appear to be the case right now. And to make things worse, more people (50%) support tax breaks for landlords than support a ban on evictions.

Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why SF, who have in popular perception been the party to beat when it comes to housing, appear to be hitting a limit in how far they can push this. While polling shows deep dissatisfaction in the abstract with the housing crisis, when we see results like this on specific issues, it raises the question as to why so many people don’t want to see actually effective change in the area.

Seat Changes

This month there is just one change – in Dublin West, where the model has again decided that PBP are more likely to take the final seat than SF.

Clicking on the linked name for each constituency should jump to the relevant section of this page. Changes on this page indicate changes from February 2023’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.

PBP +1

SF -1

This one has bounced back and forth a few times over the last year or so, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that with Sinn Féin’s numbers dropping, the model isn’t favouring them here anymore. It’s, naturally, still very close and there are a bunch of vote management scenarios under which SF can win a second seat here, but based on the historical data we have, PBP are favoured to make the pick up here now.

This remains an interesting constituency for exactly that reason – not because of the inherent closeness apparent in the modelling, but because the ability of vote management to change the scenario here. In isolation, one could very easily consider both SF and FG are better positioned to add a second seat than PBP are to gain one, but we don’t have data to support that they can manage the vote that precisely. Nor, honestly, is there an indication that either have strong enough second candidates to make that process particularly easy.

Other notes

  • Cork North West: With the SDs flying in Munster, they suddenly look competitive here. I may need to look at this constituency again as, without an SF candidate in 2020 to work with, the results are kind of bodged together with even more assumptions than normal – and it’s probably fair to assume an SF candidate would impact the SDs more than any other party. I’ll keep an eye on that and see if it needs a unique formula, like I use for Galway West and Tipperary.
  • Dublin Bay North: It’s been a while since we mentioned DBN, but with the SDs polling strongly in Dublin, and FF and SF not looking so hot, this is a prime candidate to change soon if we see next month’s polls reflect similar change.
  • Limerick City: Another one that is now looking promising for the SDs. I assume Cllr Elisa O’Donovan would be the candidate, and as local councillors go, she’s fairly high-profile. It’s still more likely than not that SF take the Green seat, and it’s hard to see here without an FF or FG TD. But you never know, and if this becomes a 5 seater in future, it’s even more wide open for them. Also, Brian Leddin losing his seat to O’Donovan would, I suspect, be extremely cathartic for a lot of women in politics.
  • Waterford: I think the model consistently overestimates SF here, but even with that in mind, this is the closest it has shown SF to not winning a third seat. Right now the only reason it hasn’t changed is a function of FG weakness rather than SF strength, it wouldn’t take much to change this at this point.

Also, as this post is published on Trans Day of Visibility I should say this:

Once again, trans people are under attack, this time from Fine Gael. Leo Varadkar kicked this off by agreeing with some gabhal from Gript, and now we have reports of their TDs being bombarded with emails from bigots – and sympathising with their content. The veracity of these reports is unproven, but sadly the reaction is very evident. I reckon all the emails are from Charlie Flanagan, but anyway.

Transphobes, both from here and from abroad, have been pushing for a while now to turn Ireland into their latest battleground, and it’s awful to see it embraced by the political mainstream. Trans people have done nothing to provoke this; this is merely a reaction to their existence by those who want them to cease to do so.

Keep them in your mind, show genuine solidarity, fight for them in the way they want you to, and exercise good allyship. Once again I will be giving any donations made at the links below this month, plus at least a matching amount, to TENI.

Thanks so much for reading! This website is done entirely in my spare time and run without ads, so if you want to donate, please do so via Patreon or Ko-Fi – any support is greatly appreciated and 100% of any donations received are invested into the costs of running and improving the site.

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