Current TDs: 1 SF, 1 FG, 1 FF, 1 PBP
Projection: 2 SF, 1 FF, 1 FG
I’m not at all surprised to see this flip back to Fine Gael this month – I had a feeling the model favouring Barry was somewhat illusory and based on a temporary confluence rather than anything substantial. Still, it’s fairly close, and FG are seriously struggling in Munster, and there’ll be a good number of scattered left-wing transfers up for grabs from lower down the ballot.
So while holding the seat here is going to be a challenge for Barry with Sinn Féin basically guaranteed on current polling to add a second, it remains within the realm of possibility, but a lot of things – particularly when it comes to transfers will need to break his way. Alternatively, if Fine Gael’s worrying trajectory in Munster continues over the next few years, that could also work for him, but I wouldn’t rely on this.
This is an odd one, and part of the reason I think how the model currently handles transfers needs to be revisited. This would be a huge result for the left – two Sinn Féin, and Mick Barry holding the Solidarity seat in the constituency. There’s an awful lot of contingencies here, mostly around how an SF vote split would pan out in reality, but also on transfers and of course whether or not ex-Fianna Fáil Independent Cllr. Ken O’Flynn runs again (the model currently assumes he will).
The key factor driving this is an increasingly problematic situation for Fine Gael in Munster. They are down over 3% (a 14.7% swing) on their 2020 result, and are way behind FF – moreso than they were in 2020. There’s also the volatility of PBP/Solidarity polling in Munster, which is very low and thus highly susceptible to wild swings based on relatively small polling movements.
What I’m ultimately getting at here is that this may well be illusory; there’s a lot of factors going into how the model is reaching this conclusion and a shift in any of them will probably flip this seat back. However, even if that is the case, Barry is right now in a more competitive position than he’s been since I started this project.
(And yes I know Mick Barry is technically Solidarity, not PBP. I’ll change the notation if the relationship between the two changes and they do not run as a joint party.)
The left in general, but especially PBP, have a major problem facing them going into the next election. SF ate most of the left’s FPV in 2020, leaving many left-wing TDs almost entirely reliant on SF surplus transfers to keep their seats. The problem here is, what happens when SF run two candidates instead of one, and that surplus transfer disappears?
This is especially relevant in an environment where PBP are polling poorly, although high profile TDs like Mick Barry may ultimately prove more resilient than the polling indicates. However, right now a second SF candidate – a no brainer move from SF – leaves him short of where he needs to be.
FG are, in theory, approaching the numbers needed to push a second candidate ahead of FF incumbent Pádraig O’Sullivan, however they haven’t managed to successfully pull off a two-candidate strategy in Cork North-Central since 1997, even in very positive polling environments. While there is a small chance of an FG gain and an FF loss, it doesn’t look particularly likely right now.