Current TDs: 1 FF, 1 SD, 1 IND
Projection: 1 FF, 1 SF, 1 IND
This one again! Cork South-West has been a regular feature in these projections, and with the exception of Independent Michael Collins, the final two seats are incredibly swingy. As mentioned in the past, aside from Collins, there’s probably one left-wing seat here between Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats, and another right-wing seat between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Right now, the bad numbers for Fine Gael in Munster have taken a toll and Fianna Fáil are favoured to hold Christopher O’Sullivan’s seat here, but it’s a very close thing – the sort of margin that could be decided by the strength of the Fine Gael candidate.
Elsewhere, with Sinn Féin continuing to dominate polling in Munster, the Soc Dem seat looks tougher and tougher to hold, but still is far from a lost cause. As ever, I expect the projection here to continue to move over the coming while.
Not a great month of polling for the Soc Dems and that reflects here, in what is still shaping up to be one of the tightest races in the country. There’s not a ton to add that hasn’t been said in previous updates – this last seat will swing back and forth between the SDs and SF, though FF aren’t a millon miles away it seems unlikely they can hold it without getting back out in front of FG. That’s not completely implausible on current trends, and this might only get messier as things go on.
I flagged last month that this constituency was going to bounce around, so this isn’t a great surprise. The transfer friendliness of Holly Cairns (SD) is the difference maker here. While FPV indicates that she will poll a close 5th, the transfer analysis has her overtaking SF and FF. This would result in an SF elimination, comfortably seeing her home. If Cairns isn’t able to overtake the SF candidate, her transfers would put them over the top.
On the other hand, FF’s Christopher O’Sullivan remains ahead of SF and the SDs on FPV (and ahead of SF even with transfers), but this shouldn’t matter – to keep his seat, O’Sullivan needs to beat FG; his performance against SF or the SDs is irrelevant due to how the model projects transfers will break.
With Michael Collins (IND) still looking very comfortable, it seems that behind him there will be one seat for the left and one seat for the right. The overall point here is that this should be viewed as two individual battles – SD vs SF, and FG vs FF. Whoever wins each of those brackets should take a seat.
I’ll preface this by saying this is one of the ones I’m not so sure about. Independent Michael Collins will keep his seat, that much seems certain. The other two seats however, while very clear and simple calls for the model based solely on provincial trends, feel more like a blindspot than anything. I haven’t altered the results, but I’ll discuss a bit below why I think the model might be missing something here, as the model numbers aren’t actually very interesting.
There’s a couple of things at play. With a monstrously popular Independent incumbent (seriously, Collins outpolled every other independent in 2020, including high-profile ones like Michael Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry), Cork SW has the potential to prove more resistant to provincial trends than other constituencies. The FF vote is also fairly inelastic, and the SF seat relies on their candidate getting ahead of the SD candidate and being elected by their transfers (the reverse of what happened in 2020).
There’s also the fact that FG and SF ran terrible candidates in 2020, and I’m not sure they have better replacements lined up. On the flip side, Holly Cairns and Christopher O’Sullivan are more popular than their respective parties, have been effective operators in the Dáil and have both done a solid job building national profiles (some sections of media’s weird obsessions with their personal lives aside).
So in summary, the model is quite confident in its call here, but I am not. It projects FG leapfrogging FF on FPV and SF leapfrogging the SDs on transfers; I’m not convinced either will happen. But we’ll see.