Dublin Bay North

Profile

Province: Dublin

Seats: 5

Current TDs: 1 FF, 1 SF, 1 FG, 1 LAB, 1 SD

Projection: 1 FF, 2 SF, 1 FG, 1 SD

Gains

SF +1

Losses

LAB -1

Analysis

November 2021

Dublin Bay North features again, for the third month in a row, and I’ve honestly decided that it has now surpassed Cork South-West as the most chaotic constituency in the country (electorally of course – both are perfectly lovely places otherwise).

Sinn Féin are now favoured to get that final seat back, with Labour’s numbers in Dublin dropping off a bit this month. The Social Democrat and Fianna Fáil seats look a little safer with decent polling in Dublin for both this month, but there’s still no clear daylight on the final three seats and this is going to keep moving for a while.

While their current polling continues to decline, a second Fine Gael candidate also remains a potential lurking threat, though the constituency dynamics and those polling numbers mean it’s an extremely long shot.

October 2021

This is another constituency that is extremely close, so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a change in the projection here. What is, perhaps, surprising is what that change is – this is the first time since these projections began that the model has shown Sinn Féin not winning a second seat in the constituency. I certainly didn’t expect this, but with another stagnant-to-declining month for Sinn Féin in Dublin, the prospect is now very much on the cards.

This latest movement would, of course, mean no change in the constituency’s current representation; given how hyper-competitive this area is, that itself might be something of a surprise. While Richard Bruton (FG) and Denise Mitchell (SF) look untouchable right now, the remaining three seats are, as always, an extremely close, messy contest between the incumbents from Fianna Fáil, Labour, the Social Democrats and a putative second SF candidate.

It is worth noting that Mitchell’s result in 2020 was incredibly impressive and ran very far ahead of even the positive SF swing in Dublin. So it is not implausible that she overperforms the trend here again and SF do win that second seat, even if the model doesn’t think it to be the most likely result.

One potential other spanner in the works with FG’s continual lead in Dublin: if they nail their candidate strategy and manage their vote split well – something they failed at hilariously in Dublin Bay North in both 2016 and 2020 – their second candidate could end up being more competitive than expected.

September 2021

Dublin Bay North continues to be an extremely volatile constituency, with two of the five seats seeing permanently up for grabs, and a new permutation arising with every new set of polls. The question remains as to which of Fianna Fáil, Labour or the Soc Dems will lose their seat to a second Sinn Féin candidate, and if Fine Gael can knock off a second one of them.

With Labour improving in the polls, and the Soc Dems dropping off after a surge earlier in the year, Cian O’Callaghan now looks the most vulnerable. Fine Gael’s theoretical second candidate is still very much in the mix, and will come down to if they can find someone strong enough to attract a decent FPV without weakening Bruton too much. With good vote management, it’s quite possible. If they do, that projected Labour hold starts to look even more tenuous than it already is.

June 2021

FF’s little bounce over the last few months finally reflects here; at the start of the year Seán Haughey looked to be a bit of a lost cause but now he’s slid back up and is looking like he’ll be fairly comfortable in this electorally chaotic constituency. It’s not a sure bet by any means – Labour and a second Fine Gael candidate will be hot on his heels, and the SDs are also looking a bit less comfortable than before. Every time I think I’ve figured DBN out, it changes, so this can very much be classified along with Cork South West as one that’s gonna swing back and forth constantly.

April 2021

As mentioned above, I have some doubts about this one, so it may change in the near future, but let’s look at what we have. Cian O’Callaghan (SD) is still likely to poll behind Labour and FF, and overtake both on transfers. The big movement is due to the correction to swing made for Fine Gael, who are now in a position that Richard Bruton is likely to have a very substantial surplus.

This should be enough to drag even a weak second FG candidate over the line – and I don’t think FG could lumber him with a weaker running mate than they did last time out. That said, we are still looking at a very close race between the SDs, the second FG candidate, Labour and FF for the last two seats. I wouldn’t rule any of them out at this point. DBN continues to be a volatile constituency and I imagine it will be featuring regularly in these updates for the foreseeable future.

February 2021

This one is relatively close. Prior modelling indicated that Richard Bruton was well-positioned to bring in a running-mate, and while that may still be the case, there’s an indication that it will be much tougher than previously expected – January numbers had FG cruising to a second seat . On current numbers, it would require a level of management of the vote split that, based on past efforts in DBN, it’s not clear that FG are capable of pulling off.

The polling is good for Soc Dem incumbent Cian O’Callaghan, who previously was looking unlikely to beat FF’s Seán Haughey into sixth place, let alone hold his seat. The outlook this month is a lot more rosy; while he still trails Haughey and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin on FPV, the model indicates he would overhaul both on transfers. However, of course, there is a major caveat here – transfers are much harder to predict. So while the model leans SD here, it’s no sure thing. I expect the final seats here to swing back and forth between O’Callaghan, Ó Ríordáin, Haughey and a theoretical second FG candidate, unless there is a decisive shift in polling.

January 2021

Let’s get one thing out of the way – DBN is a goddamn mess, represented by a rainbow of parties after SF blew everyone else away, more than quadrupling their FPV from 2016, while only running one candidate. Denise Mitchell will comfortably be able to bring in a running-mate here, but SF’s vote in Dublin currently feels maxed out – it’s a question of running the right number of candidates rather than increasing their vote share.

Richard Bruton of FG will cruise to re-election, and in all likelihood will bring home a running-mate, providing FG can be bothered to couple him with someone who is marginally less of a liability than random-slur-generator Catherine Noone.

The final seat is going to be tight between FF, Labour and the SDs, but an increase in FG FPV stands to benefit Labour on transfers, and thus the model favours Aodhán Ó Ríordáin to edge it, although either of the other two are possible.

There is an outside chance at the moment of either FF or, less likely, the SDs holding on and preventing a FG seat, but this relies entirely on FG running a catastrophically unpopular second candidate again, which seems unlikely. It’s also worth noting that in this scenario, if FF outsmart themselves and run two candidates again, Cian O’Callaghan becomes favoured to sneak it over Seán Haughey. But again, this is wholly contingent on a theoretical unforced error from FG.

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