Current TDs: 1 SF, 1 FF, 1 SD
Projection: 2 SF, 1 SD
Dublin North-West features yet another change, but to a completely new configuration, joining Roscommon-Galway as one of the two constituencies where the model reckons the government won’t return a single TD. The movement up of Sinn Féin and down of Fine Gael has created a new possibility of SF returning two TDs and Social Democrat Róisín Shortall keeping her seat.
It might seem odd, but it was only in 2011 that DNW returned no government TDs, electing current incumbents Shortall and Ellis (SF) along with another Labour TD. Since then the constituency lost parts of Drumcondra, which would have been more Fine Gael-leaning than the area as a whole, so this outcome is certainly a plausible one that gets more and more likely if current polling trends in Dublin endure.
I won’t lie, I’m fairly tired of swapping Róisín Shortall (SD) around with a second SF candidate, so there’s not a lot to say here except that this month’s polling favours her. Indeed, in Dublin it’s been good for the Soc Dems and relatively disappointing for SF, so there’s probably more daylight between the two than we’ve seen at any point previous. Let’s see if that stabilises.
Last time around, the downward SD trend hadn’t really had an impact here; this time it does, once again favouring a theoretical second SF candidate over the SD’s Shortall. There’s not much to say here that hasn’t already been said about the myriad reasons that this is extremely marginal and comes down to factors the model can’t really account for very well.
It’s also worth noting that, while relatively unlikely, it’s not completely outside the realms of possibility that this constituency rolls back to the glory days of 2011 and elects zero right-wing TDs, going with two Sinn Féin and one Soc Dem, but as long as FG’s polling in Dublin remains where it is, that’s very much an outside chance.
This one is a bit interesting, as the downward SD trend over the summer isn’t reflected, largely because of the movement between other parties. It’s still really close; we’re talking an edge of fractions of a percentage in term of probability for for Róisín Shortall over a putative second SF candidate, but it’s the first time the model has had the Soc Dem co-leader keeping her seat.
I’ve discussed DNW a couple of times, but to be clear – a loss here would be devastating for the SDs. I expect they’ll overperform the modelling because of Shortall’s name recognition and the importance of the seat, but this remains potentially very interesting.
Yes, yes, I know. Róisin Shortall losing her seat looks wrong. I agree that the SDs dropping this seat looks wrong too, but I’m not going to arbitrarily adjust the model outputs based on feeling (though I will of course be working continuous to improve the model). I will explain here why the model gives this result.
Firstly, you have to consider that Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis got over 44% of FPV in 2020, and is projected to come in around the same amount next time. This is an insane number, particularly in a three-seater. It is absolutely implausible to think that he wouldn’t bring home a running mate, even if it ends up in a Cyprian Brady scenario. Hell, in 2020, Ellis’ surplus nearly Cyprian Brady’d Conor Reddy, a first-time PBP candidate who had polled less than 4% (PBP will not be anywhere close this time if SF run two).
Without Ellis’ surplus, and with SD poll numbers looking ropey, Shortall is suddenly at a disadvantage against whoever wins out between FF and FG, and currently the environment favours FG there, who would probably have held the seat in 2020 if they had had a stronger incumbent. It’s not a sure thing but right now the model favours a generic FG candidate over either Shortall or FF incumbent Paul McAuliffe. With that said, if FG run Noel Rock again, all bets are off.
Now, with that said, Shortall is high profile enough that she might buck the downward trend in SD polling, or absorb more SF transfers than expected. But right now, the numbers indicate this will be an uphill struggle for her.