Current TDs: 1 FG, 1 FF, 1 SF, 2 IND
Projection: 1 FG, 1 FF, 1 SF, 2 IND
Unbreaking the modelling for Galway West is probably one of the most challenging pieces of work I’ve had to do as part of this project. While it’s still quite a tough constituency to call I believe the current format is more realistic – the old model had got to point where it was showing that the SDs would top the poll at just over 19% FPV which was, to put it lightly, completely implausible.
I won’t go too deep into the changes here but ultimately it modified candidate performance in GW against the regional performance and polling, as well as splitting out the transfers to Catherine Connolly and Noel Grealish (INDs) rather than treating all Independents as identical. This had two main impacts – it revised the SD FPV downward to something more plausible, and gave better nuance to Connolly and Grealish’s performance. Ultimately this vaulted both of them ahead of the SD and a second FG candidate, but all of this remains a matter of extremely fine margins.
As flagged last month, the numbers are still worrying for Éamon Ó Cuív, as FF’s numbers across Connacht-Ulster continue to plummet. In short, there’s definitely a safe seat for SF and one for FG, but the remainder looks very close between the Independents, FF, the SDs and a second FG candidate.
Happy conference weekend to the Soc Dems, I guess. There’s a reason for this – SD support in Connacht/Ulster has gone wild since the election. Now, a movement from 1.1% to 2.9% doesn’t seem like much, but when you have a constituency where a candidate polled reasonably well, the swing is huge. This is the kind of thing that is going to get filtered out as the model gets better at constituencies, but it’s absolutely realistic for the SDs to contend for the last seat in Galway West based on their current polling, even if I think the model has their projected FPV way too high at the moment.
I would note, however, that the main block to this manifesting is Catherine Connolly – it’s very plausible that here, she scoops up a lot of what should, based on trends, be votes for other left-wing parties. GW is problematic for the modelling – honestly I think is probably where it’s having the most trouble working things out at the moment and I’d expect this to change.
Anyway, the model shows Noel Grealish losing his seat so I reckon we can all just enjoy that for now.
Galway West is an interesting one. Fine Gael should have little trouble returning two TDs, and if SF and FF are sensible and only run incumbents Mairéad Farrell and Éamon Ó Cuív, they’ll get in comfortably. If either or both decide to add running-mates, things get a lot more interesting, as will be discussed below.
However, Galway West has two high-profile Independents, from opposite ends of the political spectrum – Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly. Current polling indicates that there’s only a seat left for one of them, though there are rumours Grealish may retire. If he doesn’t, he has the edge over Connolly under the model because of the currently unitary way it considers Independent candidates (something to be worked on in future).
However, there is a wrinkle here. Firstly, Connolly’s profile has never been higher than it is now, as she has led nationally on a number of high-profile issues including the Mother & Baby homes report scandal, and served in a highly visible role as Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Secondly, FG’s polling surge is much more likely to take votes away from Grealish than Connolly, and if Connolly can stay in touch she will scoop up piles of left-wing transfers as smaller parties get eliminated. This is very much one to watch.
Polling for the SDs in Connacht-Ulster has been trending upwards, but it’s had little impact overall because they are starting from a low baseline, having only run candidates in two constituencies in 2020. Galway West is far and away the strongest of the two, and they do have a narrow path here – if SF and FF both run two candidates, and Grealish doesn’t retire, the final three seats become fairly close between Ó Cuív, Grealish, Connolly, Farrell and the Soc Dems.