Current TDs: 2 IND, 1 SF, 1 FF, 1 LAB
Projection: 2 IND, 1 SF, 1 FF, 1 FG
This one is illustrative. The model has always projected massive gains for Sinn Féin in Munster – and their polling there has been massively increased since the GE, so it makes sense – but this is the first time it has taken one of those potential seat gains away from them since last November. Admittedly this was only a seat that moved into the SF pick-up column recently, so it shouldn’t be seen as a huge shock, but it’s still notable and shows that the small movement away from SF and towards FG can have an impact in marginal races. Should the trend continue, we may see a handful more seats move this way, but right now the number of SF/FG marginals is low, so it will take a much larger trend to have a substantial impact.
This one is interesting – on current numbers we have a very tight situation for the last two seats between Mattie McGrath (IND), Fine Gael and a second Sinn Féin candidate. The model has never been particularly fond of McGrath, but the adjustments made this month do shore him up a little bit, giving him and a second SF candidate a very small edge over FG.
That said, even last time out, McGrath got less FPV than the combined Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael totals, and general polling trends indicate that SF have eaten a bunch of Independent votes – though again, how much any of those will be relevant to somewhere as idiosyncratic as Tipperary remains to be seen. Regardless, FG are in really rough shape across Munster, and this may be a harder nut to crack for SF than regional polling indicates.
Finally, worth noting that there’s a lot up in the air here still if Alan Kelly (LAB) opts not to run again – given how deeply geographically divided the constituency is, it’s hard to see that benefitting McGrath. However, by the same token, the absence of Séamus Healy (IND) is likely to work in McGrath’s favour; despite the vast political gulf between the two, McGrath got a substantial plurality of Healy’s transfers in 2020 – 42%, discounting non-transferrable votes. SF also took 33% of those transfers, which to me further indicates that Fine Gael will be up against it.
Yep, Tipperary again. A very strong showing for Independents in Munster in the Red C poll (the highest since June 2021) contributes to McGrath moving back ahead of Kelly (LAB) in what is still a close race with a lot of confounding factors that I have at this point discussed to death.
However, things might be about to get more straightfoward if Kelly decides to pack it in after being removed as Labour leader, and there’s a distinct possibility that he will be done with politics by the next election. If so, the final seat here really stops being in question.
Getting tired of saying this, but it remains true – Tipperary is very hard to model. With that said, Mattie McGrath (IND) is looking wobbly again, and the model favours Alan Kelly to edge him out by a tiny margin – looking at a 51/49 probability here. There’s a lot that isn’t clear here however; transfers will be massive, as will the former Healy vote and, of course, what local Independents decide to run or not run in the constituency.
Fine Gael are looking very ropey here as well though, and it’s plausible that both Kelly and McGrath move ahead of them in the near future.
I don’t know if the model can ever figure out Tipp. There’s too many idiosyncrasies with the geography and politics of the place, even among a nation full of them. But for now, let’s all just enjoy a nice, cool glass of alan_kelly_celebrating dot jpg because, and it might surprise you to hear that I think this, a Dáil without McGrath is a better one.
Labour’s Munster numbers are not great right now, but they’re not disastrous either and seem to be drifting back towards their 2020 performance. Weirdly, the model thinks Alan Kelly will slightly increase his FPV, but shows him losing his seat off the back of bigger improvements for FG and Independents. For this month I completely remodeled the transfers (similar to Galway West) to decouple Lowry from McGrath (INDs), and this seems to have benefitted the latter. Breaking up Séamus Healy’s (IND) vote according to transfers helped McGrath a lot as well, despite the ideological gulf between the two – geography is really important in general, but infamously so in Tipp. Overall though, that makes it one of the places where it’s even tougher than usual to be completely confident when looking at transfers.
One thing that might end up being a saving grace for Kelly is that Jackie Cahill (FF) also looks really vulnerable. He only held his seat in 2020 by less than 1,500 votes (although a crackpot three-candidate strategy certainly contributed to this) and finished behind Kelly. FF’s numbers are looking sufficiently weak that even if Cahill is the only candidate for his party, it’s now far from clear that he would beat Kelly. Keep an eye on this one because current trends indicate it could change again soon.
Tipperary is in many ways not dissimilar to Kerry when it comes to how the model perceives Independent candidates. With a polling crunch on their numbers, suddenly Mattie McGrath looks not just vulnerable, but on track to lose a seat he’s held since 2007. Before anyone gets their hopes up, however, there are a number of things that need to be considered that may be misleading the model on this one.
But before we get into that, let’s briefly discuss the other four incumbents in this heavily locally-divided constituency. Sinn Féin’s numbers in Munster are ridiculously high, so Martin Browne should have no issue being returned. Local criminal Michael Lowry will still dominate in the north of the county and should also keep his seat with relative ease. The next two – FF’s Jackie Cahill and Labour’s Alan Kelly – are less secure, but the model shows that Fine Gael will leapfrog both.
This means that the final seat will be between those two and McGrath. Currently the model sees the Independent falling behind both, but there’s something worth noting from 2020 that two other Independents got big chunks of votes in 2020.
On the other hand, one of them was ideologically the opposite of McGrath, and the other was geographically the opposite. Still, if neither run again that will mean thousands of extra votes floating around, and if McGrath can pull in enough of those, he’ll have a chance. But I wouldn’t count on it, and based on the model, I must consider McGrath to be one of the most vulnerable high-profile Independents out there.