Slugger O'Toole

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Millward Brown Poll: Scary buns for Fine Gael?

Sat 16 February 2013, 9:32pm

Millward BrownNo polls for a while then three or four come along at once. News broke tonight of the Sunday Independent’s Millward Brown poll.. MB have done a few polls on politics for the Sindo, but the last comparative poll that I have figures for was last May…

These figures are proportions of voters after eliminating the undecided, which stands at a high figure 27%
;

Fianna Fáil 27% (17), Fine Gael 25% (36) Sinn Féin 20% (20) Labour 13% (12) Others 18.

What to say? Well, SF and Labour haven’t changed in the best part of a year. That’s more worrying for Labour than for Sinn Fein, who seem to be benefiting from every peck of churn in public opinion.

The real dynamic lies in the battle between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. The uncertainty of the voters indicated by the 27% per cent of don’t knows, is high, but there seems to be a touch of momentum. Just for fun, here’s Maynooth academic Adrian Kavanagh’s seat predictions from this latest poll result:

Fianna Fail 42; Fine Gael 51; Labour 15; Sinn Fein 26; Independents 24

Ouch for Labour. We can’t extrapolate too much, but you can see why percentages do not glide across in proportionate success. Last seats are notoriously hard to predict. Proportional representation, especially the STV version of it, creates all sorts of unpredictable kinks and biases.

Harry Magee today quotes a senior source in Fianna Fail on how they are viewing the recent rise in the polls:

“We have a long journey to go to rebuild trust. A few opinion polls do not tell us anything. We have to satisfy the electorate that we understand what went wrong and show we won’t let it happen again. In the long run the only way is to have better ideas and to be serious about them.”

Such seriousness fits well with Micheal Martin’s often cerebal style of leadership, which he’s not averse to taking to a fight when its needed

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Comments (28)

  1. Los Lobos (profile) says:

    If the will of the people dictate that FF and SF are partnered up to run the country in 2016 then that is democracy. Its not the Ireland of equals SF would wish for nor does it resemble anything close to what they killed up on two thousand people for, but hey, no one said it would be easy, right? As for FF, they deserve to get another chance don’t they? Come on, its not like they murdered anyone recently!

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  2. mollymooly (profile) says:

    Based on Kavanagh’s figures the only viable govt would be FF+FG. Which of course would be good for SF and Labour’s prospects in the following general election…unless said FF+FG govt actually managed to run the country.

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  3. Can’t see Kavanagh’s figures coming to life, the independents seem far too high.

    I also can’t see Sinn Fein getting 26, I think 20 on a good day would be a great success.

    That said bar a massive breakdown it’s still far too early to talk about Dail elections. The Locals and Europeans are a different story.

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  4. Bangordub (profile) says:

    As with all opinion polls, unless it is a referendum, it is the spread or concentration of voters that matters. It is the marginals and the turnouts and the motivations that count.

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  5. Alias (profile) says:

    The sad aspect is that the people are looking for an opposition that simply doesn’t exist. The main political parties operate a bi-partisan policy on policy matters that have been transferred to the EU, which stipulates that neither of them criticise EU rule or draw the public’s attention to policy matters that are determined by it (unless the determinations are popular). And since the EU is the de facto government, there is no opposition to it.

    It doesn’t matter that the public will vote to change the de jure government because the de facto government will remain in place as will the bi-partisan policy, so no EU policy will change via the defunct domestic democratic process.

    That is why the majority of the people voted against the Lisbon Treaty (first time around) but 97% of the political class (TDs) supported it.

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  6. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    FF will not sit in govt with FG, nor SF with FF and for the reasons that wiser counsel might have advised Labour to support government from a position of ‘leading party of the opposition’, you never play the role of someone else’s mudguard…

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  7. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    I think the FF spokesperson has it right, two poll results does not a government make but it might not be as inexplicable as some make out.
    The big news this last week has been the re-negoiation of the FF/Public sector unions Croke Park deal, 2010. Workers, including those in the business side whose employment depends on spending power of those public servants, workers see the gains made with the last government being eroded and threatened by the FG/ILP alliance, dismayed at the lack of protection afforded them by the supposedly socialist party holding up this government.
    Given the large number of public sector voters the poll result might not be too surprising as those who, having suffered (with others) the pension and health levies then the Universal Social Charge, cuts in services, increased prices in public services, fuel etc. seek to protect their future wages from the attack of those who previously criticised the approach of FF to fixing the mess that party helped create.
    Analysis showed many usual FF voters went to FG, with fewer transferring their allegiance to ILP.
    Micheal Martin, and his Dail/Seanad colleagues, seem now competent, while previously they were portrayed as floundering in a sea of chaos, a not unfair portrayal, this possibly regained trust will next be tested in the locals next year (assuming ILP remain in government and do not do a ‘Green Party’ flee to save face/seats) and following the incompetence local government is delivered by those presently in charge, it is not impossible FF will recover their long gone council seats, thereby putting themselves into a position where they can assume control of setting local charges and spending peoples money again to benefit people.
    I disagree with Chris’ point above about SF taking fewer seats than outlined in Kavanagh’s analysis. SF are doing an excellent job in opposition to increased charges and increased taxes, everyone I speak to is fed up with the reduction in money they experience since 2010, despite promises to fix this in the run up to the 2011 election ( I was told by both FG and ILP canvassers they would, in government, drop the USC, a major drop in my income) SF have in Doherty and to a lesser extent Mary-Lou, excellent and compentent spokespersons who make all the right noises, so far journalists have been slow in highlighting the fact this party support tax increases in Strabane while opposing them across the bridge in Lifford (Strabane has the highest district rate increase in the six counties this year, a council where SF outnumber all other parties combined), I think it is unlikely they will poll below the 20% in this poll.
    The big loosers in this are then ILP, as above, they now seem like the Greens in loosing support to a larger, more influential, coalition partner and to save any support might have to pull the plug before the 31st Dail runs it’s full term, I would expect a lessening in ILP support to around 9% before the end of Spring.
    Feel free to disagree!

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  8. 6crealist (profile) says:

    “Strabane has the highest district rate increase in the six counties this year, a council where SF outnumber all other parties combined”

    Pedantry alert – it’s 8-8 in Strabane. 8 Shinners versus:

    1 SDLP, 2 independent nationalists, 4 DUP and 1 twice-convicted for drink-driving Ulster Unionist.

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  9. Roy

    “I disagree with Chris’ point above about SF taking fewer seats than outlined in Kavanagh’s analysis”

    Going from the results at the last election the following seats are realistic targets

    Carlow Kilkenny, a second in Cavan Monaghan, Cork South Central, Dublin Mid West, Dublin North East, Limerick City, Waterford, Wicklow

    Where else do you have Sinn Fein taking gains?

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  10. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    6crealist, I’m afraid ‘Independents’ are, by definition not members of political parties, therefore, SF in Strabane District Council have 2 seats more than the other ‘parties’ combined.
    Here one cannot be independent nationalist nor unionist, regardless of how you appeal to the electors.

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  11. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    Chris, I think Sligo/Letrim and possibly another in Dub. S-W. Dub SC too many who voted FG and ILP I have spoken to in the last year are quite concerned at the government agenda on cuts so it has the possibility of loosing one ILP Deputy.
    I’d agree on Cavan-Monaghan gaining a second SF Deputy there is also the possibility frightened ILP backbenchers may switch sides to the socialist alternative (don’t laugh too much) if their seats are threatened.

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  12. 6crealist (profile) says:

    yeah if you say so Chris.

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  13. 6crealist

    I don’t say so, the numbers do.

    In each of the above mentioned seats they came very close to taking a seat. Considering the increase in their support that brings each of the seats into play.

    What do you find difficult to understand about this?

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  14. 6crealist (profile) says:

    Apologies Chris! I typed the wrong name – my last post was in response to Roy’s comments at 3.17pm.

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  15. Roy

    “I think Sligo/Letrim”

    Sinn Fein already have a seat there in the form of Michael Colreavy

    “possibly another in Dub. S-W.”

    They already have one in Dublin SW, Sean Crowe took a seat there

    “Dub SC too ”

    Again they already have one there as well with Aengus O Snodaigh

    I fail to see where the additional 6 seats are Roy

    “also the possibility frightened ILP backbenchers may switch sides to the socialist alternative (don’t laugh too much) if their seats are threatened.”

    Can’t see it. If their seats are under threat from a Sinn Fein candidate why would Sinn Fein not just run their own candidate and take the seat?

    There is a lot of bad blood between Sinn Fein and the LP. I’m struggling to think of any that may be a fit for Sinn Fein bar the likes of Patrick Nulty who I remember from my student days was a decent bloke.

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  16. 6crealist

    No bother

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  17. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    6crealist, I was simply pointing out the practical reality of Strabane District Council, the pertinent question is, why is this reality not highlighted?
    Of course Strabane is not the only case in point but it is the only one where the same parish attracts differing economic policy approaches from the same political party.
    Pat Kenny in questioning Pearse Doherty in the day’s before the FCT referendum did make the point on the differences in SF increasing spending and cutting services in government in the six counties while opposing cuts to services and increased taxes in the twenty six counties however, poor Pat was insufficiently versed in six county politics to meet Pearse’s response that for their rates, six county rate payers recieve ‘free’ services, which struck me as strange as you cannot pay for a free service.
    Despite this, without outlining these facts to twenty six county electors in a clear, understandable fashion, I suspect the onward march of the SF electoral appeal will be difficult to diminish.
    Mick, FF will go into power with SF if it were necessary, and SF have served their apprenticeship in coalition with sworn enemies already.

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  18. Blissett (profile) says:

    Galway West a prospect with SF having a Senator and it being a five seater. Internal FG poll indicate SF could take a seat in carlow Kilkenny. Has always been a very solid vote in Wexford, but havent been able to harness it, and party locally seem to have finally got their act together. But generally, I dont hugely disagree, The organisational weakness of the party in large parts of south means that national opinion polls wont necessarily match up in terms of seats. Outside bets might also include Dub West, Tipp (not exactly heartland, but will be competitive in any 5 seater) and Longford Westmeath

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  19. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    Chris, I know how hard Seán Crowe worked to get elected, I know the area and the feeling on the ground, from Old Bawn to Kilnamanagh and Kiltipper. It is possible SF can take another seat there, especially if their hard ground-work pays off in 2014.
    Again DSC, despite some, outside the constituency seeing O Snodaigh as a liability, within Drimnagh, Crumlin, Inchecore and the Liberties he and his effort is appreciated.
    Again, the locals will be key to all this.

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  20. Blissett

    Galway West is a slight possibility but I’m not sure what level of organisational support they would have out there. It never struck me as a hotbed of Republicanism.

    As I said above I think Kathleen would have a very real chance in Carlow Kilkenny. Wexford too looks like a possibility.

    The two things that make me believe Sinn Fein won’t get near the 26 seats (presuming an election was called tomorrow) is that they have historically done much better in opinion polls between elections but their actual vote is always below what the opinion polls had them leading with. The second part is the fact they are not organised great everywhere. In some places they don’t have any cumann’s at all. I’m sure they have carried out extensive work to correct this but knowing the Sinn Fein internal structures there will still be huge areas with no visible Sinn Fein home grown organisation.

    They are a growing party and the worst possible thing they could do is enter coalition government with FF or FG in time for the 1916 centenary.

    I know there would be huge sway from some in the party to have it so that SF was in government in both parts of the island by that date but it would be a mistake.

    They stand more chance of implementing some of their objectives by supporting a minority government in exchange for a wish list. That is if a left wing alternative isn’t on the cards and for the foreseeable future it isn’t.

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  21. Roy

    Sinn Fein will not take a second in either of those constitencies for two simple reasons.

    Sean took the 3rd seat out of a 4 seater. There is going to be a Fianna Fail challenge for a seat here next time . Aengus came in on the 5th seat in a 5 seater, sub quota. Even with a Labour meltdown there is still a Labour seat here and I suspect Fianna Fail will take one of the Labour seats.

    The second point and the most important one is that they will not risk standing more than one candidate.

    I suspect that the only constituency where they will stand a second candidate is Cavan/Maonaghan.

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  22. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    Chris, I’m only pointing out it is a possibility, and in politics anything is, so we’ll agree to disagree on it’s possibility. SF do though have the feet on the ground to determine if running a second candidate is an achievable goal.
    FF in DSW, and elsewhere need open up to fresh new faces, just what SF are doing on the ground, or the possibility of turning the polls into general election reality will be lost, Martin is a canny Cork man, it will be interesting to see his party’s candidates for 2014 locals and european elections.

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  23. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    I think Chris’s caution is right. There’s a line they will have to cross in terms of proportion to bring in a larger seat bonus. I don’t have a breakdown in where the support for them is coming demographically, but traditionally they have needed to good organisation to get reluctant DE voters to the polls.

    The good news for them is the failing of Labour, and a possible climb into more reliable middle class vote. Of course the govt’s medicine may suddenly start working… and all these calculations have to be binned…

    No, really…

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  24. Roy

    If Sinn Fein stands a second candidate in either of those two constituencies then I will donate £100 to a charity of your choice and furnish you with the receipt as proof.

    It isn’t going to happen. I will accept that they may pick up other seats that haven’t been on the radar thus far but there is next to no chance of a second in the two above constituencies.

    It is at least one election too early before talk of that. It took over 2 elections in a row of Caoimghin topping the poll with a large surplus before they considered standing a second candidate in Cavan/Monaghan.

    I know Sinn Fein’s Director of Elections and he is a very smart, rational and cautious man. It won’t be the decision of the local party as to which constituency stands a second candidate; it will be the Ard Chomhairle’s

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  25. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    ‘Of course the govt’s medicine may suddenly start working… and all these calculations have to be binned.’
    Mick
    I’d be unsure the medicine will take effect in time, yes it might slightly remedy the economic mess it inherited but I doubt any recovery will happen quickly enough to prevent homes being lost, taxes being increased, costs rising, services being, further, reduced. All the above means people, the Seán’s and Síobhan’s of Ireland having to pay more for less, not what people will vote for, just my opinion.

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  26. Roy Walsh (profile) says:

    Chris, again, we’ll agree to disagree, there’s a lot of young hopeful’s in Old Bawn and Inchecore.

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  27. Roy

    It’s political fantasy but as they old man said you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

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  28. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    @Mick,

    Actually the PR-list system, which is the dominate form around the world especially in Europe, is very predictable. Seats are given out directly as a proportion of the vote once parties having failed to make the entry barrier are eliminated. It is the PR-STV system that is hard to predict because it a sort of cross between straight PR and the first-past-the-post system. In polls voters are only giving out their first preferences, but the additional preferences have a huge effect down the line especially in constituencies with many seats as in NI.

    I think that the results demonstrate that politics is not mainly a rational logical activity but more one of identity and loyalties. This is why lapsed FF voters are so quick to return to the party that was so corrupt and that screwed up the economy in such a glorious fashion.

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