“….A lot of Fianna Fail TD are going to have a lot more time to spend with their families in Christmas 2011″ – Noel Whelan, Pat Kenny show RTE morning radio show discussing the poll result !
In the past weeks while all the poll figures pointed to serious difficulties for Fianna Fail, those long in the tooth and grey in the head on these matters took cognizance of the polls but wanted to see more before coming to any firm conclusions. To-day’s Irish Times Opinion poll provided the proof that this was not just a blimp or passing anomaly.
FF are not simply down, they are devastated. Based on these polls according to Noel Whelan, Irish Times, they could be looking at a two third of their electoral representatives wipe out ! This is no longer just a possibility, on the Times poll figures it is a probability !
While I have spend a lifetime opposing Fianna Fail, I can also feel for the ‘back room boys’ to-day involved in the strategy behind the politics, it must be absolute horror for them.
This is not the the esoteric reading of entrails stuff only for the usual political anoraks, this is clear and transparent for the average politically interested person to see. This an authoritative poll with few grey areas or much leeway for prevarication. A few things make this poll unique.
The poll shows 64 per cent of people have made up their minds how they will vote while 34 per cent may change their minds.
The election is not yet called, it could be four weeks to twelve weeks yet we have a figure of 64 % of the electorate firm in their intentions, polls seldom come more definite than that! Then there is the methodology of the poll per se……
“…. The poll was taken on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent…..”
No room here for Dublin area, West Of The Shannon factors or Lowery/ Healy Rae distortions, since all 43 constituencies were sampled. That is not to say that these things will not figure in the focused local situations, but as of now this is the overview, the big picture. These figures are based on people who have already made up their minds ! We are on fairly firm ground here.
Among decided voters, the figures for party support were: Fine Gael, 32 per cent; Labour, 21 per cent; Fianna Fáil, 19 per cent; Sinn Féin, 17 per cent; Greens, 1 per cent; and Independents/Others, 10 per cent.
On these figures also the non Labour Left, sometimes referred to as ‘The Alternative Left’ would appear to have their best opportunity to make advances in decades. As Elaine Byrne writes in an IT opinion yesterday, Prof Michael Gallagher, Trinity College Dublin, has noted in the PoliticalReform.ie blog, “…… that not only is confidence in Government low but confidence in the Opposition is not a great deal higher….. “
However Elaine also strikes a note of caution …… “ The wonderful thing, however, about the absolute assumption of predictability is how vulnerable it is to unpredictability…..”
I would go along with that. A week is a long time in politics as the saying goes. In the South we have seen hours and days following that ‘long time’ maxim and it is yet a hell of a long way to an election. Fianna Fail are seeking a floor and fighting back. However there other significant players that have not yet shown their hand, what the late and great John Healy, journalist of ‘unemployed grave dancer fame’ referred to as ‘The Permanent Government’
If Fianna Fail are shellshocked and in disarray, ‘The Permanent Government’ is not and the last thing they want or will countenance is a significant swing to the Left or the possibility of a Left Dail majority while they can do anything about it.
I have no doubt a lot of old C3 Garda Intel files are being dusted down as I write and do not be surprised to find that certain leftists had, shall we say, an interesting past and there will be more than the odd awkward question to answer. Then there are the rumors that will not go away of a new centrist party forming. It is all still to play for !
In my next blog I will have a try at reading the entrails and offer more specific comment. For now these are the figures and and a preliminary assessment make of them what you will!