Seeing what we want to see…

The prize for the widest of the mark prediction of the election must surely go to the otherwise experienced John Drennan of the Sunday Independent. Just five days prior to the election, he predicted that Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, was in danger of failing to win a seat at all and would battle it out with a pair of ‘nondescript Fianna Fail candidates’ for the last seat. Here’s part of Drennan’s piece published in the Sunday Independent on the 20th February:

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is struggling to avoid a humiliating defeat in the constituency of Louth…… sources now believe Mr Adams will be engaged in an embarrassing struggle with a pair of nondescript Fianna Fail candidates for the final seat. The Fine Gael surge had put paid to any hopes of Mr Adams topping the poll, but strong campaigns by Labour and the second Fine Gael candidate Peter Fitzpatrick have damaged the Adams brand. And local sources said the ‘transfer repellent’ status of the ‘British Baron’ means his election is far from certain.

Alas, another election campaign has ended with a post-mortem concluding that, once again, the pundits had gotten it wrong about Sinn Fein’s prospects. I have already highlighted the fact that Eoghan Harris, also of the Sunday Indo stable, has found himself owing a four figure sum to Jude Collins over his ill-considered prediction that Fianna Fail would wipe out Sinn Fein in this election.

Predicting election results is an occupational hazard for political correspondents at the best of times, but it is all the more so when personal political outlooks appear to cloud judgements.

As Jude Collins highlighted in this piece examining the contrasting reaction of certain political pundits to the performance of Gerry Adams in the immediate aftermath of the Five Leaders’ Debate, it is interesting to observe how media narratives can be constructed based largely on subjective analysis amongst the like-minded.