Runners jostle for position in the Red C #Aras11 Poll…

It looks like Michael D Higgins has lost his clear lead; suggesting he was previously drawing on large number of weak preferences (which is not necessarily a bad thing in a stand alone STV race):

Norris 21, Higgins 18 (down from 36%), McGuinness 16, Davis 13 (19%), Mitchell 13 (down from 24%), Gallagher 11 (21%), Dana 6.

There’s some secondary (weaker) evidence which suggests Norris and McGuinness will both struggle to gain transfers. But, as Tommy O’Brien on Politics.ie notes, that’s a difficult factor to discern at this stage of the game…

But the new entrants have clearly impacted the rating of those who were already in the race on the 9th September.

Mitchell is probably the biggest dropper, with Higgins’ long lead, cut in half. Tommy suggests Sean Gallagher’s prominent position within Fianna Fail has put him second from bottom (despite a well funded campaign). Indeed Gallagher’s performance may prove something of an endorsement of Micheal Martin’s decision not to put an FF dog in this race.

The one who’s lost least is Mary Davis, which suggests some resilience there. With Dana attracting very little support at this stage, Davis status as the only likely female winner may become a critical factor in where she goes from here.

New blood means people now have more choices and are shifting according to their stronger preferences. Things will move a great deal more before polling day as people pick likely winners, or seek to block those they like least.

Of the new entrants, the impact player is David Norris. Martin McGuinness, after dominating the headlines for a week, is just one point above his own party’s rate at 15%, which is solid, puts him in the mix but is not overly promising.

And that’s before the basting he’s taking in the papers today over his ‘economy with the truth’ regarding the nature and length of his career within the IRA.

However in lieu of second poll to demonstrate trend, a four percent increase (up from 11%) on the party’s last rating will no doubt please party strategists:

FG 33% (-8), Lab 16% (-3), FF 15% (-1), SF 15% (+4), Other 21% (+8)

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty