#Aras11 Round Up: The Long and Short Game Edition…

Okay, lots of analysis to catch up on…

Stephen Collins in the Irish Times, notes the difference between revelation and smears, and the doomed bid by Fine Gael hopeful Gay Mitchell…

By focusing on McGuinness’s past, Mitchell helped to ensure the public knows as much as possible about the Sinn Féin candidate. McGuinness’s calm response to the charges against him may have impressed people, but one way or another the controversy has ensured voters won’t go to the polls in ignorance of an important part of his record.

Mitchell deserves credit for doing his job without fear of the consequences. All of the other candidates took the easy option and said nothing to challenge McGuinness. It may have been the clever thing to do, but it tells us something about all of them.

Dan says the party took its eye off the ball just after the general election, and has failed to get its (generally quite unmanageable) troops lined up behind one man

…it has to be asked how can someone from the largest political organisation in the state be doing so poorly. And that comes down to the real mistake the party made, it was not in who it choose but how it went about making that choice. There was plenty of time and nothing to prevent a consultation process with the membership up and down the country. Yet nothing happened for months after the general election despite we all being aware that the Presidential election would be happening in the autumn.

Indeed. As if to prove the point, prominent online FGer Spiller is out working for Mary Davis

Stop whingeing and get back in the game, says the Examiner

It may be that candidature for any high office opens a person to a discomfiting degree of scrutiny — as Dana has alleged about her American citizenship, as Martin McGuinness has claimed about his IRA past, as Mary Davis has suggested about her time as a building society director and as David Norris has said about the fact that he enjoyed a Trinity College disability payment for over a decade while holding a seat in the Senate — but that is how it works.

Our political system is at a very low ebb. Our economic independence has been sacrificed but unless individuals of energy and imagination become active in politics it cannot be too long before we have our own Sarah Palin and our own Tea Party. And you thought things couldn’t get any worse.

Fintan O’Toole reckons the race for the Aras is a case of the bland leading the bland

Jason, possibly a little previously, believes Sinn Fein’s good showing the polls opens up a new set of strategic  difficulties:

Sinn Fein needs to start thinking (and talking) about coalition partners, and that opens up a huge challenge for Sinn Fein. Coalition means compromise, and Sinn Fein voters are most likely going to be those who feel betrayed when the party can’t deliver its more extravagant promises. And, let us not forget that this isn’t Northern Ireland. Disaffected Sinn Fein voters will have elsewhere to go, such as to the United Left.

World by Storm has some clippings from an interview with Gay Mitchell (temperamentally a better analyst than a candidate perhaps), with his thoughts on the campaign so far:

‘With all the speculation – Gay Byrne, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Mr Norris gone out and coming back, McGuinness – all of the media attention has been on that. So, when you knock on doors to do a poll the names that comes to mind are those names. I think what will happen now is people will go out and knock on doors, and we have the organisation throughout the country.’

Noel Whelan on the battle at the top… and the battle facing Sean Gallagher in catching Michael D Higgins:

…with nothing left to lose, many Fine Gael politicians will feel unleashed to take swipes at the other candidates. They have form when it comes to dirty tricks in presidential elections. One can already hear murmurs from some Fine Gael quarters about what they call Gallagher’s “vulnerabilities”.

One of the reasons why Gallagher is likely to rise even higher in the polls is because his current share of the Fianna Fáil vote is so surprisingly low. Michael D Higgins is currently attracting almost as many Fianna Fáil votes as Gallagher. Now that he has emerged as the leading non-government candidate, Gallagher’s share of the Fianna Fáil vote is likely to rise dramatically.

Notwithstanding the fact that both Ryan Tubridy and Vincent Browne quizzed Gallagher strongly about his Fianna Fáil past, he is still by far the most attractive candidate to those who describe themselves as Independent and has even managed to attract between one-fifth and a quarter of all Fine Gael voters.

Agus tá spléachadh le fail ar snáithe smaointe isteach le páirtí Shinn Féin ón Nuacht 24:

Tá sé soiléir go bhfuil Sinn Féin ag tabhairt dúshláin ar bhonn dáiríre anois d’Fhianna Fáil do tacaithe sna bailte móra agus sna ceantair traidisiúnta Poblachtacha. Agus go bhfuil Sinn Féin i ngeariomaíocht le Páirtí an Lucht Oibre do votóirí na heite chlé go háirithe.

Ach ní léir cé chomh buan is a bheidh an borradh atá faoi láthair faoi Shinn Féin. Agus is maith mar a thuigeann Sinn Féin sin. Dar le lucht straitéise s’acu nach bhfuil sé as an cheist go mbainfeadh Martin Mc Guinness toghchán na hUachtaránachta ach tá siad sin cheana féin ag iarraidh a bheith cinnte de go rachaidh an dul chun cinn atá ag titim amach anois chun tairbhe an pháirtí sa chéad olltoghchán eile.

And James Downey is not happy:

Sinn Fein is well on the way to replacing Fianna Fail, in the Dail and in the country. The presidential election is a step on that way: a statement and a warning.

Martin McGuinness doesn’t have to win. He doesn’t have to beat Fianna Fail, because there is no Fianna Fail to beat. He only needs to do tolerably well. In a sense, he has won already. And that scares me.

Heads down and eyes in for tomorrow’s Sunday Independent, whose pundits have backed first Norris and then Mitchell in their Anyone but Sinn Fein’s #Aras11 Kitchen Sink campaign… This may tell us something about the current status of the long game.

The question in the short game is much more bland simpler.  Can Higgins retain his slender but significant lead over all the rest?

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