Good news is they came in third. Bad news is they only took a third of the votes of the winner. No doubt they were squeezed by the last minute rush to pick/block a winner, and they might have been better advised not stake so much faith in pushing up their percentage vote during a Presidential campaign where, as noted previously, voters are more fickle than normal.
Without revisiting too much criticism already made here on Slugger of a campaign designed and made in Belfast, this was very disappointing run from Sinn Fein. Not least because the numbers (which as Mark McGregor points out from his new home represents a real terms increase from Feb for the constituencies SF contested both times was to from 9.9% to 12.5%) where at the very lower end of the party’s recent polling rate.
There are some reasons for this. Again as previously noted Sinn Fein’s ground operation had no idea where these new voters were, so conversion rates were relatively low. Add to this the fact that they were largely digging almost exclusively in hard-to-reach independent territory and you see the problem for hard working campaigners.
That hard won increase will look fine in the history book, if the party can make further progress. The thing that did not work (and the attack on Gallagher may well have compounded this problem) is the search for Republican votes from Fianna Fail.
Martin McGuinness’s rock star status bought SF a three per cent increase. His ruthless interrogation by the southern media also reminded a generation of the party’s bloody history. Next time out, they will go fishing in Labours back yard as the coalition inevitably degrades.
That’s a much smaller pool of votes. And Labour has, in the past, proven much more robust (partly for reasons of demography, partly because of the make of the old WP genepool) in the past.
Having played their best hand against a riderless Fianna Fail horse and ailed, once again the party must withdraw northwards to lick its wounds and find a less opportunistic means of building its licence in the south
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