[Corrected] Sinn Fein shoots up five points the latest Sindo/Milward Brown Poll…

So the Millward Brown/Sunday Independent poll probably gives the most excitable readings of all the polls, so this one should be read with some caution. Just two weeks ago, though unreported here on Slugger (I plead boredom, for not having jumped) it showed SF in a sudden drop, now they have a severe bump:

Sinn Fein 26% (up 5%%), Fine Gael 25% (+3%), Independents and Others 23% (down 9%), Fianna Fail 19% (up 1%), Labour Party 6% (up 1%).

Sinn Fein most popular party in the state? Well, at one percentage difference with Fine Gael, you’d be chancing your arm to say that even on this strong showing. My own guess is that FG are stronger than current showing, and SF weaker.

But it was handily enough for both to spin it as good news. [Isn’t everything from the Sindo on SF’s Presidential Index? – Ed]. Er, no, only when the news is bad, or they’re pretending they’re not trying to block the naming of a Dublin flyover after a Sindo journo.

But what we can say more positively is that as we get closer to an election (this year or next) faith in opposition to the status quo appears to be splintering from the independents and the far left, and is currently heading for Sinn Fein’s front door.

At a guess, I’d suggest that the anti water tax antics of Paul Murphy and others may have backfired (though without a regional breakdown of voter sentiment, this is just a guess) as impractical gesture politics. As World by Storm notes, there’s been:

…nonsense and confusion over potential alliances that have yet to seriously manifest themselves and it could be that that ‘brand’ – a word I hate but not entirely inappropriate – is being negatively impacted.

More specifically it’s likely to be the absence of brand and, just as importantly, story that’s now pulling back the Independents appeal.

If this pattern is repeated in other following polls, then it is very much game on for Sinn Fein. Adrian Kavanagh, with his just for fun seat projections, demonstrates just how on that game might be, when he projects the following seat distributions:

Fianna Fail 34, Fine Gael 46, Sinn Fein 45, Labour Party 1, Independents and Others 33.

Brian Feeney remarked a few years ago that Sinn Fein was providing the most consistent offering of any party on the island. I’ll admit that I didn’t quite understand what he meant by it at the time since much of my own preoccupation was with the party’s non performance in government.

But the truth is that having a story matters almost more than anything else in politics. It may not be a good one, or even a credible one. But it will beat hands down those parties that don’t have one to call their own.

Fine Gael’s Frank Flannery posited a few years back that where politics should go was towards a Fine Gael Fianna Fail partnership government. Something that most FFers I’ve spoken to earnestly suggest is not on.

It was clever framing by Flannery, who has always been a canny admirer of old style Fianna Fail populism. At 19%, Fianna Fail’s support appears to have stabilized at just above its 2011 base across a broad range of polling.

But what should worry them is that they no longer seem to figure in the thoughts of anyone else as a credible alternative to either Fine Gael, or Sinn Fein. That, to put it at its plainest and simplest, is because they no longer appear to have a story to put in front of the people.

But SF’s record in Northern Ireland government is poor, but since they remain electorally unrivaled in northern nationalism, that’s of than no interest to their southern voters.

If Tspiras and Greece get anything useful from the EU over austerity measures, it may yet clear a path for them to over take Fianna Fail as the lead party of opposition in the Republic

A nice place to be with your favourite horse still running. Although that’s a race which is still far from run. As Noel Whelan wrote on Friday

…incumbent centre-right governments across Europe know that facilitating a positive outcome for the Greek government will not assist their own prospects of re-election.

Having implemented various types of what they see as successful austerity programmes in their own countries they’ll be damned if they are going to let the Greeks give credence to the suggestion that there was or is an alternative way.

Could be a bumpy ride ahead. In meantime, it will suit Fine Gael and Sinn Fein to belly it out as a unique struggle between left and right. Fianna Fail needs to get its story telling hat on to avoid a major squeeze with an election possible anytime from this summer through to next.

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  • Joe_Hoggs

    Protest vote, if the come in via a coalition watch their popularity drop.

  • Ernekid

    On the same day that the Tories have seen a 6 point poll jump in an ICBM poll according to the Guardian. Wouldn’t it be great if somebody did some actual journalism and investigated how these polling companies operate? There seems to be a new poll daily and the variations between them in results and in methodology has rendered them meaningless.

    The American culture of opinion polls that has infested British and Irish politics has been one of the most negative political developments in recent years.

  • John O’Brien

    No doubt Sinn Fein can get a quarter of the vote. With satisfaction with the gov at 23% no reason it can’t be higher. Though Millward Brown’s polls have been kind to them. It’s the 4th time SF have been the largest party in them, and the 3rd at 26%.

    A reason for caution is that Millward Brown had the last poll before the Locals/Euros in May, which read: SF( 23%) FF(21) FG(20) Lab(6) Ind (27). Perhaps one reason that polls > elections for SF, is that they do extremely well among younger voters, who don’t vote. Whereas FF do well with to old, who do.

    With independents’ drop, I’m not sure it’s Jobstown, but more a case of the fairly poor and unclear progress being made by the various groupings. The left in Irish politics has probably been overstated recently. For the last while RedC have broken down the “Independents”, and each time the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit have only polled 1% each. In the Local elections they each got 1.2 and 1.7% respectively. Only 8% said they’d definitely vote for an alliance of left-wing parties: http://www.thejournal.ie/poll-lucinda-1881093-Jan2015/

    Maybe being ‘Independent’ in Ireland is now similar to in the US, i.e. a floating voter as opposed to a party one.

  • barnshee

    ” Wouldn’t it be great if somebody did some actual journalism and investigated how these polling companies operate?”

    Simple—- sampling and extrapolation from sample

    Mind you needed are strict rules about sample size, random selection of participants and MOST important margins of error.( Its “A” level statistics basically)

    Simple then BUT even the best public opinion poll is only a snapshot of public opinion at the particular moment in time, not an eternal truth. Voter opinion can shift dramatically from week to week, even day to day, as candidates battle it out on the campaign field.

  • Dec

    At the risk of being accused of playing the man (FF) again, I’ll suggest one story telling hat the soldiers of destiny need to avoid is the one that recounts the time they saddled the people of Ireland with the enormous debt (€200 billion or thereabouts) all their banking and property developing mates had run up. Best concentrate on SF’s ‘poor record in government’.

  • mjh

    You might like to take a look at Anthony Wells site http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/
    In the section ‘Articles and FAQs’ he has useful summaries on aspects of how polling companies operate.

  • sean treacy

    John OBrien,SF hit almost 20% in the euros,so expect the low 20s at least if they are polling 26 on the eve of poll.John Mooney,would your low opinion of Labour be widespread in the SDLP?

  • Neil

    As evidenced by the amusing image poking fun at the shinner WF strategy, obviously they’d have been better off not trying for a better deal at all (DUP) or pretending they have a choice (SDLP). And they don’t even have the stoop defence – they started it I believe it boiled down to.

  • Mister_Joe

    Well, you can make a fortune on the stock market one day and lose it all the next.

  • Gingray

    Jeepers Mick, shockingly poor analysis here. First off are Sinn fein up 5 or 6 points? Your numbers don’t add up.

    It’s one poll, and it’s got lots of anti sinn fein people in a panic. In many regards they should be doing much much better – a discredited opposition, tarnished labour and weak government and yet sinn fein is only low to mid twenties.

    But it suits people who don’t like SF to blow polls like this out of proportion.

    Glad you are taking Feeneys point on board, something I noticed in one of your other sf blogs, and I picked up in an Irish times pod, in that lots of politicos think sinn fein and their rigid sticking to message is a bad thing, while in actual fact for a large part of the public the consistency that brings is a plus point. But they are still transfer toxic, and will stay so this election cycle

  • Glenn Clare

    Just trowing it out there but would it be a bad thing if the sinners/provos did take power in the south???

  • Robin Keogh

    God i would love to believe this poll is a true reflection but i just dont. MB polls are all over the place, they are surely the weakest and least accurate of all polling companies so no surprise they are used by the weakest and least accurate news media organisation. On a very good sunny day i reckon the shinners could be around maybe 22%. I say this based on looking at the polling trend over the last few months. Also there has been no earthquakes strong enough recently to throw up those kinda numbers. I am not a conspiracy theorist normally but it would not surprise me in the slightest it the snakes and rats in INM have massaged the figures to present the people with a sort of doomsday choice scenario. If it is true, let me tell u i will be in a bath of champagne come election night !

  • mickfealty

    I’m not against sticking to message at all Gingray, only when it’s nonsense.

    What the populists have right (and technocrats conveniently forget) is that the licence to operate comes from the electorate up.

    What’s problematic is their willingness to burn the message when it comes to delivering.

    What’s wrong with the figures, btw? (Only asking because you’ve not said).

  • Gingray

    Blog title is sinn fein up 6%, detail in table is +5%. Aidan Kavanagh had a similar mistake, but for Fine Gael.

    It’s interesting that when it’s sinn fein, compromise is branded burning the message, but hey ho, I shouldn’t expect anything less given that attacking sinn fein is your favourite blog topic.

    This should have been about the poll and a more detailed analysis on the poll itself would have been constructive. Is this a one off? What have other polls said? Will sinn fein turn polling numbers into voting numbers?

    On the last, given that their voting demographic is younger and more working class, I think continue to drop 3-4 points as in recent elections but that transfers from other parties higher than last dail.

  • barnshee

    “Just trowing it out there but would it be a bad thing if the sinners/provos did take power in the south???”

    Can`t wait for it- would be the best of all possible worlds -they would be exposed as– er politicians- and subject to the same reality check that they have been exposed to north of the border i.e. money don`t grow on trees.

    With a bit of “luck” they would arrive at a “Greek” style solution where they would be told to put Their house in order (or foxtrot oscar) Ourselves alone indeed

    Sadly with the fractured ( weak?) structures that PR produces its unlikely to last

  • Sliothar

    I think I read in the weekend past Adams saying that SF wouldn’t make the same mistakes as Labour. Be that as it may, there are enough precedents out there demonstrating how short a shelf life a junior party has in a coalition, Lib-Dems (UK) and Labour (Irl), to name but two. Apart from the (unlikely,imo) scenario that SF emerges as the majority party, it will be up to them to decide what sort of a coalition they wish to enter. I don’t think a full ‘marriage’ is on given the examples above and, as the economic forecasts are not yet bright enough to look forward to, I would imagine there’ll be some sort of arms-length/semi-detached coalition cobbled together as they wouldn’t like to take ALL the flak for unpopular decisions. How this would work, however, in a practical sense and in a sovereign government, does not make for a smooth passage. SF cannot be seen taking the weasel approach of the UU and SDLP where these parties have abstained on an important issue knowing that it’s gonna go through anyway and then call for the finger bowl, ‘Nothing to do with us, Guv’. Finally, as the Greeks have the EU financial institutions – and everyone else! – in a sweat for the forseeable, I don’t think ANYONE has a clue as to the likely outplaying of current Irish politics.

  • Barneyt

    I’ve asked this before, but how can you compare SF in government in the dysfunctional northern executive with their potential governing in the republic.

    Surely the DUP and SF are rendered ineffective (or are not as effective as they could be) due to:

    tribal nature of politics
    power sharing and more importantly the need to retain the northern institutions (peace process big stick)
    lack of opposition and perhaps accountability
    unnatural coalition between left and right

    Whilst there is no alternative to the above presently, the northern institution is and surely has to be biding its time until its safe to let a less polarised community decide on the governments nature and configuration.

    In the ROI, we are faced with more normality. Its not a like-for-like scenario and surely you cannot extrapolate SF’s performance in the north (due to above), southwards?

    By all means hold SF, DUP and any other party to account. I have no problem with that, but we are talking about two different domains, with two different constraints and mechanisms of accountability i.e. abnormal V more normal (ROI).

  • Barneyt

    If the polls are to be believed, a quarter (previously higher) of the state intend to vote away from the big three and even labour. That’s a big slice of action to try to entice. My feeling is that come the election, the % the independents hold will diminish substantially, so that’s as much as 10% that could be carved up or be largely absorbed by one party. My view is that SF are likely to be the main benefactors.

    The election even will turn folks away from independents, who must surely be regarded on the whole as colloquial and perhaps driven by single issue politics.

    FG will better FF. SF will better FG. For me the most stable coalition will be SF (32%)/FF(19%). Coalescing with independents is too risky and for any major partner, they will be herding cats. FG will get %21, Labour 5% and independents and other will carve up the rest (15%). How do I know this? A pure stab in the dark.

    I feel the electorate will give SF a chance, some of this in protest, some genuinely looking for a sea change.

  • Tacapall

    I had trouble trying to get my head round Gerry Lynch’s post the other day, no insult intended Gerry my best friends are gay then comes along Gerry Adams tweet about trampolining with his dog naked, wtf, this man wants to be Taoiseach is this being peddled as eccentricity, is that normal behaviour for someone who is attempting to be the next leader of the Irish people. Sinn Fein is a well oiled machine and Gerry Adams is just a figurehead there is no chance that tweet was posted without first being approved by those who pull his strings, what is abnormal behaviour these days and what chance is there that that revelation will have a positive or negative effect on Sinn feins popularity both North and South.

  • aber1991

    WHY had the SDLP invited Conor Cruise O’Brien to their Conference?

    Why, more than 25 years later, did they allow Ruairi Quinn and Liz McManus to come to Northern Ireland to canvass for them? What sort of idiots have been leading the SDLP? Why have SDLP politicians fraternised with Eire politicians who have given much offense to the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland?

  • I’m getting a bit irritated with this constant usage of the unhelpful and vaguely worded ‘independent and others’ choice in Irish opinion polls. Surely including the other leftist parties as separate choices for respondents in future opinion polls isn’t much to ask. It would at least go someway towards understanding how much of this so-called ‘independents and others’ bloc is actually for non-partisan independents.

  • mickfealty

    Because it is all we have to go on, and it to be fair, if you look at the detail (which alas most of the commentariat don’t) it’s pretty telling.

  • mickfealty

    Thanks. I’ll correct the mistake when I get a chance. Accountability is what these comments are about.

    Compromise on WR, how? There was no compromise except the opportunity to borrow more cash to pay off workers… which will be a further burden on the block grant. And as Pete notes, the deal we have is no much different from what Scotland has.

    We might have been in better shape if we hadn’t been loaded with the cost of the party’s show protest, and they had followed the original deal SF themselves co-negotiated with the DUP in Stormont Castle. All a bit of an amatuer magician’s act to make out they are not the ones with power in NI.

    It might be my ‘favourite’ subject you know: I haven’t kept track of it but the archive is there so people can probe my personal outputs over the last 12.5 years (mistakes and all).. and call me to proper account. Personally, I don’t like writing about the emptiness of politics. I’ll take any and every opportunity to write about subjects that have substance and don’t disintegrate on the lightest of touches.

    Check back over the last few months, and report back with some figures. We can take it from there…

    Re the poll analysis: all polls are merely a crude indicator and as I said in the original analysis this is one of the least reliable of them all. We’re not the NI Poll Report here, but I do try to take an interest not least since they are so frequently misquoted or misread by NI political commentators who take less of interest in them.

    With comments facility, even my own mistakes get taken, challenged, corrected and re-contextualised. That’s the real advantage of having a genuinely pluralist and open approach to debate.

    That said, (partly to save myself from terminal boredom) I did include some interim thoughts on how the wider game was going. My genuine feeling is that there is no much between three parties and the INdependents… and there hasn’t been for some time

  • Gingray

    Since Christmas 70/30, with 30% featuring SF in some manner. Do you think you post about any single topic more than SF?

    In the south I think its FG mid 20s, SF, low-mid 20s and FF low 20s with Indys polling higher now but ending up around low 20s.

    I assume you think SF should have just abandoned their position and caved immediately on WF? Do you not think the more principled position was to try and get a better deal? They failed, and failed miserably, and in the end compromised on their position to make a deal. I get that you want to belittle that, thats your choice.

  • mickfealty

    You can presume that since SF negotiated this deal that the protest was an attempt to communicate the [false] idea that it had nothing to do with them.

    That duplicity is an issue for those of us trying to figure out precisely what’s going on. How many of those mentions include stories that were substantially about SF rather than SF as part of a larger story?

  • mickfealty

    Not sure I can give this answer it truly deserves and be allowed to continue commenting on my own site… 🙁

  • mickfealty

    Please do feel free to share any evidence you might have there was any attempt to ‘get a better deal for the people of Northern Ireland?’

  • Gingray

    Lol sorry Mick, this has veered way off topic. On the issue of compromise I think you still view things from a ‘smash sinn fein’ perspective, and it means you will always find a negative in their actions. Including this polling information.

    In regards this poll, I think we can happily agree on 3 parties in the mix along with the independent blocks.

  • mickfealty

    Ahem, when did you stop beating your wife you mean, surely?

  • mickfealty

    Not that I’ve seen. You do keep making a case for the futher amelioration of welfare cuts, but the issue at debate is and mostly has been, is this what SF were actually after? On that matter, you have been very enthusiastic in trying to change the subject.