“Yes” campaign may need 70% Dublin turnout to carry referendum

I support Marriage Equality and I’d vote yes in the Referendum this week if I weren’t a disenfranchised Irish citizen simply because I live in the north of the island.  That’s a column for another day though…

It’s a safe bet that both the “Yes” and “No” sides in this Friday’s Marriage Referendum will agree that voter turnout will be key to whether the proposal to amend the Constitution passes or fails.

Having had a quick look on the Elections Ireland website, just how critical that turnout is and, indeed, where that turnout is becomes an even bigger issue.

Look at the results of the Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) Referendum in 1995 for example.  One might reasonably argue that religious attitudes regarding the sanctity of marriage have changed only marginally in the intervening 20 years.  Whilst social attitudes may have moved forward somewhat more, they might be considered as less relevant in a society where a larger percentage of couples cohabit outside marriage than ever before.

The Divorce referendum was carried by 50.28% to 49.72% – the thinnest of margins.  Scroll down the results by constituency though and what’s obvious is that the Capital carried the vote.  Only 16 of 41 constituencies voted in favour of the divorce amendment – all the Dublin constituencies and commuter belt in Louth, Kildare and Wicklow, plus Limerick City and Cork City (up the Rebels!).

Driving across country last week (I was in 14 counties), it’s clear that the “No” campaign has more posters in rural areas and the “yes” campaign in urban areas.  That’s not a scientific poll but it is a reasonable indication of the shade of opinion in a given area.  So if we accept that premise, it will fall to Dublin once again to carry the vote.

But looking at those numbers again, the areas where the vote supported the amendment were at around 66-69% turnout for the most part against a national average of just over 62%.  A 39% turnout like there was for the Seanad referendum of 2013 will not carry the Marriage Referendum and for a safe margin, a 70% turnout in the strong “Yes” constituencies of Dublin will be required.

This level of turnout is a big ask in a week when the Irish Independent Opinion Poll has the percentage of undecided voters at 23% and where the “Yes” side is on 53%. It will have to be a very busy last few days of campaigning.

As I said before regarding the Referendum on Scottish Independence, social media presence does not carry an election. The majority of my twitter timeline are “yes” supporters but unless every man jack of them goes out to vote, takes their Auntie Mary, their Granny and auld Mr. Murphy down the street with them to the polling station it’s going to be a very tight race.

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  • Séamus

    There’s been a massive voter registration drive plus a late surge of people registering before the deadline, and from what’s being said it looks to be good news for the Yes side. Let’s hope.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why is there no feeling that the rural communities would just be as in support of equal marriage as the city. It’s completely unfair to judge a whole generation based on the last, one way or the other.

  • Mike the First

    “if I weren’t a disenfranchised Irish citizen simply because I live in the north of the island.”
    Or to put it in clearer terms, because you don’t live in the state whose constitution may be changed.
    Living “in the north of the island” isn’t the point – there are plenty of people in Donegal who’ll vote, and there are plenty of Irish citizens who live right round the globe (not just Northern Ireland) who won’t have a vote.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    It’s still all speculation at this point.

  • I wouldn’t be at all surprised that the referendum answer is 52-57% no …

  • Kevin Breslin

    The week that the Republic is praised for its Maths and Science skills you come out with that line.

  • NMS

    Patricia, No representation without taxation. UKs who may happen to have an entitlement to Irish citizenship, but are resident outside the State of Ireland should not under any circumstances be granted the right to vote, unless of course the rules are changed to ensure that taxation is based on citizenship. At that stage, the matter may be reconsidered!

    Terence McSwiney may have written in “Principles of Freedom”, that “Our border is twofold, language and the sea.”, ach theip ar faoi dhó!

    To get back to the basic point – no one knows how the vote will go. There is a problem in that many people are sick of being lectured by an alliance of all political parties, the non State media, multi-nationals and trades unions, and many may VOTE NO purely as a reaction to that.

    My own guess is that it will pass, but in the circumstances, anything above about 10% for the No side, raises questions for those pushing the alternative. The level of resources on the Yes side far, far outweighs their opponents. Comparing it to the divorce referendum is plain stupid. Much of that referendum was fought on property rights. The divorce referendum passed because of very bad weather in the West of Ireland discouraged many older people out to vote. In the interest of democracy, the normal party campaigns to get the vote out were suspended, lest the vote would be lost.
    The forecast this time is reasonable.

  • noodles

    Just what percent of residents in the State of Ireland pay taxation?

  • Steve Larson

    No representation without taxation.

    Doesn’t make sense. A lot of people in Dublin etc will lose the vote with that.

  • Reader

    100% – that’s what VAT is for.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘A 39% turnout like there was for the Seanad referendum of 2013 will not carry the Marriage Referendum… ‘

    Does that mean there is a minimum threshold of turnout for the result to be valid? So a 100% ‘Yes’ vote would fail if fewer than 40% bother to vote at all?

  • John Collins

    Well I just wonder as most Europeans countries grant emigrants the vote for a limited number of years after they leave. Why should we be so different?

  • John Collins

    Quietness Kevin. He is allowing for those who vote early and often and those who are deceased but will ‘cast’ their vote due to some strange supernatural phenomenon.

  • NMS

    John, Some do for fixed periods of time, for example the UK. However in the case of Ireland you have the unusual position of that part of the UK called Northern Ireland, where people can automatically claim citizenship. Why should those who were not born in the State, do not pay towards the cost of running the State, decide on the make up of its laws? Most countries do not have reciprocal voting arrangements, allowing each others citizens to vote in General Elections based on residence, which Ireland and the UK have.

    I am also not sure how you can legally distinguish between citizens who have emigrated and those who have claimed citizenship, though never resided in the State.

  • NMS

    Dr Micheál Collins of the Nevin Economic Research Institute has definitively proven of course that those on lower incomes, who may not pay Income Tax, pay a high proportion of their income in other taxes, VAT & excise. http://www.nerinstitute.net/research/the-distributive-effects-of-recent-vat-changes-in-the-republic-of-ireland/. Micheál was a member of the last Commission on Taxation.

  • NMS

    Noodles – Again I refer you to the work of Dr. Micheál Collins of the Nevin Economic Research Institute. http://www.nerinstitute.net/research/the-distributive-effects-of-recent-vat-changes-in-the-republic-of-ireland/

  • NMS
  • Kevin Breslin

    Doesn’t matter about who is “casting” what, this is an issue about the vote counters.