As #GE16 motors on we will be taking a look behind the scenes to keep you informed of the latest gossip from the front lines. If you have views or news from your constituency then email firstname.lastname@example.org and keep us posted.
It is still all to play for in #GE16 and the big talking point among the campaigners was opinion polls. Having waited desperately for news of progress they were met with two somewhat different polls. Of course all parties picked the one that looked best for them as the most reliable one. Polling companies were quick to point out differences in timing and also differences in how they assess the likelihood to vote. Most agree however that the electorate is still volatile and open to change if the mood catches it.
Sinn Fein’s proposals on the USC and Gerry Adam’s comments about gangland crime are getting lots of attention from other candidates and media today. SF believes that they are trying to put forward a reasonable, considered viewpoint. The hope is that this will highlight the grandstanding of others and show SF as a party able to face realities and take unpopular decisions. This is a bit of a gamble though. FG is convinced from its research that the USC is highly unpopular and anything short of abolition will be rejected by the electorate. The other problem for SF is that it does have to try harder than anyone else when it comes to crime, simply because those middle Ireland votes are still scared off by hint of being softer on crime.
Independents will have an important week ahead. They know that is important not to get squeezed out by all the announcements made by parties. Even Renua and the Social Democrats are getting some good air play for their proposals. If Independents are to maintain their position they will need to make some announcements in the week ahead to try and demand some debate time on the airwaves.
Rumour has it that FG is planning a late Enda blitz. With some strategists unhappy that Enda is (in their eyes unfairly) portrayed as avoiding debate, the party plans to make sure he will be very visible in the last 10 days. There is some strong theory behind the strategy too. One source suggests that the early part of the campaign sees voters spending little time really thinking about the differences. However, the end of the campaign will see minds focussing on who will be Taoiseach and the risk of instability and this is where Enda can excel as the man they know.
Fianna Fail believes that this week will start to shape the campaign debate. They are convinced that they have a good start and can progress. While wanting to play down their chances publically, FF internally believe a few percent swing from FG to them and its all change and say it is quite possible. The Micheál Martin poster for the campaign seems to be accepted as one of the better ones in this election but it’s going to take a lot more than that to change voters’ minds. FG remains convinced that all out attack on FF in relation to the economy is solidifying their vote behind them and ensuring that FF is no Lazarus.