#Aras2018: Ask the electorate a stupid question and you might be disappointed in the answer…

NUpdate: Final result…

Two polls last night make today’s count for the Irish Presidency a foregone conclusion. The Irish Times has the larger sample…

But RTE’s is not that dissimilar…

The incumbent is so far ahead there should not even be a second count. If that’s the case, all but Casey and the President himself will lose whatever cash they spent on the election.

The most obvious reason is that voters were given no motive to ditch the incumbent from an office which is largely ceremonial. Many just stayed away from the polling stations.

The only real excitement was the sudden rise of backmarker Peter Casey on foot of his remarks about travellers, but even that was hardly construed as a direct threat to Michael D.

Speculation that FG and FF would pay dearly for leaving the party political field open to SF has proven wide of the mark. Liadh Ni Riada should land about half the votes of McGuinness seven years ago.

Keeping her under wraps until the weekend news of the Mairia Cahill Ombudsman Report came out (and then using it try and squash the story) cost her valuable months of public exposure.

Yet the blow is mostly psychological. Despite the consonance between McGuinness’ 2011 performance and the party’s 2016 GE result, Presidential elections are unreliable indicators of future Dail strength.

That’s why FG and FF were happy to sit this dance out. And why no one in Irish Labour thinks a revival is on the way any time soon (though it will be a balm for many of their beleaguered activists).

This one comes under the heading of ask a stupid question (ie, do you want to change the head of state?), you’ll likely get an answer you don’t not want to hear. And SF surely didn’t want to hear this one.

Pure populism, without looking for opportunity or investment in technocratic ability, and which largely entails following the whims of the voter can actually serve to make you less popular over time…

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