Politicalreform.ie on the Red C Poll Jaunary 2013

The slow Fianna Fail march continues apace – Commentary on the Paddy
Power-Red C poll (10th January 2013)

Adrian Kavanagh, 10th January 2013

Today’s Paddy Power-Red C poll is the first major poll of the 2013
calendar year and the first such one since the Budget in December. As
with the December 2nd Sunday Business Post-Red C poll, it does not
make for pleasant reading for Fine Gael, with the party support levels
down three percentage points on the previous such Paddy Power-Red C
poll in May 2012.  

This poll puts national support levels for the main
political parties and groupings, and relative to the most recent
Sunday Business Post-Red C poll of May 17th 2012, as follows: Fine
Gael 29% (down 3%), Labour 13% (NC), Fianna Fail 21% (up 3%), Sinn
Fein 16% (down 4%), Green Party 3%/Independents, United Left Alliance
and Others 18% (combined levels up 4%). My constituency-level analysis
of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such
national support trends be replicated in an actual general election,
would be as follows: Fine Gael 56, Labour 18, Fianna Fail 37, Sinn
Fein 23, Green Party 1, United Left Alliance 4, Independents and
Others 19.

This analyses used here are similar to previous posts which have
applied a constituency level analysis (although with these using the
constituency units used for the 2011 General Election) based on
assigning seats on the basis of constituency support estimates and
simply using a d’Hondt method to determine which party wins the seats,
while also taking account of the factors of vote transfers and vote
splitting/management (based on vote transfer/management patterns
observed in the February 2011 election). Based on such an analysis and
using the new constituency units (as defined in the 2012 Constituency
Commission report) – the new constituencies which will be used for the
next general election (assuming an election is not called in the
following months before the Electoral Act putting the new constituency
configuration into effect) – these analyses estimates what party seat
levels would be, should such national support trends be replicated in
an actual general election. These analysis suggests that Fianna Fail
would seem to be the party most likely to be positively effected by
the redrawing of the constituency boundaries and suggests that the
party, in this context, would be gaining as a result of the boundary
changes, in addition to the party’s improvement in its opinion poll
levels relative to its 2011 General Election figures, irrespective of
the impact of a reduction in Dail seat numbers from 166 to 158.

The constituency support estimates based on the Paddy Power-Red C poll
figures, when using the new constituency units (as used for the next
general election), are as follows:
FF      FG      LB      SF      GP      ULA     OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny         34%     31%     11%     15%     5%      2%      3%
Cavan-Monaghan  21%     28%     3%      38%     1%      0%      8%
Clare   26%     34%     10%     5%      3%      0%      22%
Cork East       22%     31%     22%     18%     2%      0%      4%
Cork North Central      19%     22%     17%     23%     2%      10%     8%
Cork North West         31%     40%     10%     12%     2%      0%      4%
Cork South Central      34%     27%     12%     13%     4%      0%      10%
Cork South West         29%     40%     10%     12%     3%      0%      6%
Donegal         21%     17%     4%      39%     1%      0%      17%
Dublin Central  17%     16%     19%     20%     3%      0%      25%
Dublin Mid West         15%     26%     21%     19%     6%      9%      5%
Dublin Fingal   18%     25%     17%     4%      14%     18%     4%
Dublin Bay North        15%     28%     20%     15%     3%      4%      15%
Dublin North West       14%     14%     29%     34%     2%      2%      4%
Dublin Rathdown         11%     29%     11%     4%      12%     2%      30%
Dublin South Central    11%     18%     24%     23%     3%      17%     4%
Dublin Bay South        13%     28%     17%     6%      10%     2%      24%
Dublin South West       13%     25%     22%     20%     4%      5%      11%
Dublin West     21%     23%     20%     10%     2%      23%     1%
Dun Laoghaire   19%     30%     20%     4%      7%      12%     9%
Galway East     22%     36%     10%     8%      1%      0%      23%
Galway West     23%     27%     8%      9%      3%      0%      30%
Kerry County    14%     27%     11%     17%     1%      0%      30%
Kildare North   18%     29%     21%     9%      3%      0%      20%
Kildare South   27%     29%     19%     10%     2%      0%      13%
Laois   33%     29%     8%      21%     1%      0%      7%
Offaly  28%     21%     3%      10%     1%      1%      36%
Limerick City   28%     36%     15%     13%     2%      2%      4%
Limerick        24%     43%     11%     6%      1%      0%      14%
Longford-Westmeath      25%     33%     19%     13%     1%      0%      10%
Louth   18%     24%     12%     32%     7%      0%      8%
Mayo    21%     54%     4%      11%     1%      0%      10%
Meath East      25%     34%     15%     14%     2%      0%      11%
Meath West      22%     36%     9%      27%     2%      0%      4%
Roscommon-Galway        17%     33%     7%      9%      1%      0%      33%
Sligo-Leitrim   27%     28%     5%      26%     1%      4%      9%
Tipperary       18%     22%     10%     8%      1%      11%     29%
Waterford       17%     31%     13%     16%     1%      0%      22%
Wexford         23%     28%     14%     9%      1%      1%      23%
Wicklow         13%     32%     12%     16%     2%      0%      25%

Based on these constituency estimates and using a d’Hondt method to
determine which party wins the seats in a constituency, the party seat
levels are estimated as outlined below. In the process the model has
been amended to account for seats that might be allocated in the
initial model solely on the basis of a large/small number of
candidates contesting the election in 2011 or on the basis of very
high 2011 support levels for certain independent candidates which
would be unlikely to transfer into electing other independent
candidates (e.g. Shane Ross in Dublin Rathdown), as well as to take
account of vote transfers and vote management (e.g. discrepancies
between votes won by party front runners and their running mates which
would see potential seat wins fall out of a party’s hands). Taking all
this into account, the seat allocations across the constituencies
would look more like this:
FF      FG      LB      SF      GP      ULA     OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny         2       2               1
Cavan-Monaghan  1       1               2
Clare   1       2                                       1
Cork East       1       1       1       1
Cork North Central      1       1       1       1
Cork North West         1       2
Cork South Central      2       1               1
Cork South West         1       2
Donegal         1       1               2                       1
Dublin Central                  1       1                       1
Dublin Mid West         1       1       1       1
Dublin Fingal   1       1       1               1       1
Dublin Bay North        1       1       1       1                       1
Dublin North West                       1       2
Dublin Rathdown                 2                                       1
Dublin South Central            1       1       1               1
Dublin Bay South                2       1                               1
Dublin South West       1       2       1       1
Dublin West     1       1       1                       1
Dun Laoghaire   1       2       1
Galway East     1       1                                       1
Galway West     1       2                                       2
Kerry County    1       1               1                       2
Kildare North   1       1       1                               1
Kildare South   1       1       1
Laois   1       1               1
Offaly  1       1                                       1
Limerick City   1       2       1
Limerick        1       2
Longford-Westmeath      1       2       1
Louth   1       1       1       2
Mayo    1       3
Meath East      1       2
Meath West      1       1               1
Roscommon-Galway        1       1                                       1
Sligo-Leitrim   1       2               1
Tipperary       1       1                               1       2
Waterford       1       1               1                       1
Wexford         1       2       1                               1
Wicklow         1       2               1                       1
STATE   37      56      18      23      1       4       19

Should the seat estimates based on the Paddy Power-Red C poll figures
pan out after the next general election however, the government
parties would not have a sufficient combined number of seats to have a
majority in Dail Eirean (74 seats), while a potential Fianna Fail-Sinn
Fein alliance would have 60 seats. The only viable two-party coalition
option would involve Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, a potential coalition
government who would enjoy a comfortable majority in the smaller Dail
Eireann with a combined seat number of 92 seats (majority of 26
seats). (A Fine Gael-Sinn Fein coalition option would be just about
viable in numerical terms (79 seats), but just would not happen.) A
potential Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Labour alliance would muster 78
seats based on this analysis, which would be just one seat short of
the number needed to have a bare majority in Dail Eireann, but the
potential election of five Fianna Fail gene pool independents (Clare,
Kerry South (2), Offaly, Tipperary South) could offer possibilities
here.

While this poll is obviously not good news for the government parties
(and especially Fine Gael), they may be encouraged by the fact that
their combined support levels are similar to what they stood on in the
December 2nd The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (with the Fine Gael
support level one percentage point higher than it was in this and the
Labour support level one percentage point lower). Labour may be
especially heartened by the fact their support levels have not dropped
to any discernibly significant level in the wake of the December 2012
Budget, with the party still in the lower-to-mid teens poll numbers
that they have been on for much of the previous eighteen months. The
bad news for Labour is that a combination of factors have meant that
they will find it harder to to translate support levels into seats at
the next general election. First of all, the 2012 Constituency
Commission boundary changes have probably more adversely effected them
more so than any of the other parties or political groupings and an
earlier analysis suggested these changes alone will cost the party at
least four seats. The main problem from Labour arises from the
increased competition from Sinn Fein (despite the party’s declining
poll figures in recent months) and other left-leaning groupings, as
well as Fianna Fail. This also means that they will no longer, in some
cases, be able to rely on vote transfers from lower placed
left-leaning candidates to edge them into winning seats in tight
contests as in a number of constituencies on these figures these
left-leaning candidates will now find themselves ahead of the Labour
candidates and it could well be Labour who is providing the transfers
to edge Sinn Fein, United Left Alliance or left-wing independent
candidates into taking seats in these constituencies. Labour will also
be likely to face the problem (similar to the Green Party in 2011) of
not being as transfer friendly as they were in 2011, which will
probably cost them some seats at the next general election.

In stark contrast to the unpromising political landscape they faced in
late 2010 and 2011, Fianna Fail has enjoyed slow but sustained
progress during 2012 and this carries into the first poll of 2013 – at
the same time, Sinn Fein poll numbers have declined in recent months
relative to the high levels enjoyed by the party in mid 2011. As well
as their improved poll standings, Fianna Fail are well placed to
benefit from the 2012 Constituency Commission boundary changes, with a
previous analysis showing that these changes would have been likely to
edge an extra few seats towards Fianna Fail (despite the overall
reduction in Dail seat numbers) even if their poll figures had
remained static. The catch-all nature of Fianna Fail support, which
proved a curse when support levels fell below the twenty percent mark
at the 2011 General Election, now again proves a blessing as on a
national support level of 21% the party would now be well placed to
win a seat in most Dail constituencies (with the exception of some
3-seat and 4-seat Dublin constituencies, but even in these
constituencies Fianna Fail would be well in the mix to challenge for
the final seat) and even two seats in their stronger constituencies,
including Micheal Martin’s Cork South-Central constituency. Clever
candidate selection, helped by a strong 2014 local election
performances for potential new general election candidates, could put
Fianna Fail in a strong position to push for even further seat gains
(for example a potential Averil Power-Deirdre Heney ticket in Dublin
Bay North could well help Fianna Fail’ challenge for two seats in that
constituency, especially given the strong Fianna Fail support
tradition in the Dublin North City area).

Based on these estimates, the Green Party would regain their old
Dublin North seat in the new Dublin Fingal constituency at the next
election and Green candidates would be predicted to be competitive in
the Dublin Bay South and Dublin Rathdown constituencies. In the latter
case, while Eamonn Ryan is not helped by the reduction in the
constituency size of the old 5-seat Dublin South, the model would
suggest  that he would pose the most significant challenge to the
second Fine Gael candidate here in the competition for the third seat
in the new Dublin Rathdown constituency, especially if vote transfers
to the Green Party return to the levels enjoyed by that party in the
early-to-mid 2000s.

The model again suggests a strong showing for independent and smaller
party candidates in terms of potential seat levels. Of the 19 seats
estimated to be won by such candidates, 12 would be won by
right-wing/centrist candidates and 7 by left-leaning candidates.
Factoring in figures for the United Left Alliance, Labour, Greens and
Sinn Fein, this would mean that the combined seat numbers won by
left-leaning candidates on the basis of these figures would stand at
53, down somewhat on the combined number of seats won by these
groupings in 2011 and well off the number (26 seats short) required to
have sufficient numbers to form a left-leaning government.