As You Were More Or Less…: Constituency-level analysis of Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll (25th September 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 26th September 2016

After little change in party support levels had been evidenced in the wake of the February general election, a series of opinion polls in July 2016 pointed to significant gains in support for Fianna Fail, pushing that party ahead of Fine Gael in terms of overall support levels. The latest in series of Red C opinion polls more or less reflects the trend that has been established across all polls from July onwards; showing Fianna Fail standing a few percentage points ahead of Fine Gael in terms of overall support levels.  This also reflects the trend evidenced in the recent Behaviour & Attitudes poll, in which the two largest parties were both seen to lose some ground to Sinn Fein, Labour and the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit. (This poll, however, sees the Social Democrats standing in notably stronger position than was the case with the Behaviour & Attitudes poll.) The 25th September Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 27% (down 2% relative to the previous Red C opinion poll), Independents and Others 26% (NC) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 6%, Social Democrats 4%, Green Party 2%, Renua <1%, Independent Alliance 4%, Other Independents 10% – Fine Gael 25% (down 1%), Sinn Fein 15% (up 2%), Labour Party 7% (up 1%). 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:  Fianna Fail 52, Fine Gael 44, Sinn Fein 23, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 8, Labour Party 7, Social Democrats 4, Independents 20.  

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Larger parties lose some ground to Sinn Fein: Constituency-level analysis of Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll (18th September 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 21st September 2016

The 18th September Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll shows  Fianna Fail still holding the position of the most popular political party in the state,  standing some five percentage points ahead of Fine Gael. However, the two largest parties have lost some ground in this, the latest in the series of Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion polls, with Sinn Fein emerging as the main beneficiaries of this loss in support. Labour continues to regain the ground lost by the party in the opinion polls carried out in the weeks/months immediately following the February election. The 18th September Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll estimated party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 28% (down 2%), Independents and Others 24% (NC) – including Social Democrats 1%, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 4%, Renua <1%, Green Party 2%, Workers Party 1%, Independent Alliance 4%, Other Independents 12% – Fine Gael 23% (down 2%),  Sinn Fein 18% (up 4%), Labour Party 7% (up 1%). 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:  Fianna Fail 54, Fine Gael 43, Sinn Fein 27, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 5, Labour Party 7, Social Democrats 1, Green Party 0, Independents 21.  Continue reading

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Fianna Fail surge confirmed: Constituency-level analysis of Sunday Business Post-Red C and Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion polls (18th July 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 18th July 2016 (Updated: 30th July 2016)

The July 7th  Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI opinion poll had shown the most dramatic movement in political party support levels since the February 26th General Election, pointing to a notable increase in support for Fianna Fail, mainly at the expense of the Independents grouping. The Red C and Behaviour & Attitudes opinion polls carried out between March and June had not shown any notable changes in support levels for political parties/groupings, but the most recent editions of these polls (both published on 17th July) now tend to mirror the trends observed in the Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, albeit not to as dramatic an extent. Contrasting with the Ipsos MRBI poll, these polls both point to a loss in support levels for Sinn Fein, bringing that party back to a level just below their February 26th General Election performance. There is no great movement in terms of support levels for Fine Gael and Labour, but these parties are not seen to be losing major ground in these polls either. The 17th July Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 29% (up 3% relative to the previous Red C opinion poll), Fine Gael 26% (NC), Independents and Others 26% (down 1% relative to the previous Red C opinion poll) – including Social Democrats 4%, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 5%, Green Party 4%, Renua 1%, Independent Alliance 5%, Other Independents 7% – Sinn Fein 13% (down 2%), Labour Party 5% (NC). 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: Fianna Fail 57, Fine Gael 50, Sinn Fein 18, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 6, Social Democrats 4, Green Party 2, Labour Party 4, Independents 17.  The 17th July Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 30% (up 5% relative to the previous Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll), Fine Gael 25% (down 1%), Independents and Others 24% (down 3%) – including Social Democrats 2%, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 5%, Green Party 2%, Renua 0%, Workers Party 3%, Independent Alliance 4%, Other Independents 8% – Sinn Fein 14% (down 3%), Labour Party 6% (up 1%). 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: Fianna Fail 58, Fine Gael 47, Sinn Fein 21, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 7, Social Democrats 3, Green Party 1, Labour Party 3, Independents 18.  

A Paddy Power-Red C opinion poll, carried out roughly two weeks after these two polls, produced roughly similar support levels to these. The 29th July Paddy Power-Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 28% (down 1% relative to the 17th July Red C opinion poll), Fine Gael 27% (up 1% relative to the 17th July Red C opinion poll), Independents and Others 26% (NC) – including Social Democrats 3%, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 4%, Green Party 3%, Renua <1%, Independent Alliance 5%, Other Independents 10% – Sinn Fein 15% (up 2%), Labour Party 5% (down 1%). 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: Fianna Fail 54, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 24, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 6, Social Democrats 3, Green Party 2, Labour Party 0, Independents 20.  

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Census 2016 Preliminary Population Figures – What these mean for 2016/17 Constituency Commission review

Adrian Kavanagh, 14th July 2016

The preliminary population by area Census 2016 figures were published earlier today (at 11 am), showing a population level within the state of 4,757,976, marking a notable increase (of 169,724) on the 4,588,252 population level recorded for the 2011 Census. Given that the Constitution explicitly states that the population per TD ratio nationally (this does not apply to individual constituencies) must not exceed 30,000 (or indeed fall below 20,000), this means that the smallest number of Dail deputies, which can be envisaged in the upcoming Constituency Commission review of Dail constituency boundaries, is 159, which is a higher number that the current membership (158 TDs of Dail Eireann). As a result, the extent of the boundary changes that will be required is probably more extensive than would have been envisaged prior to the publication of the preliminary population figures on this day.

This post will review the different scenarios that may emerge, depending on the new number of Dail seats that the Constituency Commission decides upon.

Update: The Ministerial Order of 14th July establishing a new Constituency Commission (as noted in Comments section below) effectively limit the range of seat number options left open to the new Constituency Commission to either 159 seats or 160 seats:

“the total number of members of the Dáil, subject to Article 16. 2. 2 of the Constitution, shall be not less than 153 and not more than 160”

Hence, while this post discusses a range of other seat number options, the discussion of 162, 164 and 166 seat number options here effectively amounts to am academic exercise in the light of the terms of reference set for the new Commission. 

This post also now includes an updated discussion of cases where the new Constituency Commission may have the ability to address existing breaches of county boundaries, without significantly compromising the proportionality principle – i.e. the average population per TD ratio in individual Dail constituencies should be within a 5% range above, or below, the national average.

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Census 2016 Provisional Figures and the Revising/Redrawing of Constituency Boundaries

Adrian Kavanagh, 8th July 2016

The publication of provisional Census 2016 figures on Thursday 14th July 2016 means that a process of revising and redrawing constituency boundaries for general and European elections will commence, after a new Constituency Commission is established. The process of revising constituency boundaries in the past did not commence until definitive Census population figures were published (usually around a year after the Census had taken place), but the 2009 Electoral Act – putting into effect a recommendation arising from the Murphy/McGrath High Court case in 2007 – allows the process to now commence after provisional figures are published. (These provisional figures are based on returns from the different census enumerators and are usually pretty close to the final/definitive figures when it comes to the larger geographical united such as counties or general election constituencies.)

This post will offer a quick overview of what will be involved in terms of the process of redrawing the election boundaries (which will  not conclude until the publication of a new Constituency Commission report, probably around May/June of 2017).

As noted below, as well as making decisions on the new constituency configurations, the 2012 Constituency Commission also needed to make a decision on what number of seats would be in the next Dail, eventually opting for 158 seats from a 153-160 seat range of options set for it by the Electoral Act.  Unless the population in the state is shown to exceed 4.74 million in the new Census figures (meaning that there must be more seats due to the one TD per 30,000 population provision set in the Constitution), the new (2016/17) Constituency Commission may not need to change the Dail seat numbers.

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The Noughties Coming Back as Fianna Fail surge?: Constituency-level analysis of Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI opinion poll (7th July 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 7th July 2016

You wait months for an opinion poll to show significant changes in party/grouping support levels and then, like Dublin Bus, two of them come at once! The series of Red C and Behaviour & Attitudes opinion polls carried out in the months following the February 26th election had not pointed to any major shifts in political support patterns during the new government’s “honeymoon period”. however last weekend’s Millward Brown poll had suggested that the three largest parties were making gains at the expense of the independents. Today’s Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll does not offer much in the way of good news for the Independents and Others grouping either (with the notable exception of the Green Party), but it definitely does offer very good news for Fianna Fail. At 33%, that party is seen to gain nine percentage points relative to its performance in February, but this also represents that party’s strongest performance in an Ipsos-MRBI poll since the economic crash in 2008, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Support trends by party/political grouping in Irish Times-Ipsos-MRBI polls between 2006 and 2016 (Data drawn from:  http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/poll)

Figure 1: Support trends by party/political grouping in Irish Times-Ipsos-MRBI polls between 2006 and 2016 (Data drawn from: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/poll)

Fine Gael and Labour are both seen to lose ground here relative to those parties’ disappointing results at the general election, but Sinn Fein support is seen to be up by two percentage points relative to the February vote. The 7th Juli Irish Times- Ipsos MRBI opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 33% (up 9% relative to the 2016 General Election), Fine Gael 24% (down 2% relative to the 2016 General Election),  Independents and Others 22% (down 8% relative to the 2016 General Election) – including Social Democrats 2%, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 2%, Green Party 4%, Independent Alliance 2%, Independents 4 Change 2%, Other Independents 9% – Sinn Fein 16% (up 2% relative to the 2016 General Election), Labour Party 5% (down 2% relative to the 2016 General Election). 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: Fianna Fail 59, Fine Gael 45, Sinn Fein 26, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3, Social Democrats 3, Green Party 2, Labour Party 2, Independents 18. (With improved candidate selection and vote management in a future election, Fianna Fail would probably win another c.4 seats, at least – and mainly at the expense of Fine Gael – on the support patterns conveyed in this opinion poll.) Continue reading

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City and County Council Members – Co-options and Changes since the 2014 Local Elections

Adrian Kavanagh, 6th July 2016 (with subsequent updates)

The 2014 Local Elections resulted in the election of 949 City and County Councillors. Since that election, I have estimated that 78 of the successful candidates in these elections have either stood down – in most cases, due to being elected to Dail Eireann or Seanad Eireann at the 2016 elections – or have sadly passed away. 52 of the former Councillors in this group are male (66.7%) and 28 are female (33.3%). At this point in time, new Councillors have been co-opted to the various councils to replace nearly all of these Councillors (776 of the 78 involved). Continue reading

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