Geographical perspectives on the May 2018 referendum contest

Adrian Kavanagh, 29th May 2018

With a national turnout rate of 64.1% – just 1.0% lower than the national turnout level for the 2016 General Election – the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy (Repeal of 8th Amendment) referendum was passed with 66.4% of the valid votes (almost two-thirds of all the valid votes cast).

ReferendumTurnoutTrends_19372018

Figure 1: Turnout levels at Irish referendum elections, 1937-2018

In actual voter number levels, the turnout at this referendum was 2,159,655, making this the referendum contest with the highest ever number of voters since the foundation of the state. In percentage terms (as shown by Figure 1), this marked the highest turnout level for a referendum contest, or set of referendum contests, since the three referendum contests that took place on the same day as the November 1992 General Election contest. This was also the highest turnout level for a “stand alone” referendum contest since the 1971 referendum on Membership of the EEC. Continue reading

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Larger Parties Squeezing Out Smaller Parties and Independents? Constituency-level analysis of Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI (19th April) poll and other Spring/Early Summer polls

Adrian Kavanagh, 19th April 2018

As the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2017 was officially passed into law just before Christmas 2017, the new Constituency Commission electoral boundaries are now used as the basis for the analysis. The translation of 2016 support figures onto these new constituency units is not a perfect one, alas, given the lack of tally figures in some cases (e.g. Laois, Offaly and Kildare constituencies) or the lack of time to carry out the necessary background analyses in other cases (e.g. constituencies in the West and North West). Where it has been possible to take account of tally figures, the constituency support estimates are based on the votes cast in the new constituency units in those cases.

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The early opinion polls in 2018 offered very good news for Fine Gael. The party has dropped back somewhat in the more recent polls, but it still remains the strongest party in the state by a distance of a number of percentage points over Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Furthermore, the combined vote Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil vote share across all of these polls has generally averaged out around, or higher than, the 60% level. This, admittedly, represents a lower support level than the combined vote levels commanded by these parties before the onset of the Economic Crisis in 2008, but these poll figures seem to mark another stage in the recovery of the “Civil War” parties, given that the two parties won less than half of the votes cast nationally at the 2016 General Election. Is the old “Civil War” politics model on the way back? Maybe, maybe not… However, it must be noted that when the other “Civil War” party, Sinn Fein, is factored in the combined support levels for the “Civil War parties” comes in at just under 80% in the latest Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll – up by around fifteen percent on the combined support levels won by these parties at the 2016 election. As the larger parties advance, the smaller parties and Independents all fall back, while the Labour Party support levels have tended to remain lower (especially in certain polls) than the already very low levels of support won by that party at the 2016 contest.   Continue reading

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Looking at the February/March 2018 polls: Constituency-level analysis of the 26th March Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll and other polls

Adrian Kavanagh, 26th March 2018

As the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2017 was officially passed into law just before Christmas 2017, this will be the first set of polls analyses to use the new Constituency Commission electoral boundaries as the basis for the analysis. The translation of 2016 support figures onto these new constituency units is not a perfect one, alas, given the lack of tally figures in some cases (e.g. the Laois, Offaly and Kildare constituencies) or the lack of time to carry out the necessary background analyses in other cases (e.g. the constituencies in the West and North West). Where it has been possible to take account of tally figures, the constituency support estimates are based on the votes cast in the new constituency units in those cases.

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The early opinion polls in 2018 have offered relatively good news for Fine Gael, although the party’s support level has fluctuated, at times, across these Winter/Spring 2018 polls. Furthermore, the combined vote Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil vote share across all of these polls has generally averaged out around the 60% level. This, admittedly, represents a lower support level than the combined vote levels commanded by these parties before the onset of the Economic Crisis in 2008, but these poll figures seem to mark another stage in the recovery of the “Civil War” parties, given that the two parties won less than half of the votes cast nationally at the 2016 General Election. Is the old “Civil War” politics model on the way back? Maybe, maybe not… Although it must be noted that when the other “Civil War” party, Sinn Fein, is factored in the combined support levels for the “Civil War parties” comes in between 75% and 80% in these two polls – up by over 15% on the combined support levels won by these parties at the 2016 election. As the larger parties advance, the smaller parties and Independents all fall back, while the Labour Party support levels have tended to remain lower (especially in certain polls) than the already very low levels of support won by that party at the 2016 contest.  Continue reading

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The January polls and the Impact of the Constituency Commission 2017 report changes: Constituency-level analysis of the Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI (24th January 2018), Sunday Times- Behaviour & Attitudes (21st January 2018) and Sunday Business Post-Red C (28th January 2018) opinion polls.

Adrian Kavanagh, 26th January 2018

As the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2017 was officially passed into law just before Christmas 2017, this will be the first polls analyses to use the new Constituency Commission electoral boundaries as the basis for the analysis. The translation of 2016 support figures onto these new constituency units is not a perfect one, alas, given the lack of tally figures in some cases (e.g. the Laois, Offaly and Kildare constituencies) or the lack of time to carry out the necessary background analyses in other cases (e.g. the constituencies in the West and North West). Where it has been possible to take account of tally figures, the constituency support estimates are based on the votes cast in the new constituency units in those cases.

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The first two opinion polls of 2018 – the Sunday Times-Behaviour and Attitudes poll (21st January) and the Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll (25th January) – offer relatively good news for Fine Gael, although the party’s support level has dipped slightly relative to the level of support registered by the party in the December 2017 polls. Furthermore, the combined vote Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil vote share in these two polls stands at just under 60%. This, admittedly, is lower than the combined vote levels commanded by these parties before the onset of the Economic Crisis in 2008, but these poll figures seem to mark another stage in the recovery of the “Civil War” parties, given that the two parties won less than half of the votes cast nationally at the 2016 General Election. Is “Civil War” politics back? Maybe, maybe not…although it must be noted that when the other “Civil War” party, Sinn Fein, is factored in here, the combined support levels for the “Civil War parties” comes in between 75% and 80% in these two polls – up by over 15% on the combined support levels won by these parties at the 2016 election. As the larger parties advance, the smaller parties and Independents all fall back, while the Labour Party support levels remain significantly lower (especially in the Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll) than the already very low levels of support won by that party at the 2016 contest.  Continue reading

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“Is There Anything To Be Said For Having A General Election?”: Constituency-level analysis of the Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI opinion poll (7th December 2017)

Adrian Kavanagh, 7th December 2017

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Following on the general election speculation of recent weeks and a decidedly unpromising Red C poll from the previous weekend, this morning’s Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI opinion poll offers very good news for Fine Gael, with this showing Fine Gael on a support level similar to that won by the party in the 2011 General Election. There is also good news for Sinn Féin, but not good news for Fianna Fáil, with that party’s support level falling – relative to the previous Ipsos-MRBI poll from October – in line with the surge in Fine Gael support. However, the combined vote Fine Gael/Fianna Fail vote share in this poll stands at 61%. This, admittedly, is lower than the combined vote levels commanded by these parties before the onset of the Economic Crisis in 2008, but these poll figures seem to mark another stage in the recovery of the “Civil War” parties. Is “Civil War” politics back? Maybe, maybe not…although it must be noted that when the other “Civil War” party, Sinn Fein, is factored in here, the combined support levels for the “Civil War parties” comes in 80% in this poll – up by over 15% on the combined support levels won by these parties at the 2016 election. As the larger parties advance, the smaller parties and Independents all fall back, with the exception of the Green Party, while the Labour Party support levels remain significantly lower than the already very low levels of support won by that party at the 2016 contest. 

The 7th December 2017 Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI opinion poll etimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 25% (down 4% relative to the previous Ipsos MRBI opinion poll), Fine Gael 36% (up 5%), Sinn Fein 19% (NC), Independents and Others 16% (down 3%) – including Solidarity-People Before Profit 1%, Social Democrats 1%, Green Party 3%, Independents 9% – Labour Party 4% (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 44, Fine Gael 70, Sinn Fein 28, Labour Party 2, Green Party 2, Social Democrats 1, Independents 11.     Continue reading

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The Empire Strikes Back: Constituency-level analysis of the Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI opinion poll (5th October 2017)

Adrian Kavanagh, 5th October 2017

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The trends evidenced in the most recent other opinion polls are readily apparent in this morning’s Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, which shows support levels for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail (and Sinn Fein) that are notably higher than the levels won by those parties at the 2016 General Election. This election had marked the first point in history in which the combined vote share for the traditional “main parties” of Irish politics, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, came in under the 50% mark. However, the combined vote Fine Gael/Fianna Fail vote share in this poll stands at 60%. This, admittedly, is lower than the combined vote levels commanded by these parties before the onset of the Economic Crisis in 2008, but these poll figures seem to mark another stage in the recovery of the “Civil War” parties. Is “Civil War” politics back? Maybe, maybe not…although it must be noted that when the other “Civil War” party, Sinn Fein, is factored in here, the combined support levels for the “Civil War parties” comes in at just under 80% in this poll – up by around 15% on the combined support levels won by these parties at the 2016 election. As the larger parties advance, the smaller parties and Independents all fall back, with the exception of the Green Party, while Labour support levels are significantly lower than the already very low levels of support won by that party at the 2016 contest. The Empire Strikes Back? Probably… Continue reading

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Flashback: Seat estimates for Irish Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne and Paddy Power-Red C opinion polls, 23rd February 2011

Adrian Kavanagh, 27th September 2017

A look back at an old constituency-level poll analysis – this one being the last analyses carried out ahead of the so-called “earthquake” election of 2011. This article was originally posted on what was then the Irish Political Reform website on 23rd February 2011, but this website has now become the Irish Politics Forum. The analyses naturally did not get the party seat levels exactly right (the poll figures did not match up with the actual vote patterns in the subsequent election and no model is that good). However, the figures were in the “general ballpark” in relation to the final tallies for the different parties and groupings. Indeed, the Millward Brown poll analysis did correctly predict a Labour Party seat level of 37 seats and a Sinn Fein seat level of 14 seats, while both models correctly predicted that the Green Party would win no seats. Fianna Fail fared better in the actual election than they did in these polls (and indeed the exit poll released on the morning of the election), but this higher support was offset by the impact of vote transfers on election day, which tended to especially favour Fine Gael and Labour and especially punish the government parties. Many commentators ahead of the election had expected that Fianna Fail would ultimately end up with around 40 seats, but the numbers in the poll analyses consistently pointed to more dramatic Fianna Fail losses if their national support levels remained in the mid-to-high teens. Fine Gael seat levels here were over-estimated due to the fact that the party was on a higher support level in these polls than they subsequently won in the actual election, but the analyses did capture the sense that Fine Gael could come relatively close to an overall majority with a national support level in the mid to high 30s. The difficulties faced in analysing/factoring in the “Others” grouping are readily evident here! Continue reading

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