Commentary on Public Submissions to the 2017 Constituency Commission

In July 2016, immediately following after the publication of provisional population by area figures by the Central Statistics Office for the 2016 Census, a new Constituency Commission was set in place to begin the process of redrawing European and general election constituency boundaries in light of the changes in population between 2011 and 2016 as revealed in these figures. The previous (2012) Commission had reduced the number of TDs down from 166 to 158, but population increase across the state between 2011 and 2016 means that the smallest number of TDs that the Constitution (should be at least one TD for every 30,000 people) will allow is now 159. (The new Commission can choose to go for either 159 or 160 Dail seats.) As with the 2011-12 review, the process of reviewing Dail and European constituency boundaries commenced much earlier for this Commission than for those between 1980 and 2007. Between 1980 and 2007, the process started after the publication of the final, or definitive, population by area census figures by the CSO (usually published a year after a Census was held). Following the ruling on the McGrath/Murphy High Court case in 2007, the Commission must now commence the process of redrawing Dail and European election constituency boundaries after provisional census figures are published although they cannot publish the final report until after the final or definitive population by area census figures have been published. Given that there tends to be little difference between provisional and final census figures for large areas such as constituencies, very few final tweaks may be needed should a draft version of the final report be available ahead of the publication of the final census figures and the published report is likely to be available some weeks after these figures are released.

In total, 418 public submissions were made to the 2017 Constituency Commission before the closing date for submissions (10th January 2017). This is well down on the 533 submissions that were made to the 2012 Constituency Commission (21.6% reduction), but still compares highly favourably with the 335 submissions made in the case of the 2007 Constituency Commission and the 99 submissions made in the case of the 2004 Constituency Commission. Continue reading

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The Geography of the 2016 USA Presidential Election: Analysing the Republican Party vote

Adrian Kavanagh, 6th-10th January 2017 

This article will offer a geographical perspective on the election results at the 2016 USA Presidential election. I have purposely held off on writing this article for the past few weeks, as election results still needed to be finalised in many US states a number of weeks after the election took place on 8th November 2016.

usa_presidentialelection2016

Figure 1: States won by Trump (red) and Clinton (blue) at the 2016 Presidential Election contest. Maine is shaded in purple, because Trump won one electoral college vote there (Congressional District 2), even though Clinton won that state. Alaska (won by Trump) and Hawaii (won by Clinton) are not included here.

This article will focus on the “where” of the recent electoral contest – what states saw the biggest increase/decrease in support for the different parties/candidates, as well as how these trends relate to overall regional trends within the USA over the past few decades, as well as the degree to which the number of voters increased/decreased across the different US states. In order to keep this post relatively focused/concise, most of this account will focus on teasing out the Republican Party support patterns at this election, but also within the context of the trends evident at other recent presidential election contests.

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Festive joy for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael: Constituency-level analysis of Irish Times-Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll (8th December 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 8th December 2016

After a series of polls in the Autumn/early Winter had pointed to a drop in support levels for Fianna Fail relative to that party’s high support levels in polls during the Summer, this morning’s Ipsos-MRBI poll sees significant gains in support for Fianna Fail and pushes that party ahead of Fine Gael again in terms of overall support levels, even though there is a one percentage point increase in support levels for Fine Gael. Sinn Fein – after a relatively disappointing general election – had made some notable gains in the most recent polls, but support levels for this party fall by two percentage points in this latest poll.

The 8th December Irish Times/Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 30% (up 4% relative to the previous Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll), Fine Gael 27% (up 1%), Independents and Others 20% (down 4%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3%, Social Democrats 2%, Green Party 3%, Independents 11%, Others 2% – Sinn Fein 17% (down 2%), 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 55, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 27, Labour Party 3, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3, Social Democrats 2, Green Party 1, Independents 18.  

Other Recent Polls: A number of other opinion polls were carried out in the weeks prior to, as well as the weeks following, the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll. Analyses of these are not covered in detail on this website, but the seat-estimate figures drawn from a constituency-level analysis of these polls will be reported below: Continue reading

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Back to the Feb-ture?: Constituency-level analysis of Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll (27th November 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 28th November 2016

The November 2016 Red C opinion polls shows little in the way of changes in support levels since the previous Red C poll in October. The main change here sees Sinn Fein gaining a further three percentage points in terms of their support levels, while support levels for the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit fall back by four percentage points, following on an exceptionally strong showing for that political grouping in the October 2016 Red C poll.  Support levels for Fianna Fail fall back by two percentage points, leaving Fine Gael once again positioned as the most popular party in the state (albeit by the narrowest of margins), based on these poll support levels.  As it is, the support levels in this poll mirrors the results of the February 26th election to a remarkable degree, save for the fact that Sinn Fein and Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit are faring slightly better and the Labour Party is faring slightly worse. It is almost as if the shifts in support levels that occurred over the past eight months never happened! The 27th November Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Independents and Others 29% (down 3%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 5%, Social Democrats 4%, Green Party 3%, Renua 1%, Independent Alliance 4%, Other Independents 12% – Fine Gael 25% (NC), Fianna Fail 24% (down 2%), Sinn Fein 16% (up 3%), Labour Party 5% (down 2%). 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 47, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 28, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 7, Labour Party 1, Green Party 2, Social Democrats 4, Independents 20.  
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The 2016 US Presidential Election: Disproportionality and the Electoral College

Adrian Kavanagh, 18th November 2016 – latest update: 3rd January 2017

As the dust settles following the conclusion of the 2016 USA Presidential Election campaign, there are two striking patterns, or trends, which point towards the high degree of disproportionality associated with the Electoral College system, as with other “first past the post” electoral systems:

  • Donald Trump can be seen to have won a very clear 306-232 victory in the Electoral College
  • Hillary Clinton emerged as the candidate with the highest number of “popular votes”. She held a lead of nearly three million votes over Donald Trump in the popular vote (over 2.8 million votes based on the latest updates)

Rather than getting into a pointless debate about the “unfairness” of the system. As an electoral geographer, my argument is that you have to take the rules of the electoral game/system and shape your campaign to put these to your advantage. This is something that the Trump/Republican campaign clearly did in 2016. Instead, this post will try to tease out why there was such a mismatch between the percentage of the electoral college votes won by the two candidates and the percentage of the popular vote won by them. Continue reading

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AAA-PBP SBB ina Shuí?: Constituency-level analysis of Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll (30th October 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 1st November 2016

The latest in series of Red C opinion polls shows little change in support levels for the two largest parties in the wake of the recent Budget, with Fianna Fail support levels dropping by one percentage point, while Fine Gael support levels remain as they were back in September’s poll. The Independent Alliance do gain two percentage points in this latest poll, however. The main shifts in terms of support patterns comes on the left of the political spectrum, however. Support levels for both Sinn Fein and Labour fall by two percentage points, but there is a three percentage point increase in support levels for Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit.  The 30th October Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 26% (down 1% relative to the previous Red C opinion poll), Independents and Others 32% (up 6%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 9%, Social Democrats 3%, Green Party 3%, Renua <1%, Independent Alliance 6%, Other Independents 10% – Fine Gael 25% (NC), Sinn Fein 13% (down 2%), Labour Party 5% (down 2%). 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 53, Fine Gael 48, Sinn Fein 19, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 12, Labour Party 2, Green Party 2, Social Democrats 2, Independents 20.  

Other Recent Polls: A number of other opinion polls were carried out in the weeks prior to, as well as the weeks following, the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll. Analyses of these are not covered in detail on this website, but the seat-estimate figures drawn from a constituency-level analysis of these polls will be reported below: Continue reading

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Heading towards a three-party, not a two-and-a-half party, system?: Constituency-level analysis of Irish Times-Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll (6th October 2016)

Adrian Kavanagh, 6th October 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 (most notably the July Ipsos-MRBI poll) pointed to significant gains in support for Fianna Fail, pushing that party ahead of Fine Gael in terms of overall support levels. The general trend since then has been for Fianna Fail to maintain its position ahead of the other parties and groupings, including Fine Gael, at the head of subsequent opinion polls, although the party, on average, has lost some support relative to the high levels it attained in the July Ipsos-MRBI poll, while Sinn Fein – after a relatively disappointing general election – has made some notable gains in the most recent polls.  This July Ipsos-MRBI poll had marked a notable break from the earlier post-election polls that preceded it. The latest Ipsos-MRBI poll is not as dramatic; although it does show a seven percentage point drop in Fianna Fail support, this probably merely reflects the trend that has been observed across other opinion polls over the past four months. This poll is notable because it shows Fine Gael drawing level with Fianna Fail, but other recent polls did not show a particularly sizable gap between these parties, in any case.  This poll amounts to very good news for Sinn Fein, as that party now finds itself once again at the level of support it enjoyed in the two years before the February 2016 election.  This is not a good poll for Labour, however, with that party staying at 5%; going somewhat against the trend in recent polls which saw that party clawing back the ground lost in the post-election polls.

The 6th October Irish Times/Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 26% (down 7% relative to the previous Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll), Independents and Others 24% (up 2%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3%, Social Democrats 2%, Green Party 3%, Renua <1%, Independents 15% – Fine Gael 26% (up 2%), Sinn Fein 19% (up 3%), 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 48, Fine Gael 48, Sinn Fein 31, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3, Green Party 3, Labour Party 2, Social Democrats 2, Independents 22.  

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