Adrian Kavanagh, 3rd February 2011
Voting patterns are geographical patterns – as shown is this example from the Galway East constituency.
There is a lot of debate at present as to whether Fianna Fail are running too many candidates or not, relative to their current low levels of support in the opinion polls, and indeed, as akin to a burnt earth strategy, the parties is effectively surrendering some of the seats it won in 2007 by running fewer candidates in some constituencies than the number of seats the party won in that election (e.g. Donegal North East, Dublin South, Limerick). However, part of the reason as to why Fianna Fail has tended to win roughly 40-45 per cent of the vote in Irish general elections prior to this contest can be related to the fact that the party has tended to run significantly more candidates than any of the other parties and the fact that each extra candidate brings with them a certain personal/local vote to add to the party votes they can hope to win. Parties of course also react to this and will encourage their supporters to “vote locally” in order to balance the vote between party candidates as a means of maximising their number of seats in that constituency, as evidenced explicitly in a Fine Gael newspaper advertisement from that election (drawn from How Ireland Voted 2007).
This factor is evident if we study support maps for the different Fianna Fail candidates in this constituency – these maps being based by my own analysis of tallies figures for this constituency as published in the June 1st 2007 edition of The Connacht Tribune (page ), mainly involving a standardising of the polling box/district level tally figures into mappable electoral division level figures. First of all, a look at the geography of support for Michael Kitt, the only Galway East TD who will be defending his seat in General Election 2011, whose base is Castleblakeny, near Ballinasloe, in the north of the constituency:
Next the pattern of support for Noel Tracy, who was the other successful Fianna Fail candidate in 2007;
And finally the geography of support for the third, and unsuccessful, Fianna Fail candidate, Joe Callanan: