Mixed fortunes for the Opposition parties! Constituency-level analysis of the Irish Times-Ispos MRBI opinion poll (9th October 2014)

Adrian Kavanagh, 9th October 2014 

The results of the latest in the series of The Irish Times-Ispos MRBI polls was published today and this has been largely in line with those of the preceding Red C and Millward Brown polls, but this obviously does convey especially good news for Sinn Fein. As the Ispos MRBI polls tend to be decidedly less frequent that those of other polling companies, the changing support trends in this poll might be viewed as being more reflective of the over-riding trends over the past few months (and especially since the Local and European election contests). The latest Irish Times-Ispos MRBI poll estimates party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous Irish Times-Ispos MRBI poll): Fine Gael 24% (NC), Sinn Fein 24% (up 4%), Fianna Fail 20% (down 5%), Labour Party 9% (up 2%), Independents, Green Party and Others 23% (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 34, Fine Gael 45, Sinn Fein 41, Labour Party 6, Independents and Others 32.

This poll offers mixed messages from Fine Gael. The party’s support levels remain at a similar level to which it stood in the previous such Irish Times poll. Some may interpret this as meaning that the McNulty affair has not had a notable effect on party fortunes, but it could also be argued that recent political events may have prevented the party from making political gains in light of improving national economic fortunes. Labour, as in the Red C and Millward Brown polls, experience a slight improvement in their poll support levels, but the party will need to make further gains over the next few months to avoid being left with a handful of TDs after the next general election (although there are some constituencies in this analysis where the party would come very close to taking extra seats, such as Dublin West and Dun Laoghaire). Sinn Fein are the big winners in this poll, with a four percentage point increase, and on this level of support the party would be in a position to take nearly all of its target seats (including the two West Cork constituencies) at the next general election, with the exception maybe of Kildare North. However, it is worth noting that, as the 2014 Local Elections showed, the party’s support levels in actual elections does not always match up with its support levels in opinion polls. The trend here for Fianna Fail is exactly the mirror image to that for Sinn Fein, with the party dropping five percentage points since the last Irish Times poll. But, as most electoral contests held since 2011 have shown, Fianna Fail have tended to perform better in actual elections than they have been performing in opinion polls. This may well be the case this week. On the basis of this analysis, Fianna Fail would not be expected to compete in either of tomorrow’s two by-elections, but the general sense is that they are actually well placed to win the Roscommon-South Leitrim contest (the analysis here, while focused on the new Roscommon-Galway, would suggest an independent candidate would win this). Could it be the case that voters are more inclined to support Fianna Fail candidates than they are to support Fianna Fail, the party,n and are less inclined to support Sinn Fein candidates than they are to support Sinn Fein, the party?

Constituency support estimates for different parties and groupings form the basis of the general approach taken with this analysis, which seeks to ask the following question in relation to different opinion poll results – what do these poll figures mean in terms of the likely number of Dail seats won by the different parties and groupings? Although the Irish electoral system is classified as a proportional electoral system, the proportion of seats won by parties will not measure up exactly to their actual share of the first preference votes, mainly because geography has an impact here – these first preference votes need to be filtered through the system of Irish electoral constituencies (and the different numbers of seats that are apportioned to these). In order to address this question, I estimate what the party first preference votes would be in the different constituencies, assuming similar (proportional) changes in party vote shares in all constituencies to those that are being suggested by a particular opinion poll. This of course is a very rough model and it  cannot take appropriate account of the fact that changing support levels between elections tend to vary geographically, while it also fails to take account of the local particularities of the different regions in cases where no regional figures are produced in association with different national opinion polls meaning that there is no scope to carry out separate regional analyses based on these poll figures. Thus constituency support estimates for different parties/groupings will be over-estimated in some constituencies and under-estimated in others, but the expectation would be that the overall national seat figures figures estimated will be relatively close to the true level, given that over-estimates in certain constituencies will be offset by under-estimates in others. Based on these estimated constituency support figures, I proceed to estimate the destination of seats in the different constituencies. The constituency level analysis involves the assigning seat levels to different parties and political groupings 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). Due to unusually high/low support levels for some parties or political groupings in certain constituencies in the previous election, the model may throw up occasional constituency predictions that are unlikely to pan out in a “real election”, but of course the estimates here cannot be seen as highly accurate estimates of support levels at the constituency level as in a “real election” party support changes will vary significantly across constituency given uneven geographical shifts in support levels. But the point to remember here is that the ultimate aim of this model is to get an overall, national-level, estimate of seat numbers and these are based, as noted earlier, on the proviso that an over-prediction in one constituency may be offset by an under-prediction in another constituency.  

Based on such an analysis and using the new constituency units (as defined in the 2012 Constituency Commission report), these analyses estimates what party seat levels would be, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election. For a variety of reasons (including the impact of high levels of undecided voters in a specific poll), the actual result of an election may vary from the figures suggested by an opinion poll, even if the poll is carried out relatively close to election day, or on election day itself as in the case of exit polls, but the likelihood of such variation is not something that can be factored into this model. I have made some further corrections to the base support figures for the different parties for this analysis to take better account of the impacts on support of the 2012 Constituency Commission report boundary changes with especial reference to the Dublin constituencies. For instance, these figures better reflect the weaker positions of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in Dublin Central after the moving out of the Ashtown area to Dublin West and the Botanic/Drumcondra area to Dublin North West, but also their stronger positions in Dublin West and Dublin North West. Fine Gael are assigned an extra seat in Dun Laoghaire on the basis that the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, will be automatically returned at the next general election (unless he decides to retire from politics before this) and this constituency will effectively be rendered a three-seat contest at the next general election. (Changes in constituency boundaries as outlined in the 2012 Constituency Commisison report have been factored in to this analysis. An overview of the political impacts of these changes on the adriankavanaghelections.org elections commentary site suggests that Fianna Fail would seem to be the party most likely to be positively effected by the redrawing of the constituency boundaries, with the Labour Party being the party likely to be the most adversely effected by these changes.)

Note that the approach used in this analysis is different to those of the constituency level analyses of the 2011-13 in that it now takes account of defections/changing party affiliations for people who were candidates in the 2011 General Election, as will be outlined in greater detail later in this post (and as such the seat estimates for this, and later posts, cannot be directly compared with those for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 analyses of post-General Election 2011 opinion polls). In cases where a General Election 2011 candidate has definitely left a party (or the independents ranks) to join another party or to become an independent, a portion of their 2011 will be taken away from the constituency base figures for their former party/grouping and added to those of their new party/grouping. The approach taken in the run up to the 2011 General Election was to assign all of the votes won by that candidate to their new grouping, but the actual 2011 results showed that this was an over-estimation of the likely impact  of such changes. For instance the Labour Party constituency estimates for Mayo and Roscommon-South Leitrim following the moves of Jerry Cowley and John Kelly into the Labour Party ranks were well in excess of the actual votes won by that party in those constituencies. In this approach, half of the votes won by a candidate in the 2011 contest will be assigned to their new party/grouping while the rest of the votes will remain assigned to their old party/grouping. Where a constituency boundary change is involved, meaning that part(s) of a candidate’s old constituency is now moved into another constituency/other constituencies, the base figures for all these constituencies will be recalculated to take account of this. For instance, the impact of Peter Mathews leaving the Fine Gael ranks means that the Fine Gael and Non Party base figures are altered in Dublin Rathdown, but also in the Dublin South-West and Dun Laoghaire constituencies. Note that this approach will not take account of candidates who have lost the party whip but who may ultimately return to the party at a later date or who have been temporarily suspended from their party, as in the cases of Brain Walsh (Fine Gael, Galway West) or Peadar Toibin (Sinn Fein, Meath West). This approach also takes account of those candidates who did not win Dail seats at the 2011 contest, including people like Fidelma Healy-Eames (Galway West), Eddie Fitzpatrick (Offaly), Jenny McHugh (Meath West) and Tom Fortune (Wicklow). In the wake of Patrick Nulty’s resignation, the correction made in Dublin West to the Labour and Independent/Non Party bases figures has now been reversed there.

The constituency support estimates based on the Irish Times-Ispos MRBI poll (9th October 2014), when using the new constituency units (as to be used at the next general election), are as follows:

Constituency FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 33% 28% 8% 23% 9%
Cavan-Monaghan 18% 22% 2% 50% 8%
Clare 26% 31% 8% 9% 27%
Cork East 21% 28% 16% 28% 6%
Cork North Central 17% 18% 12% 33% 20%
Cork North West 31% 36% 8% 19% 7%
Cork South Central 33% 24% 9% 20% 13%
Cork South West 29% 36% 8% 18% 8%
Donegal 17% 13% 3% 51% 16%
Dublin Central 16% 13% 13% 29% 28%
Dublin Mid West 14% 22% 16% 29% 19%
Dublin Fingal 19% 22% 14% 7% 39%
Dublin Bay North 14% 19% 11% 21% 35%
Dublin North West 12% 10% 12% 44% 22%
Dublin Rathdown 11% 21% 8% 7% 53%
Dublin South Central 11% 15% 17% 34% 23%
Dublin Bay South 7% 19% 12% 19% 43%
Dublin South West 12% 20% 16% 30% 22%
Dublin West 21% 20% 15% 15% 28%
Dun Laoghaire 19% 28% 16% 6% 31%
Galway East 26% 31% 5% 12% 25%
Galway West 22% 21% 6% 14% 38%
Kerry County 13% 23% 8% 25% 32%
Kildare North 18% 26% 16% 15% 25%
Kildare South 27% 26% 15% 16% 16%
Laois 32% 24% 6% 31% 7%
Offaly 28% 18% 2% 14% 37%
Limerick City 27% 32% 11% 19% 11%
Limerick 26% 42% 9% 10% 14%
Longford-Westmeath 24% 29% 12% 19% 16%
Louth 16% 19% 8% 44% 13%
Mayo 21% 49% 3% 17% 11%
Meath East 24% 30% 11% 22% 13%
Meath West 26% 29% 3% 37% 6%
Roscommon-Galway 16% 21% 5% 13% 46%
Sligo-Leitrim 23% 22% 3% 36% 17%
Tipperary 17% 20% 8% 13% 43%
Waterford 16% 27% 9% 23% 25%
Wexford 23% 25% 11% 14% 27%
Wicklow 12% 22% 7% 22% 37%

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 follows:

Constituency FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 1 1
Cork North West 1 1 0 1 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 1 0 1 0
Donegal 1 0 0 3 1
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 0 1 1 1 1
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 2
Dublin North West 0 0 0 2 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 0 1 2 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 0 1 2
Dublin South West 0 1 1 2 1
Dublin West 1 1 0 1 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 1 1 0 1 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 0 0 1
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 0 0 0 2
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 1 0 1 1
Louth 1 1 0 3 0
Mayo 1 2 0 1 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 1 1 0 1 2
Wicklow 0 1 0 1 3
STATE 34 41 6 38 39

These estimates also need to take account of the candidate and competition trends unique to the different constituency. Amending the model to account for seats that may be won or lost on the basis of estimates here being based on support levels derived due to a large/small number of candidates contesting the election in 2011 (as in the large number of independent candidates competing in constituencies such as Wicklow or Laois-Offaly in 2011) or one candidate polling especially well in that election (e.g. the Shane Ross vote in Dublin South/Mick Wallace vote in Wexford) in a manner that would not amount to an extra seat for another member of the same party/grouping. Vote transfer patterns and vote management issues (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) also need to be accounted for. Taking these concerns into account, the amended seat allocations across the constituencies would look more like this:

Constituency FF FG LB SF OTH
Carlow-Kilkenny 2 2 0 1 0
Cavan-Monaghan 1 1 0 2 0
Clare 1 2 0 0 1
Cork East 1 1 1 1 0
Cork North Central 1 1 0 2 0
Cork North West 1 1 0 1 0
Cork South Central 2 1 0 1 0
Cork South West 1 1 0 1 0
Donegal 1 1 0 3 0
Dublin Central 1 0 0 1 1
Dublin Mid West 0 1 1 2 0
Dublin Fingal 1 1 1 0 2
Dublin Bay North 1 1 0 1 2
Dublin North West 0 0 0 2 1
Dublin Rathdown 0 1 0 0 2
Dublin South Central 0 0 1 2 1
Dublin Bay South 0 1 0 1 2
Dublin South West 0 1 1 2 1
Dublin West 1 1 0 1 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 0 0 1
Galway East 1 1 0 0 1
Galway West 1 1 0 1 2
Kerry County 1 1 0 1 2
Kildare North 1 1 1 0 1
Kildare South 1 1 0 1 0
Laois 1 1 0 1 0
Offaly 1 1 0 0 1
Limerick City 1 2 0 1 0
Limerick 1 2 0 0 0
Longford-Westmeath 1 2 0 1 0
Louth 1 1 0 3 0
Mayo 1 2 0 1 0
Meath East 1 1 0 1 0
Meath West 1 1 0 1 0
Roscommon-Galway 0 1 0 0 2
Sligo-Leitrim 1 1 0 2 0
Tipperary 1 1 0 0 3
Waterford 1 1 0 1 1
Wexford 1 2 0 1 1
Wicklow 0 1 0 1 3
STATE 34 45 6 41 32
% Seats 21.5 28.5 3.8 25.9 20.3

Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 51 seats) would fall well short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats) while a potential Sinn Fein-Fianna Fail alliance (combined seat level of 75 seats) would come relatively close to this 79 seat target.  A Fine Gael and Sinn Fein pairing would have more than a sufficient number of seats (combined seat level of 86 seats) to command a majority in Dail Eireann, but such an alliance looks to be unlikely in the present political climate in any course. Based on these numbers, a potential Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government would be just about capable of mustering enough seats to form a two-party coalition without needing the support of a number of other Dail deputies (with a combined seat level of 79 seats). (This would assume that they could entice a Dail deputy from another party or grouping to take on the position of Ceann Comhairle.) Two-party coalitions appear to be more viable prospects based on this poll than in some of the polls from earlier in the year due to the relatively weaker showing (in support and seat estimates terms) in the September polls for the different groupings associated with the Independent and Others grouping. It is finally worth noting that a three party coalition involving Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Labour (combined seat level of 81) would have enough seats to command a bare majority in Dail Eireann.

On these seat estimates, the next Dail could look something like this:

Carlow-Kilkenny: John McGuinness FF, Jennifer Murnane O’Connor FF, John Paul Phelan FG, Pat Deering FG, Kathleen Funchion SF

Cavan-Monaghan: Brendan Smith FF, Heather Humphries FG, Caoimghin O Caolan SF, Kathryn Reilly SF

Clare: Timmy Dooley FF, Pat Breen FG, Joe Carey FG,  James Breen IND

Cork East: Kevin O’Keeffe FF, David Stanton FG, Sean Sherlock LAB, Sandra McLellan SF

Cork North Central: Billy Kelleher FF, Dara Murphy FG, Jonathan O’Brien SF, Thomas Gould SF

Cork North West: Michael Moynihan FF, Michael Creed FG, Des O’Grady SF

Cork South Central: Micheal Martin FF, Michael McGrath FF, Simon Coveney FG, Chris O’Leary SF

Cork South West: Joe Carroll FF, Jim Daly FG, Paul Hayes SG

Donegal: Charlie McConalogue FF, Joe McHugh FG, Pearse Doherty SF, Padraig MacLochlainn SF, Gary Doherty SF

Dublin Central: David Costello FF, Mary Lou McDonald SF, Maureen O’Sullivan IND

Dublin Mid West: Frances Fitzgerald FG, Joanna Tuffy LAB, Eoin O’Broin SF, Danny O’Brien SF

Dublin Fingal: Darragh O’Brien FF, James Reilly FG, Brendan Ryan LAB, David Healy GP, Clare Daly UL

Dublin Bay North: Averil Power FF, Richard Bruton FG, Larry O’Toole SF, Finian McGrath IND, Tommy Broughan IND

Dublin North West: Dessie Ellis SF, Emma Murphy SF, Roisin Shortall IND

Dublin Rathdown: Olivia Mitchell FG, Shane Ross IND, Deirdre Donnelly IND

Dublin South Central: Eric Byrne LAB, Aengus O Snodaigh SF, Daithi Doolan SF, Joan Collins UL

Dublin Bay South: Eoghan Murphy FG, Chris Andrews SF, Lucinda Creighton IND, Mannix Flynn IND

Dublin South West: Cait Keane FG, Pat Rabbitte LAB, Sean Crowe SF, Cathal King SF, Paul Murphy SP/AAA

Dublin West: David McGuinness FF, Leo Varadkar FG, Paul Donnelly SF, Ruth Coppinger SP

Dun Laoghaire: Kate Feeney FF, Sean Barrett FG, Mary Mitchell O’Connor FG, Richard Boyd Barrett PBP

Galway East: Michael Kitt FF, Paul Connaughton FG, Sean Canney IND

Galway West: Eamonn O Cuiv FF, Brian Walsh FG, Trevor O Clochartaigh SF, Noel Grealish IND, Catherine Connolly IND

Kerry: Norma Foley FF, Jimmy Deenihan FG, Martin Ferris SF, Michael Healy Rae IND, Tom Fleming IND

Kildare North: Naoise O Cearuil FF, Bernard Durkin FG, Emmet Stagg LAB, Catherine Murphy IND

Kildare South: Sean O Fearghaill FF, Martin Heydon FG, Thomas Redmond SF

Laois: Sean Fleming FF, Charlie Flanagan FG, Brian Stanley SF

Offaly: Barry Cowen FF, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy FG, John Leahy IND

Limerick City: Willie O’Dea FF, Michael Noonan FG, Kieran O’Donnell FG, Maurice Quinlivan SF

Limerick: Niall Collins FF, Dan Neville FG, Patrick O’Donovan FG

Longford-Westmeath: Robert Troy FF, James Bannon FG, Gabrielle McFadden FG, Paul Hogan SF

Louth: Liam Reilly FF, Fergus O’Dowd FG, Gerry Adams SF, Imelda Munster SF, Tomas Sharkey SF

Mayo: Dara Calleary FF, Enda Kenny FG, Michael Ring FG, Therese Ruane SF

Meath East: Thomas Byrne FF, Regina Doherty FG, Darren O’Rourke SF

Meath West: Shane Cassells FF, Damien English FG, Peadar Toibin SF

Roscommon-Galway: Frank Feighan FG, Denis Naughten IND, Tim Broderick IND

Sligo-Leitrim: Eamon Scanlon FF, John Perry FG, Michael Colreavy SF, Martin Kenny SF

Tipperary: Michael Smith FF, Tom Hayes FG, Michael Lowry IND, Mattie McGrath IND, Seamus Healy WUAG

Waterford: Adam Wyse FF, John Deasy FG, David Cullinane SF, John Halligan IND

Wexford: John Browne FF, Liam Twomey FG, Paul Kehoe FG, Anthony Kelly SF, Mick Wallace IND

Wicklow: Andrew Doyle FG, John Brady SF, Stephen Donnelly IND, Billy Timmins IND, Joe Behan IND

NB: This is by no means a scientific list! The inclusion, or non-inclusion, of people on this list by no means indicates that I think they would be the ones to take a party seat/nomination at the next general election – I am merely including some of the “likelier suspects” based on recent elections.  Sitting TDs (and the strongest of these, in 2011 General Election first preference vote terms) tend to be favoured when compiling this list. Where a TD has formally announced that they will not be contesting the next general election, they will not be included on this list, e.g. Joe Higgins (SP, Dublin West). In cases where there is no sitting TD, City/County Councillors and/or Senators (or recent local/general election candidates) will tend to be included here (and I will “try” to alternate between potential candidates up to a point in time when parties have actually finalised their candidate selections for specific constituencies). In short, where’s there’s no sitting TD or obvious candidate (i.e. someone who narrowly missed out on a seat in 2011 and followed this up with a strong performance in the May 2014 elections or election to the Seanad) I assign the “party” or “independent” seat by picking from the ranks of “likely suspects” based on most recent local election/general election results and “try” to alternate between these in different posts…

Given the improved support levels for Sinn Fein relative to the 2011 General Election, the seat estimates based on these constituency-level analyses suggest a significant improvement in that party’s seat levels relative to those won by the party at the 2011 contest (especially given that the fact that the eight fewer seats in the next Dail has been factored into this analysis), effectively pointing to significant gains on the part of the main Dail opposition parties since 2011. While Fianna Fail support levels in this poll are seen to be not especially higher than their 2011 support levels, the favourable changes made (in their perspective) in the 2012 Constituency Commssion report, in addition to the impact of the loss of support for the government parties, means that they would be winning ten, or more, extra seats if these support levels were to be replicated at the next general election. The same very applies very much to the Independents and Others grouping, but it is worth noting that, as opposed to the parties, the Independents and Others grouping is a very broad church and includes a range of parties, groups and individuals with very different ideological perspectives, including the Socialist Party and the People Before Profit alliance as well as left-leaning independents, but also politicians located in the centre-right of the political spectrum, including a significant number of Fianna Fail/Fine Gael-gene pool independents and people such as Shane Ross and Stephen Donnelly. Looking at the constituencies where this grouping is predicted to win seats in this model, it can be seen that left-leaning parties and independents would take at least 17 of the 32 seats being assigned to this grouping with the Irish Times-Ispos MRBI poll.

The seat level estimates in all of these analyses for the Labour Party are stark (highlighting the fact that the PR-STV system is proportional, but only to a limited extent), but most notably in the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll. Previous analyses have, moreover, suggested that, especially given the increased competition on the Left from Sinn Fein, other smaller left of centre parties and left-leaning independents, that it will be a struggle for Labour to win seats in most, if not all, constituencies if the party’s national support levels fall below the ten percent level, as has been shown in similar analyses of recent Sunday Independent-Millward Brown and Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI polls. Based on the analysis of this latest Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll and other polls covered in this post, Labour would be in serious trouble if their national support levels fall below ten percent as the party is also facing a “perfect storm” from electoral geography and changed competition levels. These factors include the reduction in Dail seat numbers (from 166 to 158) and other changes made to general election boundaries by the 2012 Constituency Commission (which militated against Labour while seeming to advantage other parties, but notably Fianna Fail) as well as the increased competition the party now faces on the Left from Sinn Fein, other smaller left-wing parties and left-of-centre independents, as well as from Fianna Fail. When Labour support levels fell to similarly low levels in the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, the party was in a position to be helped (as in the 1997, 2002 and 2007 General Elections) by transfers from lower placed candidates from the smaller left-wing parties. But on these constituency-estimate figures outlined in these analyses Labour Party candidates would find themselves polling below candidates from Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party, the Workers and Unemployed Action Group or the People Before Profit Alliance, or left-leaning independents, in a number of constituencies. Instead of being in a position to possibly benefit from vote transfers (which themselves would be likely to dry up in any case), the Labour candidates would now in a number of cases be eliminated before the final count and would be providing the transfers to see candidates from other left-of-centre political groupings over the line. (If we look at the 1987 case study – we see Labour won 6.5% of the vote in the 1987 General Election and won 12 seats, but it is also worth noting that they did not contest nine constituencies in that election, whereas their 7% national vote is being distributed across all forty constituencies in this analysis, as with the most recent general elections in which Labour has contested all constituencies. In two of the twelve constituencies in 1987 where Labour won seats – Dublin South-Central, Dublin South-West, Galway West and Wexford – vote transfers were crucial in ensuring Labour won these these seats – i.e. Labour candidates were outside the seat positions on the first count but overtook candidates with higher first preference votes as counts progressed due to transfers from other candidates.

Constituency FPV Total Poll Quota % FPV Lab/quota
Carlow-Kilkenny          7,358          57,485          9,581 12.80 0.77
Cork South-Central          4,862          56,259          9,377 8.64 0.52
Dublin South-Central          4,701          51,692          8,616 9.09 0.55
Dublin South-East          3,480          38,270          7,655 9.09 0.45
Dublin South-West          5,065          41,454          8,291 12.22 0.61
Dun Laoghaire          6,484          55,702          9,284 11.64 0.70
Galway West          3,878          52,762          8,794 7.35 0.44
Kerry North          6,739          34,764          8,692 19.38 0.78
Kildare          7,567          53,705          8,951 14.09 0.85
Louth          6,205          46,809          9,362 13.26 0.66
Wexford          5,086          52,922          8,821 9.61 0.58
Wicklow          7,754          46,003          9,201 16.86 0.84

Voting statistics for constituencies in which Labour won seats at the 1987 General Election. The table above shows that there was no constituency in 1987 in which a Labour candidate exceeded the quota and indeed successful Labour candidates, Ruairi Quinn and Michael D. Higgins won seats in their constituencies despite winning less than half of the quota in their first preference votes. In addition, Dick Spring came within a handful of votes of losing his seat in Kerry North.)

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About Adrian Kavanagh

Lecturer in Maynooth University Department of Geography.
This entry was posted in opinion polls and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mixed fortunes for the Opposition parties! Constituency-level analysis of the Irish Times-Ispos MRBI opinion poll (9th October 2014)

  1. Pingback: FF risking becoming the new SDLP? Might be too late to avert that outcome… | The Cedar Lounge Revolution

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