Fianna Fail Target Constituencies for the next General Election

Adrian Kavanagh, 31st May 2016

Following on earlier posts, which tried to identify potential target constituencies for the Labour Party, for Sinn Fein and for Fine Gael at the next general election based on an analysis of the 2016 General Election constituency figures, this post will involve a similar analysis for Fianna Fail. Fianna Fail candidates were runners-up in 6 of the 40 constituencies at the 2016 election, while other party candidates also came very close to winning seats in some other constituencies. But how large – or how narrow – was the margin between success and defeat in the constituencies that Fianna Fail candidates missed out on seats by?     

It is worth noting that some of the seats that Fianna Fail hold at the moment remain highly marginal and a drop in the party’s national support level at the next general election contest would probably mean that a number of seat losses would ensue. If some of the party’s current group of TDs decide to step down ahead of a future general election contest (or defect to another party or to the independent ranks), this could see Fianna Fail losing out on a seat in the relevant constituency, even if the party’s national support levels remain as they are, or improve slightly. On the other hand, should the new government remain in power for longer than a three-year term in office, the 2019 Local Elections could offer a strong basis for Fianna Fail to “blood” – or further “blood” – new election candidates, as the 2014 elections already did in the case of that party, as well as number of other Opposition parties and groupings (and, indeed, some Fine Gael candidates, such as Noel Rock (Dublin North-West)). The successful Seanad election campaigns for some potential Fianna Fail general election candidates may also give a boost to the party’s chances in some of these marginal constituencies. With provisional population figures likely to be released in the coming weeks following Census 2016, a new Constituency Commission will soon be established. It might well be the case that boundary changes in a subsequent Constituency Commission report could work in favour of/against the chances of Fianna Fail candidates at the next general election (assuming a new set of election boundaries are passed into law before the next election takes place).

These preliminaries having been concluded, it now time to try and identify the party’s potential target constituencies, based on an analysis of election count figures for the 2016 General Election. In this analysis, I estimate what percentage of the vote in a constituency that Fianna Fail need to gain in order to gain a seat in that constituency. In doing so, in most cases I calculate the gap that existed between the unsuccessful Fianna Fail candidate and the lowest placed of the successful candidates and then calculate this as a percentage of the total valid poll for that constituency. (Where two, or more, Fianna Fail candidates missed out on seat in a constituency – as in the cases of Clare, Galway West and Tipperary – I simply focus on the stronger of the Fianna Fail candidates.) In cases where the Fianna Fail candidate was eliminated at an earlier count (before the last count), the number of votes the Fianna Fail candidate held on their elimination is related to the number of votes that the lowest placed of the successful candidates held on that particular count. However, if this candidate also had a running mate left in the race at the point in time that the Fianna Fail candidate was eliminated, then the votes of the next lowest of the successful candidates are considered instead (unless this was in excess of the combined number of votes held by the lowest successful candidate and her/his running mate). I also estimate the percentage of the total valid poll that was held by the unsuccessful Fianna Fail candidate on the final count, or on the count that they were eliminated on if they did not survive until the final count.

So, having made these preliminary clarifications, based on this analysis it can be claimed that Fianna Fail’s target constituencies would be as follows: (Note that the percentage figures referred to here are percentages of the total valid poll for that constituency.)

  1. Dun Laoghaire – This four-seat constituency was effectively a three-seat constituency at the February 2016 election due to the automatic re-election of the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett. Barring constituency boundary/seat-allocation changes arising from the next Constituency Commission report, this constituency should revert back to being effectively a four-seat constituency at the next general election. Had all four seats been contested in Dun Laoghaire, the fourth/final seat would have been won by Fianna Fail’s Mary Hanafin. If this constituency was to be a three-seat constituency at the next general election, then Fianna Fail would require a 6.7% gain here (Hanafin stood on 19.4% of the TVP when she was eliminated on the final count).
  2. Dublin South-Central – 0.08% gain required (Ardagh stood on 18.3% of the TVP when she was eliminated on the final count)
  3. Offaly – 0.4% gain required (Fitzpatrick stood on 19.8% of the TVP when he was eliminated on the final count)
  4. Dublin North-West – 1.8% gain required (McAuliffe stood on 18.7% of the TVP when he was eliminated on the final count)
  5. Wexford – 2.1% gain required (Byrne stood on 10.3% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  6. Carlow-Kilkenny – 2.3% gain required (Murnane O’Connor stood on 13.6% of the TVP when she was eliminated on the final count)
  7. Tipperary – 3.3% gain required (Smith stood on 11.7% of the TVP when he was eliminated )
  8. Cork East – 3.5% gain required (Ahern stood on 12.8% of the TVP when she was eliminated on the final count)
  9. Clare – 3.8% gain required (McDonagh stood on 13.6% of the TVP when he was eliminated on the final count)
  10. Dublin Fingal – 3.8% gain required (Clifford stood on 9.3% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  11. Dublin Rathdown – 4.4% gain required (White stood on 13.3% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  12. Louth – 4.7% gain required (Coffey stood on 5.7% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  13. Galway West – 5.1% gain required (Connolly stood on 8.7% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  14. Dublin Bay North – 5.8% gain required (Heney stood on 5.4% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  15. Dublin Central – 6.3% gain required (Fitzpatrick stood on 12.6% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  16. Wicklow – 6.4% gain required (Cuffe stood on 5.2% of the TVP when he was eliminated on the final count)
  17. Longford-Westmeath – 7.6% gain required (Gerrety-Quinn stood on 10.7% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  18. Cork North-Central – 7.8% gain required (Kelleher’s surplus – following his election on the first count – was equivalent to 7.9% of the TVP)
  19. Limerick City – 9.8% gain required (O’Dea’s surplus – following his election on the first count – was equivalent to 7.8% of the TVP)
  20. Kerry – 10.7% gain required (Moriarty stood on 6.8% of the TVP when she was eliminated on the final count)
  21. Cork South-Central – 11.0% gain required (The Martin/McGrath surpluses – following their election on the first count – were equivalent to 1.6% of the TVP)
  22. Laois – 11.2% gain required (Fleming’s surplus – following his election on the first count – was equivalent to 10.1% of the TVP)
  23. Galway East – 14.3% gain required (Keaveney stood on 14.8% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  24. Meath East – 15.4% gain required (Byrne’s surplus – following his election on the second count – was equivalent to 1.1% of the TVP)
  25. Limerick – 15.4% gain required (Collins’ surplus – following his election on the first count – was equivalent to 2.6% of the TVP)
  26. Waterford – 15.6% gain required (Butler’s surplus – following her election on the first count – was equivalent to 0.5% of the TVP)
  27. Meath West – 22.0% gain required (Cassells’ surplus – following his election on the first count – was equivalent to 2.4% of the TVP)
  28. Cavan-Monaghan – 24.4% gain required (Durkan stood on 5.4% of the TVP when he was eliminated (but his running mates, Smith and Smyth, were not elected at this point in the count also))
  29. Roscommon-Galway – 29.8% gain required (Curran stood on 5.0% of the TVP when he was eliminated (but his running mate, Murphy, was not elected at this point in the count also))

Here it can be seen that there are a number of constituencies where a relatively small swing to Fianna Fail could see the party making a number of seat gains. For instance, if the party was to gain 5%, or less, in the twelve highest ranked constituencies here, the analysis suggests that Fianna Fail could be well placed to make gains in those constituencies. On the other hand, the analysis shows that Fianna Fail face more notable challenges in other constituencies in terms of potentially challenging for seat gains in these constituencies at a future general election. It is, however, worth noting that the extent of the gains – or indeed losses – made by a party, such as Fianna Fail, can vary notably between constituencies.

Constituency size is also a factor here. Even though Fianna Fail candidates may have stood at higher levels of support on their elimination in some three-seat or four-seat constituencies, the analysis suggests that Fianna Fail candidates in the five-seat constituencies stand at somewhat of an advantage to the other candidates as the percentage share of vote required to make the quota in these constituencies is lower than that for three-seat or four-seat constituencies.

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About Adrian Kavanagh

Lecturer in Maynooth University Department of Geography.
This entry was posted in Election data, General Election, Target constituencies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fianna Fail Target Constituencies for the next General Election

  1. Pingback: Green Party Target Constituencies for the next General Election | Irish Elections: Geography, Facts and Analyses

  2. Pingback: Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit Target Constituencies for the next General Election | Irish Elections: Geography, Facts and Analyses

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