Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit Target Constituencies for the next General Election

Adrian Kavanagh, 3rd June 2016

The earlier posts in this series have tried to identify potential target constituencies for the Green Party, for the Labour Party, for Sinn Fein, for Fianna Fail and for Fine Gael at the next general election based on an analysis of the 2016 General Election constituency figures. All of these parties, except for Labour, contested each one of the 40 Dail constituencies at the February 2016 elections – the Labour Party contested only 34 of these 40 constituencies. This post will look at the next largest of the political parties that contested the February 2016 General Election, namely Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit. Six Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates won seats at the February 26th contest, with 31 candidates in total contesting the election. None of the unsuccessful Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates were runners-up in the 21 constituencies that they failed to win seats in, but some of these candidates did come relatively close to winning seats. So how large/narrow was the margin between success and defeat in the constituencies that Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates missed out on seats by?     

It is worth noting that some of the seats that the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit grouping holds at the moment remain highly marginal – especially Dublin South-Central – and a drop in the party’s national support level at the next general election contest would probably mean that one, or both, of these seats would be lost. If one 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 Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 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 Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 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)).

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 Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates at the next general election (assuming a new set of election boundaries are passed into law before the next election takes place). As a classic example of a smaller party, an increase in seat numbers in constituencies located within the party’s traditionally stronger areas (i.e. working class urban areas) could significantly improve Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit’s chances of making gains. However, a reduction in seat levels in such constituencies could significantly reduce the potential of Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit seat gains.

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 Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 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 Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidate and the lowest placed of the successful candidates and then calculate this as a percentage of the total valid poll for that constituency. In all of these cases, the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidate was eliminated at an earlier count (i.e. before the last count) and hence the number of votes the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 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. I also estimate the percentage of the total valid poll that was held by the unsuccessful Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 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 Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit’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. Limerick City – 0.6% gain required (Prendiville stood on 14.4% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  2. Dublin Bay North – 0.8% gain required (Lyons stood on 11.5% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  3. Louth – 2.9% gain required (Weldon stood on 9.3% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  4. Dublin South-West – 3.4% gain required (Fay stood on 5.7% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  5. Dublin Fingal – 5.1% gain required (Kelleher stood on 3.7% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  6. Cork East– 5.2% gain required (Roche stood on 6.1% of the TVP when she was eliminated )
  7. Dublin Central – 5.4% gain required (O’Dwyer stood on 3.8% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  8. Galway West – 6.1% gain required (Holohan stood on 1.7% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  9. Carlow-Kilkenny – 6.1% gain required (Wallace stood on 3.3% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  10. Dublin Bay South – 6.4% gain required (Mooney stood on 5.4% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  11. Dublin North-West – 7.0% gain required (Keegan stood on 6.8% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  12. Longford-Westmeath – 7.9% gain required (Parker stood on 1.1% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  13. Wicklow– 9.4% gain required (Briggs stood on 3.2% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  14. Wexford – 9.8% gain required (Wadding stood on 2.6% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  15. Kerry– 9.8% gain required (Finucane stood on 1.8% of the TVP when he was eliminated on the final count)
  16. Cork South-Central – 10.8% gain required (Ryan stood on 3.4% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  17. Kildare North – 11.4% gain required (Merriman stood on 1.9% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  18. Mayo – 12.1% gain required (Moran stood on 1.0% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  19. Waterford – 13.2% gain required (Dunphy stood on 3.6% of the TVP when she was eliminated)
  20. Sligo-Leitrim – 15.4% gain required (Gallagher stood on 3.3% of the TVP when he was eliminated)
  21. Roscommon-Galway – 18.2% gain required (Conroy stood on 2.6% of the TVP when he was eliminated)

Here it can be seen that there are two constituencies where even a very small swing to Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit would probably be sufficient to result in seat gains for that party; Limerick City and Dublin Bay North. There are a few other constituencies where a relatively larger swing to the party would make them very competitive in the contest for seats/ It is, however, worth noting that the extent of the gains – or indeed losses – made by a party, such as Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit, can vary notably between constituencies. It may well be the case that a relatively small gain in terms of national support levels could be translated into larger gains in a small number of constituencies, which could render Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit as being much more competitive in some of these constituencies.

Constituency size is also a factor here. Even though Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates may have stood at higher levels of support on their elimination in some three-seat or four-seat constituencies (for example, Dublin North-West), the analysis suggests that Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 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. Variations in party/candidate competition levels between constituencies also need to be factored in here. The extent of the gains required tends to be higher in constituencies where the seats were filled by a group of candidates who were notably stronger than the other contenders. Thus, three-seat constituencies such as Roscommon-Galway, which were largely dominated by the three successful candidates, tend to be located towards the end of the ranking here, even though the Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates in these constituencies fared relatively well as compared to Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates in other constituencies. By contrast, very competitive five-seat constituencies, which featured a number of relatively strong candidates and relatively few candidates who exceeded, or came close to exceeding, the quota on the first count, tend to be located higher up the ranking.

This means that – given that Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit support levels were relatively low when compared with those of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein, as well as Labour – the model used here may not be especially effective in this particular case. (Although it is probably more useful in this context than it was in the previous study of potential Green Party seat gains). To some extent, it could be argued that the percentage of the total valid poll that Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates stood on at their elimination may act as a more effective indicator of potential seat gains. If this was to be used as the basis for detecting potential Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit seat gains, then the constituencies that would be ranked the highest would be (in order):

  1. Limerick City
  2. Dublin Bay North
  3. Louth
  4. Dublin North-West
  5. Cork East
  6. Dublin South-West
  7. Dublin Bay South
  8. Dublin Central
  9. Dublin Fingal
  10. Waterford

The first three constituencies listed here are ranked in exactly the same order as the model ranks them, suggesting that the model does have some relevance in relation to the stronger Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit constituencies. Divergences from the model, however, become more evident further down these rankings. Dublin North-West, for instance, is ranked fourth here, where the model only ranks this as the 11th most likely seat gain for Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit.

And it is worth noting that the first seven constituencies listed here are constituencies where an Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidate was either over five percent of the total valid poll on their elimination, suggesting that there is a basis in these constituencies, in terms of potential Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit support levels, for Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidates to challenge for seats at future general elections, especially if some work can be done in the interim period to build up the local party organisation and to prepare for a strong performance at the 2019 Local Elections.

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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.

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