Adrian Kavanagh, 19th April 2018
As the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2017 was officially passed into law just before Christmas 2017, the new Constituency Commission electoral boundaries are now used as the basis for the analysis. The translation of 2016 support figures onto these new constituency units is not a perfect one, alas, given the lack of tally figures in some cases (e.g. Laois, Offaly and Kildare constituencies) or the lack of time to carry out the necessary background analyses in other cases (e.g. constituencies in the West and North West). Where it has been possible to take account of tally figures, the constituency support estimates are based on the votes cast in the new constituency units in those cases.
The early opinion polls in 2018 offered very good news for Fine Gael. The party has dropped back somewhat in the more recent polls, but it still remains the strongest party in the state by a distance of a number of percentage points over Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Furthermore, the combined vote Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil vote share across all of these polls has generally averaged out around, or higher than, the 60% level. This, admittedly, represents a lower support level than the combined vote levels commanded by these parties before the onset of the Economic Crisis in 2008, but these poll figures seem to mark another stage in the recovery of the “Civil War” parties, given that the two parties won less than half of the votes cast nationally at the 2016 General Election. Is the old “Civil War” politics model on the way back? Maybe, maybe not… However, it must be noted that when the other “Civil War” party, Sinn Fein, is factored in the combined support levels for the “Civil War parties” comes in at just under 80% in the latest Irish Times-Ipsos MRBI poll – up by around fifteen percent on the combined support levels won by these parties at the 2016 election. As the larger parties advance, the smaller parties and Independents all fall back, while the Labour Party support levels have tended to remain lower (especially in certain polls) than the already very low levels of support won by that party at the 2016 contest. Continue reading