What do the polls say now?

Monday 25 January 2016 09.44
Latest opinion polls show little difference from those taken a month ago
Latest opinion polls show little difference from those taken a month ago

As new polls are published, our Poll of Polls analysis will be updated.

This first update incorporates the B&A and RED C polls published on 17 January.

The subgroup tables are weighted to the most recent Poll of Polls figure and include just the most recent set of results from each of these two companies as well as from Millward Brown and IPSOS MRBI.

More extensive details of this Poll of Polls methodology can be found in the initial Poll of Polls report.

Loose change

Despite some of the headlines at the weekend, when we take the latest poll results in a wider polling context we see there is really no appreciable change since mid December, writes Michael Marsh, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin.

However, these two polls cement Fine Gael’s recovery, giving the party 31%; underline the close battle between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, in second place at 19% each; and leave Labour still on 8%; while 23% opt for independents or other parties.

Table 1 Poll of Polls: 17 January 2015

Combining polls in this way clarifies the real trends that the natural variation between polls often obscures.

Combining polls is also helpful when we want to look at the sub-national variations in party support: where is each party strong, or weak, and who tends to support them.

The tables below examine these sub-national variations, in terms of region, social class and age.

In any one poll the number of people in each subgroup is very small, but by combining polls the sample size is much larger and so data provided is more reliable.

Essentially, these tables show averages across polls, but following a further correction to make the overall distribution of party support in each poll conform to the early January Poll of Polls figures.

I have combined here only the most recent poll from each company, but if all polls over the past two months are included the pattern is essentially the same.

This updated subgroup analysis is facilitated by the cooperation of the pollsters mentioned above and the companies who sponsor those studies – The Sunday Times, The Irish Times, Independent Newspapers, Sunday Business Post and Paddy Power – and we are most grateful to them for making their data readily available.

Table 2 Regional support: using most recent poll from each company but weighted to most recent Poll of Polls party averages.

 

DUBLIN

LEINSTER
EXCL. DUBLIN

MUNSTER

CONNACHT
ULSTER

FF

13

20

21

26

FG

34

29

29

36

Labour

11

7

8

3

SF

16

22

20

17

Others

26

22

23

18

N=2541

Table 3 Class support: using most recent poll from each company but weighted to most recent Poll of Polls party averages.

Class:

AB

C1

C2

DE

Farmers

FF

18

17

19

21

23

FG

39

35

28

23

51

Labour

11

10

6

6

6

SF

8

17

26

24

6

Others

24

21

22

27

14

N=2541

Table 4 Support by age: using most recent poll from each company but weighted to most recent Poll of Polls party averages.

Age:

18-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65+

FF

19

17

16

18

25

23

FG

23

31

31

35

24

40

Labour

8

7

10

6

9

7

SF

28

24

21

19

16

9

Others

22

22

21

23

27

21

N=2026 

(Note: 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 categories exclude IPSOS MRBI data that has different age divisions.)

Finally, what does this pattern of party support mean for the composition of the next Dáil?

In any Irish election there is a strong correspondence between votes won and seats obtained, but in many elections there are surprises: Fine Gael won a lot more seats than votes in 2011, and Fianna Fáil won a lot fewer.

Fine Gael also did badly in 2002. To predict seats this time I have estimated the proportion of seats that has been won on average by a party winning a particular proportion of votes since 1981. (This estimate was made using OLS regression, with vote share expressed as a third order polynomial, a dummy variable for Labour and no constant term.)

There are almost no systematic differences between parties here, but Labour has tended to exceed its due share and I have made allowance for that.

On the basis of the estimate for early January from the Poll of Polls, expected seat shares are shown.

Again, these estimates do not allow for Fine Gael getting the sort of bonus it won in 2011, nor does it allow for independents and others failing to translate votes into seats if support transfers out of the group.

Either, or both, of these outcomes are more than possible in the particular conditions of 2016.


By Michael Marsh, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin