Menu

Poll of Polls suggests FG and Labour to fall just short

Feb 08 2016

The latest Poll of Polls suggests the Government parties are now estimated to win 70 seats, still short of a majority, but not so far away, writes Michael Marsh, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin.

The latest Poll of Polls suggests the Government parties are now estimated to win 70 seats, still short of a majority, but not so far away, writes Michael Marsh, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin.

This second major Poll of Polls update incorporates the recent B&A and RED C polls published on the weekend of 6/7 February and takes account of the IPSOS mrbi poll published on 4 February.

In essence this shows us where we were at the start of the campaign proper since all polls were carried out before the first day of proper campaigning on last Thursday.

The subgroup tables below are weighted to the most recent Poll of Polls figure and this time include all polls since 1 December. [More extensive details of this Poll of Polls methodology can be found in the initial Poll of Polls report.]

Last week’s polls resulted in little change to the overall Poll of Polls figures but this time I have included information on some of the smaller parties making up the Others grouping.

Polls over the last two months have sought to identify support for these parties and there are now sufficient polls for us to be able to make a worthwhile estimate of their strength.

I have also included them in seat estimates and will continue to do so now. This may be interesting in its own right, but including several small parties also provides more realistic estimates for the Others group as a whole, and so for the main four parties.

The technique here is the same as that used for the estimates in earlier versions of this Poll of Polls with one additional factor: the number of candidates a ‘party’ runs divided by the vote achieved, or the current poll figure.  

The government parties are now estimated to win 70 seats, still short of a majority, but not so far away. And there are, or were, three weeks of campaigning to go before the vote, counting from the date of the last poll.   

The ‘margin of error’ on these seat estimates is roughly plus or minus 2 seats.

Using the same technique to predict past election outcomes (back to 1981)  gives very accurate results. Almost all real outcomes are within this band, but there are a few very significant exceptions, most notably FG and FF in 2011, both very big outliers from the usual pattern of proportionality.

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 subnational variations in party support: where is each party strong, or weak, and who tends to support them?

The tables below examine these subnational 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 are more reliable.

This time I have used more polls – all those over the last two months with the exception of the recent MRBI poll which is not currently available.

Essentially, these tables show averages across polls, but with a further correction to make the overall distribution of party support in each poll conform to the 8 February Poll of Polls figures.

[This 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

CONN          

ULSTER

FF

12[-1]

20[-]

21[+2]

24[+5]

FG

29[-1]

30[-7]

29[-9]

33[-7]

LABOUR

12[-17]

8[-11]

8[-11]

3[-6]

SF

17[+9]

20[+10]

17[+9]

17[+2]

Others

30[+10]

22[+8]

24[+7]

22[+6]

N=6471. Change measured against actual results.

I have added in this update an indication of the change in support in each region since the 2011 election. In general, the pattern in each region reflects the changes from the last election indicated in national poll figures.

However, Fine Gael’s support seems to be holding up better in Dublin than elsewhere, at the expense of Labour, while Connacht/Ulster shows the least change.

FF won only one seat in Dublin in 2011 with 13% of the vote: Labour and FF will hope to do much better than that time with the 12% they now seem to have, and will be helped by the exceptional fragmentation of party support in that region.  

Munster actually shows the most volatility here, which is counter to the normal pattern of change being greater in Dublin.  

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

16

17

18

21

26

FG

37

30

27

24

51

LABOUR

12

10

7

7

5

SF

10

16

25

22

5

Others

25

27

24

26

13

N=6471.

Labour’s support seems to be holding up better among the middle classes but FG is the most popular party in all categories, and in the AB category – the better off middle classes – gets as much support as Labour, FF and SF combined.   

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

16

16

17

22

24

FG

25

27

29

33

27

36

LABOUR

8

8

9

7

10

8

SF

27

24

18

17

15

9

Others

22

25

28

26

25

23

N=6179: Change measured by reference to all polls during 2011 campaign 

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

As we might expect, the old parties are more popular among older voters, with FG, FF and Labour combined neck and neck with SF and Others with voters under 35.

Even so, the old system is showing some strain in all age groups with one in three of those over 65 turning against those parties who would have won more than four out of every five votes cast when most of those voters went to the ballot box first in the 1960s, or a little earlier. 


By Michael Marsh, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin


Previous Poll of Poll Updates

19 January: No appreciable change

30 January: FG, Labour continue to rise

4 February: Has the rise in Fine Gael's fortunes been halted?