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Slight gains for Fianna Fáil & Sinn Féin in latest Poll of Polls

Feb 12 2016

Today's first campaign poll has no effect on the combined seats for the government parties though does increase marginally seats for FF and SF.  The government parties are still estimated to win 70 seats, still short of a majority.

Today’s first campaign poll has no effect on the combined seats for the government parties though does increase marginally seats for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.  The government parties are still estimated to win 70 seats, still short of a majority, writes Michael Marsh, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin.

This latest update incorporates the Paddy Power RED C poll published on 10 February for which polling was done in the first few days after the election was called.

The subgroup tables below include this poll as well as data from the Millward Brown Sunday Independent poll published on 7 February and the IPSOS mrbi Irish Times poll published on 4 February.

These subgroup tables below are again weighted to the most recent Poll of Polls figure and data this time comes from all polls taken in 2016. [More extensive details of this Poll of Polls methodology can be found in the initial Poll of Polls report.]

The prediction of seats is done on the basis of these national poll figures. Taking the period since 1981 I have simply estimated the typical share of the seats won by a party with a given share of the national vote.

The estimation allows for bigger parties to get a bonus and smaller parties to underperform. In fact, parties with more than about 20% of the votes tend to win more than that in terms of their share of seats, and those below 20% tend to win a smaller share of seats than votes.

I also allow a small seat bonus for running large numbers of candidates relative to the vote they are expected to win to Labour, as that has tended to happen, and a small adjustment for parties running.

As explained before, the ‘margin of error’ on these seat estimates is roughly plus or minus two seats.

Using the same technique to predict past election outcomes (back to 1981) gives very accurate results. Almost all real outcomes were 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 recent polls – all those this year. 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 10 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

11[-2]

21[+1]

22[+3]

22[+3]

FG

27[-3]

30[-7]

30[-8]

32[-8]

LABOUR

12[-17]

8[-11]

7[-12]

5[-4]

SF

18[+10]

19[+10]

18[+10]

16[+1]

Others

32[+12]

21[+7]

22[+7]

25[+9]

N=5819. Change measured against actual results.

I have again included 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: FF and Labour will hope to do much better than that with the 11% and 12% respectively that they now have, and will be helped by the exceptional fragmentation of party support in that region.

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

18

17

21

21

FG

36

28

25

25

43

LABOUR

11

9

7

7

7

SF

11

17

25

21

9

Others

24

28

26

26

19

N=5819.

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 almost 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

14

16

17

22

26

FG

26

27

28

30

28

35

LABOUR

7

8

9

7

10

7

SF

27

25

18

17

14

10

Others

22

24

29

27

26

23

N=5289. 

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 voters over 55, 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?

8 February: Poll of Polls suggests FG and Labour to fall just short