In one of the soundbite moments of the last few weeks Michael D Higgins told his critics that he's been turning up since 1969.

Now this exit poll, which measures his support at 58.1%, suggests that he will be turning up for seven more years.

It would cap a remarkable political career that first saw him take a seat in the upper house of the Oireachtas more than 45 years ago.

It was a campaign dominated by questions about expenditure in Áras an Uachtaráin and criticism of Michael D Higgins' failure to participate in all the debates during the contest.

Yet it seems this did not have a significant adverse effect on the incumbent's popularity. 

He now looks on course to be returned to the office at the head of the Oireachtas where he faces some key challenges in the period ahead.

The most intricate of which could be striking the correct tone around the Civil War commemorations.

It's a subject Michael D Higgins has already spoken at length about.

Indeed, when he was warming up to make a pitch for a second term, something he had said in 2011 that he would not seek, he flagged his own family's experience on both sides of the Civil War divide.

There will be other tasks too that will require all the subtle skills of diplomacy, most notably the possible visit here of US President Donald Trump.

Around Brexit too there will be a considerable amount of work to be done in soothing relations between this country and Britain amid the anticipated tumultuous time ahead.

For many though looking at the present moment the most striking figure of this exit poll is the support that Peter Casey appears to have garnered.

At an estimated 20.7% support the independent candidate looks to have surpassed the expectations of many.

Although there was anecdotal evidence aplenty to suggest that his messages were resonating with an increasing number of voters over the last ten days.

He approached this campaign in a manner that had not been witnessed in any previous presidential contest.

In particular his comments about Travellers sparked controversy and drew no little criticism.

In a development certain to cause unease politically his refusal to back down appears to have chimed with a not inconsiderable portion of the electorate.

The question now is what Peter Casey's future political plans are?

For Sinn Féin this has been a poor showing judging by these exit poll findings where the party's candidate is on 7.4% support.

Liadh Ní Riada may fall well short of reaching the 13.7% of the vote that Martin McGuinness recorded in 2011.

There is also the possible failure of hitting the 12.5% support mark to recoup election expenses.

It won't be forgotten either this was the new party leader Mary Lou McDonald's first election at the helm.

It was billed by many as an opportunity to expand the party's brand as part of a potentially positive election campaign.

Sinn Féin too was the party that pushed for this election but it may have proved anything but beneficial for it.

On 6.3% in this poll, the Independent candidate Joan Freeman emerges from this campaign largely unscathed, but with little gain either.

The €120,000 loan provided to her by a US businessman, whose company was fined amid allegations of pyramid selling, raised questions about her judgement.

It was a controversy that seemed to stall any early momentum that may have come her way.

For many weeks during the summer Seán Gallagher maintained an air of mystery about his plans to contest this election for a second time.

Then a seamless nomination from four local authorities followed soon after he declared his hand.

However, the man whose campaign about creating employment was perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the times in 2011, never recaptured the same energy this time.

Gavin Duffy’s campaign never really caught the public imagination.