• -
  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 28, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

    Last time that Fianna Fail was at 26 per cent

    Harry McGee

    Ok, let’s throw in the large cartload of salt about opinion polls and accuracy. We’ll proceed on the basis that the latest gives a true and accurate picture of the voting intentions of the public as of now.

    And also note that even during Haughey’s worst periods when the party seemed to be tearing itself apart Fianna Fail never dropped so low in public opinion.

    Here are some juicy comparison. Thanks to Tom Felle, former political journalist now an academic for passing them on via Carl O’Brien.

    “Fianna Fail last attained 26.1 per cent of the vote in the June 1927 election. Fine Gael (then of course Cumann na nGael) did only marginally better, with 27.5 per cent, yet took power.
    That was the last time the Soldiers of Destiny saw a poll result in the 20s.

    (In 1923 Dev got a similar percentage, but then of course it was Sinn Fein as Fianna Fail didn’t exist.)

    To put the growth of FF in context, by 1932 their vote had increased to 44pc, and remained in the 40s at every subsequent election for 60 years. Dev’s highest ever vote was 48pc in 1957, but Jack was the only ever FF leader to actually get a majority percentage vote, with 50.6pc in the famous 1977 landslide. CJ came close in Feb 82 with 47.3pc.

    Albert dropped to 39.1pc in 1992 and Bert came in at a pretty similar number in 1997, though he increased seats by 10. Bert brought it back up to 41pc in 2002 and it held steady in 2007.

    So you see what all the fuss is about when a poll suggests they are down to 26pc – even if it is just one poll it’s still pretty explosive.”

    That figure is indeed extraordinary. We talk about Fianna Fail’s core vote in the same way that Karl Rove talked about energisign the ‘base’ in America. That core – which votes FF no matter what – is always said to be a little over 30 percent.

    It’s clear that the evidence from this poll suggests that, for once, pensioners (in their droves) were moved to switch allegiance away from FF over the medical cards issues.

    It will be interesting to see if this is a once-off or if the controversy and rumpus will have a long-term effect.

    • paul m says:

      Once off. Unsurprising for FF to backtrack on the only issue that will affect its blindly loyal ‘grey’ support and steamroll the rest through on issues that only affect the youth/swing vote. The future electorate certainly won’t get the same level of respect from FF.

      Those protesting the medical cards are responsible for the core of unquestioned “well my mammy voted for them, so so will I” FF support in this country, that put us through years of mismanagement of our once-prosperous nation. Even when the Party is making an arse of the economic windfall as long as you don’t upset the loyal supporters’ applecart then all’s good (as long as the youth isn’t bothered to vote).

      The Party medical card brigade will be wooed over by the next teflon-esque cute whore who puts himself forward for the Taoiseach’s job, after Cowen’s mopped up the mess with his career.

      However the one thing FF fail to realise is their unwavering support is a dying breed. With the Lisbon debacle they got a taste of things to come. Many of us who will have to put up with and grow up (and old) in the mess they’ve left will be the ones ticking the boxes over the next few years. That’s the real elephant in the room for the Government. And elephants never forget.

      Roll on the elections, heads will roll!

    • Harry says:

      I agree that FF will recover a lot of its core at the next opinion poll. One of the things that surprised me in 2007 was the large youth vote that went the FF way. Younger voters had come into adulthood in a prosperous country and rewarded the only party they knew in Government.
      The chill winds of change may test that loyalty. Why do the words ‘swing’ and ”fickle’ spring to mind?

    • Des FitzGerald says:

      This is the first time an entire generation of young Irish people have ever had to face the reality of not being able to click their manicured fingers and have what they want brought to them, so I think those who bothered to vote last time, and voted FF, did so without giving it much thought. Next time when they are on the dole or fighting off credit agencies chasing them for missing loan repayments they’ll think long and hard about who to vote for, if they even bother to vote that is. It’s unlikely they’ll pick FF again.

      Which means the next election is for FG and Lab to lose – again. The very fact that older and middle-aged people, who do actually vote, said they would not vote FF, even if just at a point in time, means there is a window of opportunity for FG and Lab to re-educate that 5% (plus or minus) that it is actually their continual vote for FF that got Ireland into this mess – just as in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

      I know it won’t be easy for FG/Lab to make this argument as most people have the attention-span of a goldfish but we all have experience of elderly parents or of children and schools and we all know of the constant effort it takes to get public services.

      If FG/Lab can tap into that and provide a convincing plan that it has the solution, then it will romp home next time.

      Time will tell.

Search Politics