Irish Times poll on Lisbon – mind the gap!
The gap is closing. But as last year, it’s in which direction the don’t knows jumpthat will determine this referendum.
Some 46 per cent backing the treaty isn’t where the Yes camp thought they would be at this stage of the game. The only consolation that they can take from the eight point drop in support is that it has not migrated to the No camp but rather into the Don’t Know group. But the experience of last year will show us that even though there is a 17 per cent gap between Yes and No, which is at 29 per cent, that gap is not insuperable.
In his front page story this morning Stephen Collins notes:
“In the Irish Times poll at a similar stage in the first Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign, 35 per cent said they would vote Yes, 18 per cent said No and 47 per cent said Don’t Know.”
What happened after that was that the Yes campaign hit the doldrums as its lacklustre campaign failed to deal with people’s confusion about what the treaty was about and about their fears about possible changes that would occur in Irish life as a result. And the don’t knows herded in mass over the No side.
Why I think it’s differerent now: This time, the clarity (whatever its quality) on issues, will appease some of those who voted No last year. I don’t think the ‘if you don’t know, vote no’ argument will have the same purchase with people. I also think that the prevailing economic situation will benefit the Yes side. The Yes campaign was just a mess last year. The parties just didn’t bother and the Yes message was disjointed an confused. This time it will be different. The message is more focused. The campaigning will be more intense. They will be far quicker to attack claims being made by the No side.
That’s why I believe that the yeahs will (just about) have it.
The Cóir campaging has cynicism written all over it. Lucinda Creighton had an apt word to describe it yesterday, “nitpick”. She said thsat now that assurances have been given on the Commisisoner, tax, abortion etc, the No camp have scoured the treaty document looking for a whole new set of issues to nitpick over. That includes an alarmist claim about the minimum wage about which the comrades in Cóir have become exercised. And while we are at it. The SIPTU endorsement of the campaign yesterday was tedious read (written in homage to the ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’ genre). It essentially damned the treaty with faint praise. In essence, the union said it would endorse the treaty but only because the Labour Party hasundertaken to ensure that workers’ rights are protected, once it returns to power.
The two flaws in that argument are:
1. The union has rejected the Treaty as it stands. That is the reality. But it shies away from saying that. It’s Yes is wholly conditional on the Labour Party returning to Government, and also on Labour having the influence on its coalition partner to make the necessary changes.
2. It makes the assumption there will be an early change of Government. I don’t think this coalition will run its full course. But equally, there won’t be an election for at least another year, in my opinion.
A classic sitting-on-the-fence document. It’s hardly exhorting its members to go out and campaign for a Yes vote or a No vote. It’s saying, lads, we are hedging our bets and saying the softest Yes, but only on sufferance.