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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 20, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Irish Times Opinion Poll

    Harry McGee

    The figures in the final Irish Times/ Ipsos MRBI poll are astounding and confirm a few trends that have been evident in the past week.

    They are:

    Fianna Fáil, 16 per cent (+1); Fine Gael, 37 per cent (+4); Labour, 19 per cent (-5); Sinn Féin, 11 per cent (-1); Green Party, 2 per cent (+1); and Independents/Others, 15 per cent (no change).

    (This is written in a hurry so apologies in advance for all typographical errors and sins against the laws of grammar and proper usage!).

    Opinion polls are by their nature a bluntish insturment for reflecting voting intentions. In this election, the determination of the final seat will be crucial in almost every one of the 43 constituencies. With a margin of error of plus or minus 3 per cent, it is not possible to predict with any degree of certainty the outcome.

    But having said that, they do identify the big trends, especially when then you are looking at cumulative results.

    And the big trends are usually, to borrow the favourite phrase of  my first editor,  as plain as a pikestaff.

    Here we have:

    The inexorable rise of Fine Gael.

    Labour’s dramatic fall.

    Fianna Fail stopping the rot.

    Sinn Fein losing momentum.

    I attended two events today. The Fine Gael event in the Aviva stadium. George Hook was the MC and threw away all objectivity. The FG livery was onipresent. The atmosphere was buoyant verging on triumphalist.

    Fine Gael are on 70 plus though I don’t think they have the strategy or candidate management in place to reach 80.

    But more than a few of my colleagues noted today that this may be their Sheffied moment,  a reference to the infamous Labour Party rally in Britain in 1992 when Neil Kinnock declared victory a week before the event. Only to be kiboshed by John Major’s Tories the following week. I don’t think Fine Gael will lose too much momentum. I have a sense there may be a slight correction in the final week… a tiny move away.

    Onto Navan tonight for Micheal Martin’s keynote speech. No better place for the diehard FFers and some 400 of them packed into the room to hear his appeal to the Fianna Fail core to return to a party that was returning to the core. It was a relatively well-crafted speech well delivered, and will position the party when it is picking up the pieces after the election. Fianna Fail will stage a mini rally, I think, this week but will still be 40 seats at least shy of Fine Gael.

    And what of Labour? It all seems to be going wrong. Was it the monotone anger? Or the flip-fllp on the deficit and higher tax rates  early in the campaign? Or an absense of the detail? Or the negative campaigning? Or Eamon Gilmore’s struggle to find the right picch? Or the fact that it may be more a party than a presidential campaign?

    Sinn Fein has also struggled to maintain the momentum given to the party by Pearse Doherty after his byelection victory. The party came close enough in 2007 and is likely to double its seats next Friday. But it no longer looks like it will treble  its seats. People might cite Gerry Adams as a factor. I think there was a feeling out there that its economic plan lacked credibility and it would take a mathematical genius of the stature of Isaac Newton to explain why their figures succeed in defying grafity.

    The Irish Times poll published at the same juncture in 2007 was critical in determining the outcome. What was set in the poll materialised, give or take a couple of percentage points, on election day.

    There’s a lot more volatility out there this time and there’s still a lot to play for.  But the big trends are evident. Fine Gael will be the big winners. It two rivals will both lose out, compartively.

    Sinn Fein will flatter to deceive… again. The ULA will make a breaktrhrough.

    And it’s going to be a big independents day. I’d say 15 at least… and counting!

    • Mick says:

      Harry you say, “I think there was a feeling out there that its (Sinn Féin’s) economic plan lacked credibility and it would take a mathematical genius of the stature of Isaac Newton to explain why their figures succeed in defying grafity.” This is a pretty loaded statement considering most reputable economic commentators – even those that profoundly disagree with Sinn Féin on many of its social policies – agreed with its approach to the banking crisis. Indeed all the other parties have during the course of the campaign tried to shift closer to Sinn Féin’s position in relation to the banking crisis. It is how you are prepared to deal with the banking crisis that dictates how you will be able to fund or not many of the other measures are set out in each of the parties manifestos. In fairness you don’t need to be Isaac Newton to figure that out.

    • Despondent says:

      What is Enda Kenny smiling about?.He is about to become politacal leader of a once proud Nation that is now bankrupt by criminally negligent bankers,property developers and politicians.Europe now calls the shots and the Dail is expensive window dressing.God save us.

    • Tina says:

      Puzzling,these polls, not young myself,but surrounded by them,most under 30,most are voting in this election,most hadn’t before,most are voting left-leaning candidates.

    • Bellminx says:

      I’m very glad to see Fianna Fáil under Micheál Martin steadily rising in the polls and sincerely hope they will form the main opposition after the election — unless a small miracle happens and the dark grey cloud that was formed around the government by relentless negative anti-government propaganda begins to suddenly lift and the people begin to realize that given all the circumstances of the past few years (not least the Global Economic Crisis and the fact that had FG or Labour been in power the situation now could have been so much worse) the Fianna Fáil leaders clearly made all the tough/correct decisions and set the only credible course (with the imprimatur of the EU/IMF) for our country’s future and most especially that these experienced politicians know exactly where the mistakes were made and exactly how to avoid them in the future and anyone with a twitter of wit will realize that Micheál Martin would be a brilliant leader for this country; and anyone with another twitter of wit will realize that that the rise of Enda/FG was entirely opportunistic – that is, taking complete advantage of the very vulnerable situation the government/country found itself in at the height of the crisis.
      I am absolutely delighted to see Labour and Sinn Fein losing face since their strategy for the past few years and especially during the peak of the crisis was based on gross negativity and government sniping at a time when calm was needed and not least for the sake of this country’s survival vis-à-vis the international markets, etc. and also I think from a campaign strategy point of view, Labour’s big mistake was to give such prominence to such a strident feminist as Ivana Bacik, especially when Ms Bacik’s image beside any of Labour’s patriarchy (especially Pet Rabbitte) looks like a complete visual oxymoron and any reminder of “feminism” induces a balking impulse in most people these days.
      With regard to Sinn Fein, Pearse Doherty’s brief “shining” was never going to last and the crafty attempts by Gerry Adams to “bask” in that now falling star was never going to work.
      I hope people are sensible enough to vote for either of the two main parties (FF or FG) which parties will no doubt “evolve” given lessons learnt from the recent past and since anything else is just a waste of time. Labour, SF and the Independents should disband and their members should join either FF or FG and help develop these parties……….or just go back to the void.
      Oh and the Greens can be used for compost..!!

    • Hugh Sheehy says:

      Polls are showing independents to be right in the mix with FF, Labour and ahead of SF.

      Yet the press and radio and TV still feature Martin and Adams and Gilmore a thousand times more than any independent or combination of independents.


    • Jaygee says:

      As an outside observer, it is sad to see that the old Civil War parties will still feature. I had hoped that a breakthrough by the Left was on the cards. Grown ~up politics at last ! A strong showing by the ULA
      would give the young people of Ireland some hope for the future.

    • RayD says:

      It is very easy to explain why Labour appear to be slipping. They are not slipping just going back to their core vote given the position of the Party. Labour will never do as well as they should as long as they are willing to prop up either FF or FG in goverment. It is quite clear that if Labour refused to go into government with right wing parties, their vote would rise dramatically. There is no reason for anyone to trust Labour while its only role is to prop up other parties. A vote for Labour in 2011 is a vote for FG. Why do it? If Labour stepped back now from FG the result would be that FG would need FF support to gain power. Labour still have that brilliant opportunity but a change of leader seems required.

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