Welcome to the Age of Uncertainty
Deaglán de Bréadún
They say you can’t compare opinion polls from different companies but I’m never exactly sure why and people will do so anyway. Thus it is comforting for the Yes side that today’s Millward Brown Lansdowne figures in the Irish Independent show 37% saying they will vote for the Fiscal Treaty as compared to 24% who are opposed.
So far so good, for pro-Treaty campaigners but there is another figure there that will worry them a bit. The proportion of undecided voters stands at 35% with another 4% saying they won’t vote at all.
This is somewhat less reassuring for Yes folk than the RedC figures in the Sunday Business Post which had 53% for, 31% against and only 16% Don’t Knows.
On my way to work yesterday I passed a solicitor’s office with a notice outside proclaiming that they did the legal work in divorce cases. It brought me back to the dramatic day in November 1995 when the constitutional ban on divorce was lifted by 9,114 votes in a referendum.
I shall always recall leading anti-divorce campaigner, the affable Des Hanafin, father of former Dun Laoghaire TD Mary, saying to me: “The rain has us bet.”
He was alluding to the bad weather which was seen to have kept older voters in particular – especially in the west of Ireland – away from the polling-booths.
On such casual eventualities does the fate of nations and referendums hang sometimes.
It does look as if the Yes side is well-ahead but Simon Coveney is right from his viewpoint to warn against complacency. In Irish politics anything can happen – and very often does.