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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 1, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

    Early Days but already early doors for No side

    Harry McGee

    It’s just after noon and already the die is cast. The win won’t be emphatic – nothing like the 67 per cent to 33 per cent of Lisbon II – but it will be clearcut enough for the forces railed on the Yes side to claim a mandate for the fiscal treaty.

    As of now, it looks like high fifities for, and low forties against, although some of my colleagues are saying it could be as high as 60 to 40, which won’t be borne out in my opinion.

    There was a definite narrowing of support over the past week, although it was marginal. The big surges of support about ten days out that characterised Lisbon and Nice were absent here. Yes were ahead from day one and maintained that support throughout.

    Already we have all been busy pointing out the dichotomies between rich and poor areas, between urban and rural, between places along the border where Sinn Fein is strong.

    Of the 43 constituencies, no more than a handful look like voting No (but this is based on as yet incomplete tallies).

    The two Donegal constituencies will go against (they also rejected Lisbon Two) as will a number of urban constituencies in Dublin (and perhaps Cork) where there are high levels of unemployment and where Sinn Fein and/or the ULA are strong. The margin will also be closer in any constituency where Sinn Fein is strong, showing how the party succeeded in positioning itself very strongly as the de facto opposition to the treaty.

    The sense of disenfranchisement in poorer areas of the country need to be addressed, not just with a communication blitz but with the kind of imagination and energy that will infuse a little bit of hope.

    There could have been one or two aberrations but they just did not materialise. I thought that Eamon O Cuiv’s reach in Connemara might have swayed Galway West but it’s clear that (in the main) voters there sided with the issues rather than personalities.

    I also suspect that turnout will be higher than predicted (we always predict low turnouts). It will still be low compared to Lisbon Two (but higher than Lisbon One – that was 53 per cent).

    It will put paid to the old chestnut that Low means No as far as turnout is concerned.

    This referendum will deliver a Yes vote on a low turnout.

    The reasons for low turnouts are complicated and other factors need to be taken into account, such as how core or central the issue is, the nature of the campaign etc.

    Ultimately, Enda Kenny’s decision not to participate in any TV debate or interview was not a factor. And I’m sure his handlers will now say it justified his stance. No, guys it was wrong and a vote of no confidence in his ability to handle detail and a bit of an affront to democracy. Saying he answers Leaders’ Questions twice a week in the Dail is a feeble excuse, because that it a very set formate that doesn’t really allow for proper engagement.

    Likewise doorstep interviews where responses can be picked and chosen. And attending meetings throughout the country might have worked for Daniel O’Connell and Michael Collins but they have zero impact in the modern era.

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