Sunday, September 26, 2010

Polls Apart

What a difference a few days makes. On Thursday evening TV3 released the results of an opinion poll that it commissioned from Millward-Browne which showed Labour as the best supported party in the state. Then on Saturday evening the regular RedC poll in the Sunday Business Post was released and it showed that FG were back in the driving seat.

Fianna Fáil22242
Fine Gael30311
Sinn Féin4106

Both polls were carried out by phone early in the week and no major incidents had occurred during the polling period. Both polls also had a sample size of around 1000, giving a margin of error of ±3. So what can one read into these figures?

Obviously, the major discussion point is the 12% difference in recorded support for Labour. While I think it is fair to say that nobody actually believed 35% to be the actual figure, certainly a figure of 31% or 32% could have been believed. The last MRBI poll had Labour around there and the previous RedC had 27%. Sinking back to 23%, while still over twice support won in the last general election, will be seen as a bit of a disappointment. Similarly, Sinn Féin's figures seem a bit off. Based on previous polls I would have expected a result around 8%-10% and so again the TV3 figures seem to underestimate their support.

Otherwise the polls track each other fairly closely. FF is somewhere in the low to mid 20s, FG in the low to mid 30s and the Greens are struggling along at the bottom. Perhaps the explanation comes from a fight for left leaning voters with Labour and SF dipping into the same pool of around 35%-40% of the population. In the run up to an election, if the Gilmore for Taoiseach proposition looks like becoming a reality, SF could find itself squeezed as the left collectively jumps on the bandwagon to ensure this outcome. However, if Labour stall in the low 20s and will be the junior partner in an FG/L coalition then SF, and indeed PBP and Socialists, may do well as the vote of choice for angry working class voters. Its all down to momentum.

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