Are AAA-PBP gains more than just a one off?
An exceptional poll result for the Anti Austerity Alliance – People Before Profit today could be dismissed as potentially a rogue poll, or once off bump in results. The party saw its share of the vote jump by 3% to leave them securing 9% of the first preference vote among very likely voters in todays poll.
The reality is though that AAA-PBP have been very good at taking big issues and garnering publicity around these focused “fights” for people rights. They were the first party to really vocalise the fight against water charges, and only after their success on this issue and the clear support from the public, did the likes of Sinn Fein and even Fianna Fail change their stance to also campaign more heavily on an anti-water charge platform.
Likewise in recent weeks the party has received a lot of media coverage over its support of a referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment. While others have perhaps been seen to kick the issue down the street, the AAA-PBP have been clear in their unwavering support to Repeal the 8th Amendment, and certainly appear to have won over voters as a result. The thing the party has been really good at is making full gains among the public for their stand. In contrast, Sinn Fein and Labour have both also supported Repealing the 8th Amendment, but don’t appear to have made this count in the eyes of the electorate. In fact both parties appear to have lost support to some extent toward the AAA-PBP, Sinn Fein perhaps more directly than Labour. You can see now why Micheal Martin wants to restrict their speaking rights.
The AAA-PBP result today is significant in itself, but much more so when taken in context with the previous number of polls since the last election. This is not a one off gain for the party, but rather a continuation of an upward trend seen in those polls. In the General Election in February the party secured 4% of the first preference vote. In one of our first polls after the election in March they secured 5% and retained this over the summer months. In our last poll in September they secured 6% share, and then today they have secured 9% share. A very clear upward trend in support.
While it may perhaps be difficult to retain such a large increase in the future, continuing the overall upward trend is certainly possible, based on an analysis of support. To start with the parties support is not “flaky”, in terms of being among people less likely to vote; or highly “restricted” to certain groups. Their support is actually stronger among very likely voters, than it is among the electorate as a whole. Support for the party is stronger among somewhat younger voters, but not limited to very young voters. The party consistently reaches 11-13% among all those aged 18-55, and only falls off among older over 55 year old age groups. Neither is its support focused on the less privileged in society, with just as strong support among upmarket social groups.
Its support base is currently very focused in Dublin, with well over half of all supporters living in Dublin, but I would imagine the party would see that as an opportunity to extend their base nationwide, rather than a negative.
So are gains for AAA-PBP threatening the so called “Middle” that Pascal Donohoe was concerned about holding in his budget speech? At present it would appear not, with little change in support for the two largest parties. Fine Gael remains unchanged at 25% and Fianna Fail support is down 1% at 26%. However the broad church of supporters seen for the AAA-PBP today suggests that the party can appeal across the electorate and if they can continue to gain momentum, may have a few other parties watching over their shoulders.
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