Mixed Messages for Parties As Voters Look to Local and Euro Elections

The poll today sends out a number of messages which need to be carefully analysed.  Fine Gael appear to be doing well in the European Elections but dropping share in the General Election poll, which is perhaps being influenced by the upcoming local elections.  At the same time there are significant and unexpected gains for the Green Party.

Trying to poll European Elections is difficult, because the country is split into three constituencies.  So, a normal poll of 1000 interviews doesn’t give a very robust measure when split into three different parts.  Particularly when the Dublin constituency only makes up 26% of the electorate, so any poll in this constituency based on a national sample of 1,000 is only based on 260 interviews.

To try and overcome this, in today’s poll RED C are trialling a new mixed method approach in order to retain the accuracy of telephone polls, but boost samples.  To start with, as normal we conducted a standard telephone poll of 1,000 interviews, which was drawn to be representative of all adults aged 18+.  To compliment this, we also ran a parallel survey of 1,000 interviews online, drawn using our own online panel “RED C Live” of 45,000 members across Ireland.  This panel is used extensively for commercial research, and allows us to conduct cost effective and accurate research among target samples.  This sample was also drawn to be representative of all adults aged 18+.

By using both approaches at the same time, it provides us with a more robust sample, both nationally, but also in particular within each of three European Constituencies.  In the South region this provides a robust base of 825 interviews, in Dublin 553, and in Midlands North West 646 interviews.  With still quite high numbers of undecided voters that must be removed, this at least means that those who are decided how to vote make up around 400-500 interviews in each constituency.  Thus, the margin of error for the results in each constituency is around + or – 4.5%.

As always, the results of any poll are a snapshot of a moment in time, and 1.5 weeks remain for canvassing and events that could impact on them.  Having said that, it is also the case that the top 3-4 candidates in each constituency in first preference votes, tend to end up getting elected despite the complexity of transfers, and thus the poll gives a good indication of the top runners and riders in each constituency.

Fine Gael candidates top the poll in all three European constituencies. Mairead McGuinness secures the highest share of the vote at 27% in Midlands North West; while Francis Fitzgerald in Dublin and Sean Kelly in South both secure 17%, topping the poll in each region respectively.  On top of this they have a further three candidates that are still in the running for second seats in each constituency, with Maria Walsh securing 10% in Midlands North West, Deirdre Clune 7% in South and Mark Durkan 8% in Dublin.

Sinn Fein also do well, with all three candidates securing second place in each constituency.  The party’s general election polling registered for the past year by RED C at in and around 13%-15% holds for each candidate.  Matt Carty secures 14% in Midlands North West, Liadh Ní Riada secures 15% in South and Lynn Boylan secures 13% in Dublin.  These results put the party In a strong position to secure 3 seats.

The Fianna Fail vote is good in the South region, which in more recent times is their stronghold, with Billy Kelleher securing 13% and Malcolm Byrne securing 10%, leaving the party on course to secure at least one and possibly two seats there.  In Dublin, Barry Andrews secures 12%, also leaving him in line to take a seat.  However, in Midlands North West the party support is not as strong, and split across two candidates making securing one seat harder.  Brendan Smith secures 9% in this poll and Anne Rabbitte 6%.

The other candidates doing well include both Independent and Green candidates.  Luke Ming Flanagan (Independent) 12% and Peter Casey (Independent) 10% both do well enough to be in the running for seat in Midlands North West.  Both Grace O’Sullivan (Green Party) 8% and Mick Wallace (Independents 4 Change) 8% still have a good chance to take a seat in the South region, particularly given the possibility of five seats in this constituency.  Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party) 11% and Clare Daly (Independents 4 Change) 9% are also still in the running for the final seat in Dublin.

This paints a very good picture for both Independents 4 change and the Green Party.  The Greens success in the European Election poll is mirrored in our General Election poll.  Of course, with the Local and European elections going on right now, these do have an impact on how people say they might vote in a General Election.  Thus, we may see support post the Euro/Local elections go back to the trends we have seen more so in recent polls.

In this poll, the last before these elections, the Greens have their best poll yet, securing 7% of the national vote.  The gains in support were mirrored in both the standard telephone poll and the online poll, giving further credence to the trend.  Whether on the back of recent climate change campaigning, or their local candidates, it is a stunning result for the party.  The support is underpinned by younger voters and gives climate change campaigners a real boost that their issues matter to voters.

At the same time Fine Gael have a poor general Election Poll, their support drops below 30% for the first time in a RED C poll since Nov 2017, securing 28%.  This suggests that despite their very good showing in the European Elections, perhaps due to the strong candidates they have selected, the local elections may not be so positive for the party.

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May 2019 Poll

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