Friday, 7 October 2016

Irish Polling Indicator, update 6 October 2016


Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael battle it out for top spot

In the first Irish Polling Indicator for the 32nd Dáil, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are leading the polls with estimates around 26% each. The Irish Polling Indicator pools all Irish opinion polls to arrive at an overall estimate of where the parties stand. Fine Gael support has not changed since the February elections. The party is currently estimated at between 24.5% and 28.5%. Fianna Fáil had seen a bit of an increase in support in early July, but is currently back around General Election levels: 22.5% to 28%. The difference between the two top parties is so small that we cannot conclude which one is currently enjoying more popular support in vote intention polls.

Sinn Féin is doing relatively well in opinion polls. The party is now at 18.5% (plus or minus 2%), which is higher than the 13.8% they obtained in the February elections. The problem with estimating Sinn Féin support, however, is that most of the time they do better in polls than in actual elections. In the very last Polling Indicator before the elections in February, the party was estimated to stand at 16.5%, but it achieved only 13.8% of the vote four days later on Election Day. An analysis by Red C suggests that late swing could explain most of this gap, but polls might also overestimate Sinn Féin support for other reasons (sampling, likely voter weighting). Whatever the reason, the current standing of 18.5% is higher than the last Sinn Féin estimates in the February pre-election polls, so their increase in support seems at least partly real.

As it stands, Independent candidates (including the Independent Alliance) have been losing some ground since February. They are currently estimated at 13.5% (between 11.5% and 16%), which is about 4% lower than their February result. We should note that one pollster, Millward Brown, had them significantly lower than all other polling companies at 8%. Still, most pollsters have independents at 14%-16% in their most recent polls, which is somewhat of a decrease compared to the election result.

Labour shows no signs of recovery after their election defeat in February. Support for the former government party is actually quite stable at 6.5% (plus or minus 1.5%), which is almost exactly what they obtained in February. We see something similar for the smaller political groupings with AAA-PBP at 4.5%, the Green Party at 2.5% and the Social Democrats at 2%. Only for the Social Democrats this is statistically significantly lower than in February (but only marginally). For all of the smaller parties a margin of error of around plus or minus 1% applies.
Renua Ireland, which failed to win any seats in February, seems not to be doing very well in the polls. Because not all pollsters report separate figures for Renua, it is included in the ‘Others’ grouping, but that is polling only half a percentage point in total. Even if all of that support were for Renua, this does not bode well for the party. Indeed in most polls Renua is on 0 or less than one percent. The Worker’s Party also finds some support in some opinion polls, but likewise is not separately reported in all polls. 

All in all, the picture that arises is one of relative stability. Despite the erratic process of government formation, at least for Irish standards, voters do not seem to be moving towards or away from the Fine Gael minority government, at least not in significant numbers. Perhaps the decrease in support for independents might be linked to independent support for the government, but this is not clear, as there are also many independent candidates that are not involved in the minority government. The Independent Alliance, which is separately reported in some polls, does not seem to gain or lose support.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Irish Polling Indicator, update 23 February 2016

Independents and minor parties on the rise

Only a few days before the election, polls continue to indicate that this might be the election of the independent candidates and smaller parties. The group of Independents and others has improved their total score from about 22% early this year to 25% in the latest Irish Polling Indicator, which combines all opinion polls into one estimate. Within that group the Social Democrats are doing particularly well recently, currently polling well over 3%, with AAA-PBP on almost 4% and Renua on 2%. Independent candidates, including the Independent alliance, are now on more than 14% support.

Sinn Féin, on the other hand, has seen a significant decline in support: from 19% in January to under 17% now. In 2015, the party was even competing with Fine Gael for first place, but that seems far out of reach now. Compared to the last election, seventeen per cent  is still a considerable increase, but as in previous election the party seems to lose some support during the last weeks of campaigning.
The government parties are not getting any campaign boost either. Fine Gael did very well in the last part of 2015, but its momentum has stalled. The party is now at 28.5%, which puts the party in the lead, but it probably won’t be enough to save the coalition. This is also due to the poor showing of Labour, which is at 6.5% in the most recent Polling Indicator. This is a marginal decline from early this year (-1%), just at the borders of the margin of error.

Fianna Fáil is doing relatively well at 21%. There seems to be a modestly positive trend for the party over the last weeks, but this is also inside of the margin of error. With Sinn Féin slipping, however, Fianna Fáil is now the second party in the polls. Their former coalition partner, the Green Party, has improved a little bit over the last few months, but it still polling at low levels: just over 2%.

This is where the polls stand a couple of days before the elections, but it is important to note that some people still need to make up their minds. In most polls, more than 10% of respondents are still undecided. Moreover, the gap between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is much wider in some polls (10% with Red C) than others (4% with Millward Brown). This averages out to about 7.5% in the Polling Indicator, but the large discrepancies between pollsters point to some uncertainty as to exactly how big Fine Gael’s lead is.

All figures & data >>

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Irish Polling Indicator, update 21 February 2016

Three new polls were published yesterday, each taken over two or more days in the past week. While their messages were mixed, the overall impact on the Irish Polling Indicator polling average is limited. Generally, Labour and Sinn Féin seem not to be doing particularly well this campaign, with Fine Gael also showing a loss of momentum. Fianna Fáil and some of the smaller parties, particularly the Green Party and Social Democrats seem to be doing relatively well. But it is important to note that most of these changes are within the relevant 95% uncertainty margin, meaning that we cannot be too sure about these patterns.

We're expecting a new Ipsos MRBI poll to come out tomorrow, after which I'll publish an updated polling average here with analysis on the Irish Times website.

All figures & graphs >>

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Update Irish Polling Indicator, 17 February 2016

This update includes the new Red C poll for the Irish Sun. It becomes increasingly clear that Others and Independents are doing well over the last weeks and months, while Fine Gael support is clearly past its peak. Still, if we take into account the margins of error we cannot be entirely sure that Fine Gael support has dropped in the last few weeks. If more polls confirm the low estimate of 26% in the most recent Red C poll, we would be able to draw that conclusion.

Sinn Féin did well in the previous Red C poll (20%), but is now back to 17% again. It is entirely plausible that this was just random error in the data and that Sinn Féin support has remained essentially stable over the last week. As I indicated before: those kinds of movements in a single poll need to be confirmed by other polls before we can draw solid conclusions. You need to take margin of error  into account.

All figures & graphs >>

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Update Irish Polling Indicator, 14 February 2016

This update includes the new Red C Research poll for the Sunday Business Post, published today. While the overall picture remains the same, it does become increasingly clear that Fine Gael has lost the momentum it gained in the second part of 2015. The party peaked in December and has been declining a little bit since then (although this is still within the uncertainty margin).

Sinn Féin is up 3 points in the new Red C Research poll, but this does not greatly impact upon the polling average. Sinn Féin's gain in that poll might be true, but it could also be random noise; it's too early to tell.

All figures & graphs >>

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Update Irish Polling Indicator, 10 February 2016

This update includes the new Red C / Paddy Power poll published today. The small (non-significant) changes that occur in that poll do not substantively affect the Polling Indicator estimates.

All figures & graphs >>

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Irish Polling Indicator, update 7 February 2016

This update includes the last poll that was published yesterday night, by Millward Brown. Their fieldwork was actually conducted over a relatively long time period, from 25 January to 4th of February. Including these new figures does not substantially alter the Polling Indicator's estimates. (Please note that Millward Brown did not release figures for the minor parties, at least not that I could find, so these figures remain unchanged.)

All figures & graphs >>

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Irish Polling Indicator, update 6 February 2016

Today the Irish Poling Indicator was updated with two new polls, by Red C Research and Behaviour & Attitudes.  Together with the Ipsos MRBI poll published earlier this week, these polls form a cluster of three that has been conducted early this week. On the one hand, this helps us to reduce random error associated with opinion research, but it also makes clear that there are structural differences between pollsters. For example, Red C research has Labour on 10%, while the other two pollsters have the party at 7 or 8%. This is not a one-off: Red C has consistently estimated Labour higher than other pollsters do.

New to the Irish Polling Indicator is that for the first time I am breaking down the category of 'Others/independents'. This is somewhat tricky, as these smaller parties have not been consistently included in polls for a very long time. That is why I am taking a two-step approach. The main model for the analysis remains unchanged, including the 'Others/independents' category, which we have consistent data for since 2011. We break this down by analysing data from September 2015 until now. This data is analysed on a party-by-party basis. In fact, the model I am using for this analysis is very similar to what I am using for the Dutch version of the polling indicator. Basically, it takes into account all of the things the regular analysis also looks at, but it does not guarantee that party support will add up exactly to 100% (or in the case of analysing the Others/independents category to whatever the total of that category is on a given day). This is the limitation of this data, but in practise it does not matter that much. I'll analyse the support for only three of the minor parties and  independents, so there will be other even smaller parties that are not included in the breakdown. Therefore the total of Other/Independents is likely to be higher than the sum of the four groups in the breakdown.

We'll break down the data for AAA-PBP, Renua, Social Democrats and Independents (including the Independent Alliance). The AAA-PBP alliance is currently estimated at about 3.5%. Pollsters made hugely different estimated of their support last year, but current polls are in relative agreement. Renua is at 1%, which is also quite consistent between polls.

The Social Democrats are currently estimated at 2.5%, which seems a slight improvement over earlier this year. The group of Independents, including the Independent Alliance, is estimated at about 13.5%. Note that Ipsos MRBI has them somewhat lower at 11%, while Red C has this group of candidates at about 16%. Again, this is a pattern that is not unique to the latest set of polls: Red C Research have put the group of Independents/IA higher than other pollsters, in particular Ipsos MRBI, for at least six months.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Irish Polling Indicator: update 4 February 2016

This Polling Indicator has been updated with the newest Ipsos MRBI poll. It does not significantly alter our estimates of the parties' standing. Independents/Others seem to do a bit better recently, but this increase in support is still within the margin of error.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Irish Polling Indicator: update 30 January 2016

The Irish Polling Indicator has been updated with the new Sunday Business Post/Red C poll that was published on 30 January.

All data & graphs >>

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Irish Polling Indicator: too soon to cheer for Fianna Fáil


Two new polls were hailed as good news for Fianna Fáil this weekend. A Red C poll put the party up 2 points to 19 per cent, while B&A put the party up 1 point to 20 per cent. In fact, neither change is statistically significant on its own – with the December poll of Red C seemingly an ‘outlier’ on the low side (see below). Even if we combine all of the polls, as the Irish Polling Indicator does, we find no change in support: Fianna Fáil remains stable at 20 per cent. Support for Micheál Martin’s party has not been statistically significantly different from current levels since May 2014.