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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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