OpinionPollingIrelandGeneralElection2016(Graph shows opinion poll from 2011-2016. Points represent results of individual polls. Trend lines represent twenty-poll moving averages.)


In the current frenzy of opinion polls, its interesting see them in the context of the previous 5 years of polling.

Some things that stand out:

  • Fine Gael have steadily increased over the last year
  • Sinn Fein have steadily decreased over the last year
  • Social Dems and AAA-PBP are on the rise
  • Fianna Fail and Labour have plateaued in the last 12 months

Graph: (CC BY-SA 4.0 thanks to Impru20 – Wikipedia)



Today we saw a constituency specific opinion poll for Dublin West. The Millward Browne survey, published in the Irish Independent, polled 520 voters and was carried out between February 5 and 8.

We’ve analysed the last 5 General Elections in Dublin West to see if there is any truth behind the claim that the Tánaiste might struggle in the forthcoming election.

Does today’s poll sound right?

The poll publish today has Joan Burton on 10% which is slightly more than how the Labour party is doing nationally (8% in the last poll). This is consistent with 4 of the last 5 elections where Joan has outperformed her party by a similar margin. She did even better in 2007 when she substantially outperformed her party by 17% to 10%.

Can we compare the current election with any in the past?

All elections are different, but if we look back to 1997 the Labour party had just been in coalition with Fianna Fail, and saw its national vote drop from 19% down to 10%. Joan saw her vote drop from 22% to 12%, and more importantly she didn’t get elected in 1997 (the only time in the last 5 GEs).

Has she pulled off a spectacular recovery in the past?

2002 saw the constituency drop from 4 to 3 seats and although Joan only got 12.7% first pref votes (barely half a quota), she was transfer friendly and this was enough to get her elected on the 6th count

What does she need this time to get elected?

Being the Tánaiste and a Minister would certainly help most candidate’s profile. But if her first preference votes don’t hold up, she’ll need a lot of transfers. She may get some favourable numbers from the two FG candidates, but its hard to see if other parties or independents will transfer as much as they have in the past.

The bottom line.

Our analysis suggests that at 10% share of first pref votes, she will struggle. It looks like she’ll be in a fight with Ruth Coppinger for the last seat and if she is behind the AAA-PBP candidate at the start, then the Tánaiste may not make it.