Sunday, January 14, 2007

This morning's poll in the Sunday Tribune is being billed as a claw-back for the Rainbow but neither Fine Gael nor Labour can exactly crow about a miserly three point gain from an unbelievably low base. FG at 22% is a disaster and Labour can't seem ever to nest itself in the teens support-wise.

What about FF and the PDs? The new reality is that all those mid- and low-30s results from last year are in the past as previously wavering supporters nail their colours to the mast. Five per cent is a good result for the PDs, given its spotty distribution around the country. I still maintain that the party will struggle.

One of the myths that grew up after BertieGate was that FF's bounce back in the polls was due to the inept performance of the oppostion and The Bert coming out to show the stuff he is made off.

That is piffle. On radio last week, Fintan O'Toole was more or less saying that, when a lot of people were looking at live Dail coverage for the first time, Kenny jammed both of his feet into his mouth by attacking Dick Roche in the Dail rather than Bertie. And ergo his stock fell.

The fact was that The Bert's perfromance was abysmal throughout the whole thing. The Frank Luntz exercise for RTE showed that few believed his excuses, that the cow eyes routine didn't wash with the public.

The polls were already showing Fianna Fail at a very high mark after the summer. An Irish Examiner poll in September showed FF at 39 per cent but it was mocked as a 'rogue poll' by Pat Rabbitte. I believe that one of the Oirish papers also ran a poll at the time that showed FF at 40 but they didn't run its results because it seemed such an aberration compared to the summer.

Sure, the opposition failed to make hay during BertieGate. But this notion that they shot themselves in the foot is incorrect. I think the underlying trends since the summer were already favoring FF. Yes, it is surprising that The Bert's abject explanation of the payments he got didn't affect him more.

But maybe people were hedging their bets, giving him a marginal benefit of the doubt for now.

But don't believe them when they tell you the moment the election was won or lost was the moment the leaders were asked to stand up and be counted during BertieGate. Because that vessel holds little water.


Will said...

Just wondering, was any of the changes greater than 3%?


Standard error in these surveys is a minimum of +/- 3%.

That 2% rise might just be a statistical error...

Harry McGee said...

You are right. None of the increases or decreases were outside the standard margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

So from a purely statistical viewpoint, this poll records no changes of any significance.

But the media (us included) and politicians leap on the most minute changes as if the earth had moved.

I am also dubious about how some of the political parties have started clustering the polls to discern 'tracking' patterns. As I have said before, I think that opinion polls are a very blunt instrument that give relatively ok indication of how the main two parties are faring - the accuracy diminishes the smaller the party.