If RTE's exit poll this morning is accurate, then Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fail have pulled off a Houdini-esque act of political escapology. And our predictions will have been rendered null & void.
In the first week of the campaign, I was chatting to Brian Cowen and he reminded me of the comeback by Offaly hurlers in 1994, when they scored 2-4 on the last four minutes to shock Limerick.
If the figures are accurate (and they were within a point in 2002) it means FF will be in the driving seat. However, the party had a massive seat bounce in 2002 and picked up a lot of transfers - principally because of a divided and fragmented opposition. This time round FG and Labour will do better in enticing transfers.
A vote of 26% for FG will be good but Labour will be deeply deeply disappointed with figures that show it standing still, or even going backwards.
As in 2002, the opinion polls seem to have overstated GP and SF vote. Primary reason for this is that both parties attract a strong vote from younger people and - despite good intentions and campaigns like Rock the Vote - the percentage of this cohort that votes is low. Also SF attracts a stronger vote in blue-collar areas - again the percentage is lower than in middle class and rural areas.
Five More Years! Incredible.
For those who didn't hear RTE, here are the figures:
FF: 41.6% (-)
FG: 26.3% (+4)
Lab: 9.9% (-1)
SF 7.3% (+.8)
GP 4.8% (+1)
PD 2.6% (-1.4)