Friday, May 11, 2007


A noticeable trend in the Irish Times poll this morning was upward shifts and slideage of support for the non Big 2 parties. Labour is on a roll at the moment and has displaced both Sinn Fein and the Greens as the 'coming party'. Its three point jump to 13 is consistent with findings in our own poll and the Sunday Business Post on Sunday. After months of green tide talk, the Greens look like they may be on the ebb. Five per cent suggests a loss of traction to Labour in the key Dublin constituencies. At that level of support, there are no guarantees it can retain all its seat.

And that will make a lot of people who predicted they would win big a little bit silly.

In our own supplement I predicted the following state of the parties:

FF 67; FG 47; Lab 22; GP 11; SF 8; PD 4; Others 7.

Of course, it would be churlish for me to pledge my life on it. These things are merely punt. And when you tot up all the individual constituency predictions done by the media in the run-up to elections, you see how horribly wrong we turn out to be.

In any instance, I will have to revisit my predictions this weekend, and perhaps revise the Greens down, SF up a little, and Labour up a little. But then, I'll probably have to do the same next weekend. Fortunes wax and wane furiously in the heat of battle.

At least I'm in relatively good company. Watch this classic piece of RTE footage from the 1981 election where Vincent Browne (dig the lamb chops!) admits he was completely wrong with his predictions. Follow this link!


Anonymous said...

I must say I'm getting a bit fed up with the way that the media constantly over-interprets opinion polls. In my view, the margin of error means that are far less meaningful than most journalists are willing to admit.

For example, some people are getting very excited about the fact that FF went up from 34 to 36. But since the margin of error is 3, how do we know that they haven't actually gone from 37 to 33? Or even 31 to 39? Answer - we don't.
At the risk of labouring the point, the poll says that FG dropped from 31 to 28. But with the margin of error, how do jouurnalsts know that they weren't 28 back then and 31 now?

Answer - they don't. They're just making educated guesses or, to put it less charitably, filling space.

Harry McGee said...

That's all very true. I made the selfsame point in an article I wrote on the eve of the election a fortnight ago. Here's the link

Dan Sullivan said...

Harry, you should post your final prediction here, just to see how it compares with all the various amateurs from and

My own guess is/was
FF 60 FG 59 Lab 23 Pd 1 Grn 10 SF 6 Inds 6

Harry McGee said...

Dan, we have discovered a FGer who's even more enthusiastic than Frank Flannery.

I'm more or less sticking to my guns, besides revising Green down a little, Inds down a little, Labour up one and SF up one (Dublin Central).


But if you cumulate the predictions by us reputed experts, they are as fallible as everybody else's. It's like predicting the outcome of championship matches. You go with past form rather than the present factors!