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Well-known member
Oct 28, 2004
For those interested... there was some discussion (ahem!) in another thread regarding how LP might do in a GE when their polling is massively up on their previous outings.

It was suggested by some that LP could poll well nationally, but would be unable to capitalise on this on the ground, particularly in rural Ireland. Those who are familiar with what happened in 1992 will know this is wishful thinking on that posters part, but for those who aren't, my latest blog entry looks at what actually happened in the polls, how this translated in such areas.

Who fears to speak of ’92? « Irish Polling Report

I'll not paste it all here as it's too long, but some snippets which might be of interest

MRBI.....picked up the surge in support for LP over the course of the GE campaign (polling day was 25 November). A poll conducted over the period 9-11 November showed LP at 14%, and their last poll, conducted over the period 17-18 November showed LP at 19%. This is the best pre-election poll I could find for LP.

IMS/Millward Brown similarly showed LP at 8-11% in the April-July period, but in their poll conducted during the GE campaign in November, they detected a LP rise to 16%.

Lansdowne, who have since merged with Millward Brown, had two polls that I’ve been able to track down, one held in May/June where LP were at 9%, and the other held in November, which showed them risen to 15%.

So across all polling companies, there was remarkable unanimity regarding how LP were doing. 8-11% before the election, and rising to 15-19% during it, depending on the company you chose to believe.

Taking these figures, and using the same logic that Tommy O’Brien came out with in p.ie, LP should have been lucky to get about 13%. Local factors, local candidates, lack of LP organisation in places they couldn’t even field a candidate the last time out, the “Shy Tory Syndrome”, the “Bradley Effect” (in Clare at least!), and of course, the infamous “Tommy’s kitchen sink” syndrome would all have conspired uniquely against LP, and seen them fall short of the real polls.

History, however, records an altogether different outcome. LP got 19.5% of the vote on the day, winning 33 seats, and missing out on several others as a result of fielding too few candidates. Interestingly, IMS/MB took another poll for the Sunday Indo following the election, when the scale of the LP gains was evident, and they were at 26%, 9 points ahead of a demoralised FG.
But what was most interesting was that the biggest swings to LP were often in exactly the sorts of places that they would be expected to pick it up least, , and couldn’t have picked up the swing at all if you accept Tommy’s reasoning. Places like Clare, Cavan-Monaghan and Donegal NE, where LP usually couldn’t even field a candidate, were averaging nearly 10%, a slightly bigger swing than the national average and over half their national opinion polls rating. These were wastelands for the LP organisation at the time. In Clare, LP had run in the ’87 GE with Shannon Town Commissioner Tom O’Shaughnessy and received 1.27%, which saw them not even bothering in ’89. Mossy Bhamjee only agreed to put his name on the ballot paper to at least fly the flag, and was, it is said, quite shocked to hear that he had got elected (I wasn’t, by the way…). In Donegal NE, similarly LP came from a standing start, and with a candidate that was seen as an eccentric in LP circles. Sean Maloney was one of two brothers who ran a newsletter called “Labour Comment”, which was described by some as neither loony left, nor loony right, but just plain loony. Still, the man got 11.34% of the vote. In Cavan-Monaghan, a young woman called Ann Gallagher who had barely graduated from college and was practically unknown took LP from zero to 8.28%.

Remember, these are following polls showing LP on about 17%, and getting 19.5% on the day
Now this will happen in some places (indeed, I’ve predicted it would). However, in his own constituency (Dublin SW), LP took 2 seats in ’92, despite a little known running mate for Taylor (the recently elected Cllr Eamonn Walsh), a very poor split in the vote (2/1), and a popular DL candidate in Pat Rabbite who was well placed to take advantage of slippage. Similarly, LP went from zero to two seats in Dublin North East, despite a poor split in the vote (the little known Tommy Broughan getting barely a quarter of the LP vote) and Pat McCartan being incumbent. The odds on two LP seats there tumbled during the campaign, but you could still get 8-1 against on the eve of polling
Full article here

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