Will Gallagher lose votes? If so, who gains?2011.10.25
There is significant expectation that Sean Gallagher may well lose supporters following last nights debate, where he was confronted by Martin McGuinness about collecting money for Fianna Fail.
The question is will this make enough of a difference to close the 14% gap he held against Michael D. Higgins in the last poll?
The first thing we need to bear in mind is that this charge “collecting money for Fianna Fail” had been leveled at Sean Gallagher before last night, and had done little to damage him. On this basis our first thought would be that it was still Gallagher’s election to lose.
However, it is the collective wisdom within RED C, that it is possibly the way he dealt with this accusation in the debate that may have caused him the problems today, rather than the facts themselves. If Gallagher had simply said, “Yes I collected money for Fianna Fail as a grassroots member, as thousand of grassroots members do for political parties all the time”. He may not have been that badly damaged. But the way he tried to evade the question, and then was forced to admit he had taken an envelope, has possibly now made him look rather “shifty” and potentially damaged him more than the revelation itself.
So if he loses votes, who gains? The first thing we can look at is the second preference vote among those that gave Gallagher his first preference. This clearly favours Michael D. Higgins, who secures 33%, and suggests that if these voters in particular change their minds then the election could be far closer on Thursday following the explosive debate last night.
|Michael D. Higgins (LAB)||33%|
|Martin McGuinness (SF)||13%|
|David Norris (IND)||10%|
|Gay Mitchell (FG)||11%|
|Mary Davis (IND)||12%|
|Dana Rosemary Scallon (IND)||5%|
However we have seen consistently that a majority of people are looking for an Independent candidate. So could some of his first preference switch back to a different Independent candidate? This is possible and would mean Higgins might not gain as much. If this does happen it looks like Mary Davis or David Norris could benefit, but not enough to make a significant difference to their chances of winning. Both of them only secure around 1 in 10 of Gallagher’s second preference.
The real unknown is how much impact the debate last night has had on the electorate, and without polling again we won’t know for sure until Friday. If Gallagher has been impacted even slightly and has lost votes, it is quite conceivable that Michael D Higgins could win the election, despite being in a distant second place just two days ago!