United Left Alliance may top the poll in Tipperary South

FF may not win a seat after shift in support to FG and left-wing candidate

IT, Wed, Feb 16, 2011

CONSTITUENCY OPINION POLL: TIPPERARY SOUTH: Séamus Healy is expected to recover the seat he lost to Fianna Fáil in the 2007 general election, writes STEPHEN COLLINS , Political Editor

A MASSIVE swing from Fianna Fáil to Fine Gael and former Independent TD Séamus Healy is revealed in today’s Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll for Tipperary South.

The poll indicates Fianna Fáil will be left without a Dáil seat in the constituency and there is no guarantee that former party TD Mattie McGrath will make it back to the Dáil as an Independent.

Mock ballot papers were used in the poll, which shows that Healy is almost certain to recover the seat he lost to Fianna Fáil in 2007.

Healy was first elected to the Dáil at a byelection in 2000 as an Independent representing the Unemployed Action Group in the constituency.

He was re-elected in the general election of 2002, but lost to Fianna Fáil last time out.

Healy is running under the banner of the United Left Alliance. He will be vying with Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes to head the poll on February 25th.

While Healy is marginally ahead in the opinion poll, a breakdown of the figures shows Hayes is stronger among middle-class voters who are more likely to cast their votes.

The Fine Gael vote is up significantly in the poll, but not by enough to win two seats. While Hayes has 25 per cent of the vote, his running mate Michael Murphy is on just 6 per cent.

A more even split in the Fine Gael vote could put the party in contention for two seats, but only if it gained significantly more support by the date of the election.

The poll shows a strong Fine Gael transfer to Labour senator Phil Prendergast might be enough to enable her to beat McGrath for the last seat.

Prendergast and McGrath are locked together on the first count and the outcome will depend on which candidate will be able to attract more transfers as the count progresses.

Prendergast will be relying on strong transfers from Fine Gael, but the poll shows the transfer rate from the second Fine Gael candidate, Michael Murphy, is just 50 per cent. It would need to be significantly stronger for the Labour candidate to be assured of taking the last seat.

However, McGrath’s capacity to attract transfers from Fianna Fáil is even more limited.

The opinion poll shows he is getting less than 50 per cent of Mansergh’s transfers with the rift between the party and its former TD clearly influencing Fianna Fáil voters.

Mansergh on just 10 per cent of the vote is far short of the quota of 25 per cent.

With no candidates coming behind him capable of delivering a significant transfer, his only chance of retaining his seat is to obtain a significant increase in his share of the first preference vote by election day.

Realistically, to have any chance of returning to the Dáil, Mansergh will have to overtake McGrath on the first count, and he does not have a lot of time left. One thing in his favour is that his support is strongest among the over-65s.

The elderly are the segment of the electorate most likely to vote, and successive polls have shown this group is the last bastion of Fianna Fáil support.

At this stage, though, it looks as if Mansergh is too far back to get into the race.

Sinn Féin is not making the inroads in Tipperary South it appears to be making in large urban areas, but the party’s vote is up. The Green Party got 1.5 per cent in the last election and, going on the poll, will be lucky to get that this time around.

© 2011 The Irish Times

Donal Mac Fhearraigh


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