It is entirely possible that Donegal South West might see an election with no significant transfers shifts of note. That the result will simply be decided on who does best on the first count. FF appear to have solid tribal party vote there and perhaps the floor to their vote is around 30%, SF meanwhile would have a ceiling in what they would be able to attract and might find it hard to get a majority i.e 50% of the remaining non-FF vote so they would be capped at a 35% maximum. Labour have a national tail wind behind them while FG will be solid but unlikely to see any sort of surge. So FG could be wandering about in the mid 20%s unable to attract those fleeing FF in significant numbers mostly cos of tribal antipathy while the media attention is all on SF and Labour.
Clearly from the Vincent Browne show last night the most polished and articulate candidates are SF’s Pearse Doherty and FF’s Brian ÓDomhnail* (and let’s face it both are already full-time paid elected reps so we should expect no less) , FG’s Barry O’Neill was really only fair to middling in his contributions, seeming to have too much recourse to standard phrases and sound bites (there again he has the least experience in front of a camera of the four so perhaps it was nerves, but he’d want to be more fluid and natural if he gets a chance again on the telly) with the stand out (and not in the best of ways) contributions coming from Labour Frank McBrearty who was constantly reminding me most of various politicians from across the border who were most intent on speaking to their own community and to hell with any sort of rational engagement.
It is very hard, indeed near impossible, to see SF breaching 35% on the 1st count (if they did so and did it by halving the FF vote then every FF TD in the country will have endless sleepless nights ahead) so I’d have them in the low to mid 30s at the moment, FF will be close enough to 30% with FG behind them in the mid 20s and Labour on the mid teens. Expressing that in hard numbers that equates to SF32%/FF28%/FG25%/Lab15%. Those numbers could be soft in places on the 1st count though with the various flavours ofd indos likely to take 4/5% before transferring back into the pool to put us back to those numbers above.
I honestly can’t see those FF and SF numbers shifting too much up or down, so the battle is really between FG and Labour to secure the best possible 3rd place position on the 1st count. If FG could get their % up sufficiently to be a neck ahead of FF then they might stand a chance but if they did it would mean the amount of Labour transfers were likely to be very limited indeed.
As for transfers, I can easily see Labour splitting pretty evenly between SF and FG (with perhaps a marginal % trend to FG, say 20NT 8% to FF, 38FG 34SF) and with FG not transferring much at all to anyone. Something we more traditionally associate with FF, though the Labour transfers to FG will largely carry on to SF ensuring the election of Pearse Doherty. I expect FF if it comes to it to not transfer much to anyone at all with in excess of 50% NT at all. After that geography trumps all and Doherty would get the lions share of the remainder.
So it’s SF’s to lose in my view with FG caught by the same tribal vote ceiling as SF but only more so.
* which should be required viewing by everyone interested in politics. McBrearty’s reference to €8 bonds is fast becoming a mini-meme and reminded me of the 8 minute abs scene in There’s something about Mary. Bonds for €8, shocking stuff. There again if it was Jackie Healy Rae, he’d nearly refer to not caring if they were Euro Bonds, Brooke Bounds or James Bonds and then go on to top the poll. So I doubt this will do much harm to McBrearty. After all, if Labour’s policy free zone doesn’t bother ya why would a future piece of Labour’s lobby fodder not being precise about financial terminology bother ya.
** I couldn’t help but think it was a very differently accented more animated Ciaran Cuffe speaking at times.