Labour targets 'Ashbourne Annie' to win election
Published 26/07/2015 | 02:30
Labour has identified a floating voter which it believes can save the party from political ruin.
She is a young stay-at-home mother of two school children living within Dublin's commuter belt and strategists have officially dubbed her 'Ashbourne Annie'.
Tanaiste Joan Burton's backroom team are pinning their election hopes on 'Annie', whom they plan to woo with promises of a little bit more money in her pocket to go out at the weekends with her husband and friends.
Market research companies describe Annie as the "classic floating voter" who can still be swayed by pre-election promises.
And Labour believes it knows how to lure her to give the party a number one or even what could be a vital number two vote.
Ashbourne Annie lost her job during the recession and now stays home looking after her primary school children.
Her husband works hard but his wages were cut during the recession and the family is struggling to make mortgage payments on what was once their ideal home.
The four-bedroom semi-detached house was bought near the top of the property market and is now in negative equity, but rising property prices have eased that particular burden.
During the good times, Annie regularly went out for a meal with her husband and a few drinks with friends.
But as the purse strings were tightened, such nights out became less regular and Annie does not get to see her friends as often.
This year's budget saw a slight increase in her husband's take home pay and the family had a little bit more disposable income. They discussed going on holiday with the kids and went out for a meal on Annie's birthday. It gave her a lift and she is beginning to believe the economy has turned a corner. More than anything, she would like to go to a weekend concert.
She is looking forward to next year's budget and the promise of more tax cuts and measures to help working families.
Annie would also like to go back to work and might start looking for a job if reforms of childcare costs allow it.
According to informed sources, Ashbourne Annie is the creation of months of research in preparation for what is set to be one of the most difficult elections in the party's history.
"It's a marketing term, she is the classic floating voter who all parties try to target - every party has their own Ashbourne Annie," a senior Labour source revealed.
The party recently held national policy forums around the country to gather the membership's views ahead of drafting the party's election manifesto.
Speaking at these events, Ms Burton made numerous references to helping families with young children, just like Annie's.
However, Labour strategists stress that they are not only targeting Annie's vote but also have their sights set on the ever increasing cohort of Independent voters.
The party hopes they will have convinced erstwhile party supporters who now vote Independent to return them back into office, alongside Fine Gael.
"When it comes to a general election, we will be offering stability to run a Government, along with Fine Gael and we hope to receive more of the support that is going to Independents," a source said.
Former Fine Gael director of elections Frank Flannery sparked the ire of some senior Labour members last week when he suggested an official voting pact between the Coalition partners.
Labour Junior Minister Kevin Humphrey's went as far as telling the Sunday Independent he believed Mr Flannery's comments were an "attempt to stay relevant" after being ousted from FG.
However, senior Labour sources have indicated that a vote transfer arrangement could be entered into in the run-up to the general election.