Ivan Yates: This is one Kenny can't lose -- but doubts linger
Enda Kenny has one personal distinction in this election. He is the sole candidate fighting his 12th campaign. He will recall fierce headwinds against Fine Gael in 1977, 1987 and 2002, resulting in landslide defeats. In all previous elections, it was Fianna Fail versus the rest. Not so this time. The doorstep mantra is "anyone but FF". Kenny's FG enjoys the strongest tailwind ever.
This contest started on November 22, when the Greens gave notice of pulling the plug. The longest foreplay in electoral history has been most uninspiring. Sideshows of television debates, opinion polls and leaders' tours are of marginal relevance to the outcome. Key question? Can Kenny seal the deal. Bookies and betting exchanges will only give a 5pc rate of return on Kenny to be Taoiseach (odds of 1/20).
At the risk of being accused of blueshirt baggage, it seems inconceivable that he will not be elected Taoiseach on March 9. Stand back and compare the 2007 result. FG underperformed in the second half of the campaign, with Enda blamed for a poor leaders' debate performance. Their first preference outcome was 28pc. Fianna Fail has since dropped from 42pc to a current rating in the mid-teens. This collapse of more than 22pc is unprecedented.