Wednesday 21 February 2018

Analysis: Election 2016 Transfer Patterns

* Fine Gael secure 54% of their own transfers as well as 53pc of those of Labour candidates
* Constituencies with only one candidate impact Labours ability to secure transfer votes
* Sinn Féin get best reward from Right to Change alliance

Dr Mick Kerrigan

Dr Mick Kerrigan

Securing surplus votes from your party running mates, and being transfer friendly to other candidates in your constituency can make the difference between winning or losing a seat. There has been considerable talk prior to the election about vote management in many parties, so lets see how transfers have played out so far in Election 2016.

Looking at all transfers as one national pot. Fine Gael have been most successful at gaining transfers, receiving 24% of all transferred votes. Fianna Fáil are next with 15%, followed by Independents on 14%, Sinn Féin on 12%, and Labour with a poor showing on 7%.

The chart below shows the parties with votes to be transferred on the left hand side, and the parties receiving those votes across the top. For example, when Fianna Fáil candidates were elected or eliminated, 27% of the votes to be transferred were received by another Fianna Fáil candidate. These transfer patterns are based on the counts to date and will continue to evolve as more counts arrive.

Both Fine Gael and Labour were pushing the electorate to vote for the government parties as a block. While FG have had a poor performance in the first preference votes, this strategy has enabled them to win some well needed seats; however with Labour only running one candidate in many constituencies they have not benefited from the transfers of their own candidates.

Vote Transfer Patterns Between Parties
Vote Transfer Patterns Between Parties

Looking at the government parties as a whole, 60% of all transfers coming from FG or Lab candidates went back to FG or Lab candidates; however Fine Gael have certainly faired better than Labour receiving 54% of that 60%.

Another interesting agreement before the election was the alignment of People Before Profit and Anti-Austerity Alliance (PBP-AAA) with Sinn Féin through the Right to Change campaign. Sinn Féin have historically been quite transfer unfriendly, but in this instance they have secured 23% of their own transfers, as well as 28% of the transfers from PBP-AAA.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have traded transfers across the country, with 18% of FF transfers going to FG candidates and 16% of FG transfers going to FF candidates. Putting civil war politics aside, this is unsurprising given the short distance between them on the political scale.

The Green Party, Social Democrats and Renua have presented themselves as alternatives to the bigger parties and have performed well getting 9.9% of the first preference vote between them. This has translated to five seats secured so far, two for the Green Party and three for the Social Democrats; However, all three of these parties have transferred heavily back to Fine Gael, Labour, and Fianna Fáil, indicating that while voters may want a change, they will stay with the status quo if that change is too severe.

This analysis of transfers does come with a health warning. Due to the manner in which we eliminate candidates in our Proportional Representation electoral system (PR-STV), it is not possible to interrogate the transfers in cases where multiple candidates are eliminated on the same count. Therefore only single candidate eliminations are included in this analysis, along with all surplus distributions.

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