The vital wards for general election predictions
Aside from the overall results, certain "barometer constituencies" will be important for the Coalition parties to assess the threats posed in the next general election.
Here are the ones to watch for the government.
Birr in Offaly: A combination of boundary changes, defections and declining support levels means FG faces a challenge to hold seats in a number of rural constituencies at the next general election. A strong FG vote in the western part of that constituency, which is mainly covered by the Birr electoral area, will be crucial in that regard. A poor result here would not bode well for Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy's chances at the next general election.
Dublin City Council
North Inner City ward: The result here might say a lot about Paschal Donohoe's chances of holding his seat in the radically changed, and decidedly less middle-class, Dublin Central at the next general election. It is also a useful measure in terms of how FG might expect to fare in the other mainly working-class constituencies in the capital. If FG struggles to hold a seat in this eight-seat constituency, then they must expect to face even greater struggles in smaller working-class Dublin constituencies.
Cork City Council, South West ward: Labour holds seven seats on Cork City Council. But the average constituency size is much smaller than in the rest of the State, making the party vulnerable to swings in their support levels. The constituency in which Labour enjoys its best prospect of holding a seat is Cork City South West, is not helped by Michael Ahern's retirement. A loss here might suggest the party is at risk of losing its seats in any or all of the other Cork City wards.
Labour will be hoping the popularity of local TD Brendan Howlin might help them weather the storm in some constituencies at these local elections and at the next general election in the Wexford Town electoral area. Given that this is a 10-seat constituency, Labour will want to take two seats here. If they take just one seat, they will be disappointed. If they fail to win any seat at all here, then they are facing a national meltdown.
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