Monday 19 March 2018

Over a quarter of voters switched first preference vote in final week

The debates

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

THE fallout from Sean Gallagher's involvement in a €5,000-a-head Fianna Fail fundraiser influenced how over half the electorate voted in the presidential election.

Mr Gallagher's confession on RTE's 'Frontline' debate of contacts with a convicted fuel smuggler -- following the Irish Independent's revelations of his role in the fundraiser for Taoiseach Brian Cowen -- caused a mass exodus of support, according to a poll of voters.

A whopping 28pc of voters switched first preference in the final week of the campaign.

Of these, 58pc deserted Mr Gallagher and moved largely en masse to Michael D Higgins.

And Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell was right about one thing -- a lot of people do make up their mind late in the campaign.

Just over half of voters chose who to vote for in the final 10 days of the campaign, with 38pc saying they decided in the final two or three days, and 13pc in the week before that.

The controversy following the TV debate was unquestionably the deciding factor in the presidential election and prompted his dramatic collapse.

More than half said it affected their decision on who to vote for, with 35pc saying it influenced them a lot, 30pc said a little and 45pc said it made no difference, according to the Red C poll for RTE.

Irish Independent

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