Saturday 20 July 2019

Furious FF set for showdown with RTE over exit poll

From left, Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne, leader Micheál Martin and deputy leader Dara Calleary. Photo:
From left, Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne, leader Micheál Martin and deputy leader Dara Calleary. Photo:
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fianna Fail is set for a showdown with senior RTE executives over a Red C exit poll which significantly underestimated the party's support in the local elections.

Fianna Fail's top brass are furious with the broadcaster over the publication of the exit poll on the night of the recent European and local elections.

The poll showed Fianna Fail and Fine Gael neck and neck in the local elections, with both parties holding 23pc of the national vote.

However, when all votes were counted, Fianna Fail held almost 27pc of the vote while Fine Gael held just above 25pc. Fianna Fail's final seat count was 279 while Fine Gael had 255 councillors elected.

Senior Fianna Fail figures have previously raised concerns with RTE exit polls which also underestimated the party's support in the 2014 local elections.

Before the most recent vote, Fianna Fail met with RTE's election steering committee to discuss the previous exit poll and other electoral matters.

Fianna Fail sources are concerned exit polls are "shaping a narrative" after elections by suggesting the party underperformed when in fact it won more seats than predicted.

Yesterday, the party's education spokesperson, Thomas Byrne, confirmed that Fianna Fail would be raising the exit poll with RTE and also called on polling companies to investigate why their research is underestimating Fianna Fail's public support.

"There will be a meeting with RTE. The issues we raised publicly will be raised with management, which was that the exit poll started a narrative which suggested we didn't do great but we actually came first. Fianna Fail is always underestimated in exit polls and RTE need to do something about that before the next election," Mr Byrne said.

"There was an investigation in the UK which was funded by the polling companies after a number of polls were off the mark and that is something that should be considered here too."

Sunday Independent

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