Day 21 of the Campaign and all is changed utterly.
The third poll in a row, showing Sinn Féin rising, comes from the Irish Times MRBI house. This is the poll it used to be said of, that if MRBI tell you you're dead, phone the undertaker. And tonight it came back with a result unlike any before. Sinn Féin came in at the top of the poll, ahead of FF and with FG trailing in third place.
Sinn Féin just don't have enough candidates to capitalise on this result. You need 80 for a Government majority. They only have 42 candidates. Either their voters are nudged to keep voting down the ballot for non FF/FG candidates or a 5 year role as the largest opposition party to a Grand FF/FG Coalition looms.
Tragedy in Tipp
A candidate has died in Tipperary. Campaigning has been suspended. As there are still days to go to the vote, the nominations will now be reopened and that constituancy will vote about two weeksafter the rest of the country.
Given the numbers in the poll, can we expect a second SF candidate to be added to the ticket?
FG's Living Post Mortum
What happened, we might expect FG to be asking itself. Falling to third place, with a hazardous excess of candidates threatening potential disaster, and yet... and yet... there's no sign Fine Gael is capable of asking that question. This is a party which has spent 87 years waiting for the electorate to admit it was wrong and FG was right. And now, as the electoral mud slides unpredictably around it, reshaping the landscape, burying certainty it apparently plans... to spend the last few days stressing Brexit. This is some next-level anti-politics.
Let's pause a moment to think. Not about FG's failures of action and message, which are too many to fit into this small newsletter, but about how this Sinn Féin surge is being presented. SF are the same party they were a few short months ago when they lost a bunch of Euro and Local seats. What's happened?
Well, the answer lies across with FF and FG. FG have managed, through force of personality, to repel the voters who had plumped for them as the means by which FF had to be unseated. Fianna Fáil have taken up residence in the low 20s of support. It's not going away, but the other 20-25% it used to have isn't coming back.
Sinn Féin are inheriting the Kick the Bums out bloc. Its hard to hold on to as the past suggests that, when it's with you, you better not do anything but BumKick your way forward. But, with the shortfall in cadidates from its own party, it might be time for them to call for some BumKick Transfers.