Sunday Independent misleads on poll results

“Poll: Give us Enda without Gilmore” was how the Sunday Independent yesterday headlined its lead story, reporting its latest poll results. The poll, however, found precisely the opposite. It found that more people would prefer a Fine Gael-Labour coalition (30%) to a Fine Gael overall majority or Fine Gael deal with Independents (28%). 

"Potentially the most significant finding today," ran the story, "is that more people say they would prefer Fine Gael to lead a government without Labour." However, what the poll showed was simply that more Fine Gael voters would prefer Fine Gael to lead a government without Labour – something that might be taken as reasonably obvious.

Inside the paper (p31), an analysis concluded that "more people favour Fine Gael in government without Labour than with Labour, a most significant finding."

This was based on the following calculation: "20% want a Fine Gael-Labour coalition... Just shy of that, 16% would prefer a Fine Gael majority; a further 12% say Fine Gael and Independents."

However, missing here was the key statistic, published just below this article, that a further 10% of people preferred a Labour-Fine Gael coalition with Labour as the lead partner.

In other words, more people (20 + 10 = 30) want a Fine Gael-Labour coalition than want Fine Gael without Labour (16 + 12 = 28).

The front page headline should have read: "Poll: Give us Enda and Gilmore." That, though, might have jarred somewhat with the banner across the top of the front page that read: "If you really want a single party government, vote for it," and with the second story that accused the unions of trying to "interfere" in the election by calling for a Labour-Fine Gael coalition government.

The poll results, from Millward Brown Lansdowne:

  • Fine Gael and Labour (FG led) 20%
  • Fine Gael overall majority 16%
  • Fine Gael and Independents 12%
  • Labour and Fine Gael (Lab led) 10%