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 Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes

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PostSubject: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Wed May 28, 2008 7:42 pm

Our elected representatives are by definition the people who are most expert at getting votes, which is their main agenda. An interesting study has confirmed that the vast majority of us votes for the politician who has (or who we believe has) fixed the pothole on the corner of our road. The main findings are that the personal doorstep canvass is by far the most influential thing and that local not national actions are valued by voters when they cast their vote. It is hardly surprising that it is hard to get a turn out for European votes. The most interesting finding perhaps is that the electorate uses national votes to punish and reward candidates, rather than selects on the basis of policy programmes for government.

This is the Breakingnews.ie report:

28/05/2008 - 13:55:59

Fixing potholes still gets TDs elected to the Dáil, a new book claims today.
'The Irish Voter', written by four university academics, claims to be the biggest-ever study of its kind on behaviour at the ballot boxes.

It includes a major survey of 2,500 people on their voting behaviour in the 2002 General Election. Co-author Michael Marsh said: "Politicians are professionals. They know what gets them elected and it's not performing in the Dáil. It's fixing potholes. It's knocking on doors."

The book explores long-term influences on voting such as family loyalties to parties and short-term factors such as the state of the economy, party leaders and local candidates. It also analyses voter turnout and what causes people not to cast their ballots.

Mr Marsh, who is professor of comparative political behaviour at the School of Social Science and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, also said that the Lisbon Treaty referendum will be won or lost on the doorsteps.

"Our research underlines the importance of the door-to-door canvas in winning support and getting out the vote, which may also hold lessons for both the pro and the anti-Lisbon campaigns," he explained.

"Many people will not vote in this referendum, but as the book shows there are no easy answers to the question of why participation is not higher."

Mr Marsh also claimed that a popular party leader will not guarantee electoral success in the long-term.

"Leaders can help their parties, but effects are marginal, even in the case of Bertie Ahern. He added: "In Ireland, elections are seen as mechanisms for holding governments accountable for what they have done rather than for instructing them in what they should do.

"Even then, the degree of candidate-centred voting weakens any potential link between elections and national policy".

The other co-authors are Richard Sinnott, John Garry and Fiachra Kennedy.

'The Irish Voter: The Nature Of Electoral Competition In The Republic Of Ireland' will be launched in Trinity College tonight by broadcaster and political commentator, Olivia O'Leary. Co-author Mr Sinnott is associate professor at the UCD School of Politics and International Relations. Mr Garry of Queen's University Belfast and Fiachra Kennedy of the UCD Geary Institute also contributed.


You might say we didn't need a study to tell ourselves that.
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Wed May 28, 2008 9:11 pm

Various remarks to that effect have been made...still, I might buy that.
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 12:35 am

Marsh and Sinnott are v good academics and, being something of a political nerd, I have a collection of Marsh's General Election studies on the shelf. However, I hope and trust there's a lot more in that book, as it's all been said before, not least in Marsh's own books.

Anyone who has ever done a canvas knows all of the points mentioned in the Breaking News article are basic facts of life. I would hope that Marsh would have some interesting new stats on the under-40s. Or is he really saying that nothing has changed or is likely to change in the near future? Cripes, as Mayor Boris might say.
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 12:56 am

Where I live anyone, young or old, who knocks the doors conscientiously stands a fair change of topping the poll in the local elections. Any politician who takes their eye off the ball and shift focus for more than a week or two from local to national, or worse international politics is out of the revolving door at the next election. People want to feel there is a strong head to the tribe who'll look after them.

Most Irish politicians focus 80 per cent of their time on nurturing individual votes, or they would not be politicians for long. I think the only way they'll change is if circumstances change our priorities to bigger, more long term things than potholes.


Last edited by cactus flower on Thu May 29, 2008 1:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 1:03 am

Agree 100%
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 1:19 am

I was about to say they have known this for years and it is Richard Sinnott who is the expert on it... then I read down the report and saw that he is one of the co-authors. He has another book on a similar subject called "Irish Voters Decide" which was published around the mid 1990s and tracks electoral trends in Ireland back to 1918. Anyone who has done a politics degree in UCD will know Professor Sinnott's graphs very well!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 2:01 am

cactus flower wrote:
Where I live anyone, young or old, who knocks the doors conscientiously stands a fair change of topping the poll in the local elections. Any politician who takes their eye off the ball and shift focus for more than a week or two from local to national, or worse international politics is out of the revolving door at the next election. People want to feel there is a strong head to the tribe who'll look after them.

Most Irish politicians focus 80 per cent of their time on nurturing individual votes, or they would not be politicians for long. I think the only way they'll change is if circumstances change our priorities to bigger, more long term things than potholes.

well said CF - and the only way this will change is the implenation of real local government and the national system to go to a list system where the ideas and policies of the party win out over the need to mollycoddle local interests which would be catered for by local government.

Given the uproar over the commissioner issue re EU - I have more chance of winning the next "come dancing on ice" in Hell than any of the above happening in my lifetime.
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 2:11 am

As a secondary-school pupil so many moons ago, I'm sure I heard Tom Barrington on RTE and read him in the IT in school on all of this ... what's changed?

However, you cannot only blame politicians. It is such an inherent part of Irish culture. Some tiny steps have been taken - once upon a time, it would've been impossible to envisage the split between Dail and council corepresentation, apologies if I use the wrong phrase, you know what I mean.
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 2:58 am

so the canvassing candidate come around and meet people for the first time and promise the earth and they get elected, is that the benefit of canvassing?
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PostSubject: Re: Study of Why We Vote: Yes - It is Potholes   Thu May 29, 2008 3:22 am

No - would that it were that easy!!

Hard, slogging work is needed, to establish yourself and to maintain that position. That's the huge difference, for eg, between Ireland and Britain. Obviously it ultimately comes down to the very different electoral systems. A huge proportion of people here in the UK have no idea who their MP is, let alone their local reps.

I honestly feel Irish politicians have to work a helluva lot harder to "stay in the game" so to speak. (I'm leaving aside all arguments about the high level of representation, quality of individual reps and all assoc'd arguments).

Miss that funeral, don't offer to buy that round of drinks, forget to canvass so-and-so (even though you know he's voted for you for the last xx years anyway and he knows you well) ... dead in the water - potentially. Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes
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