Firstly, congratulations to Ivana Bacik and Labour. People forget, winning a by-election is a big deal because you have to basically get half the people to either vote for you or not actively against you.
Secondly, a tip of the hat to Virgin Media News Gavan Reilly (@Gavreilly) who created an absolutely superb tool for (access here) the count and after giving us a wealth of information not just on the count but where the votes come from. There’s some interesting stuff here. For example:
The spread of the Bacik vote, from respectable in low-income areas to very impressive in high-income areas shows how Bacik/Labour was seen as the safe vote, especially in the context of a possible challenge from Sinn Fein.
The fact that Fine Gael only did alright in one of the wealthiest constituencies in the country is an eye-opener into the Irish political psyche. On the one hand, wealthy people were very comfortable voting for an avowed socialist. On the other hand, they weren’t particularly nervous about it either. In short, is Labour now our Liberal Democrats?
It’s also worth noting that there were four districts where Sinn Fein got a whooping West Belfast style 59%-68% of the first preference vote. The other parties need to be careful that those areas do not become de facto no-go areas, with murals and reminders to other party canvassers that “this is a Sinn Fein” area. Some activists are saying this has been happening for a while already, and that the other parties just don’t seem to have access to the same paid resources SF has . Of course, Sinn Fein will say that the lack of attention by other parties is what has led to such a strong vote.
Let me also say that if the new Electoral Commission isn’t producing this sort of data at ward level for easily public consumption they’re not doing their job properly.
Finally: Fianna Fail’s poor performance once again confronts that party with a question it doesn’t want to ask itself: what is it actually for? If it didn’t exist it, would its current members create it? What is the unique thing non-FF members attribute to FF?