The poll results reveal a stark difference in voting preferences between students who support left wing and centre-left parties (defined here as the Green Party, the Social Democrats, Sinn Féin, Labour and Solidarity-PBP) and those supporting centre-right, right wing and socially conservative parties (Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Aontú and the Irish Freedom Party). When only votes from the latter group are considered, the projected outcomes of the Education, Welfare and Ents races are reversed – the female candidates who lead in those three races drop behind their male challengers.
Similarly, the President and University Times Editor contests become significantly closer under this framework. Leah Keogh’s 45-point lead drops to just 20 points, and Peter Caddle’s level of support more than triples to 31.6%. The Communications and Marketing election also tightens, with almost a quarter of students supporting comparatively right wing and socially conservative parties voting for RON over Aoife Cronin.
Conversely, among students who support centre-left and left wing parties, the likely results as indicated by the overall poll become even more decisive. Bev Genockey, Sierra Mueller-Owens and Antonia Brady’s leads in the Education, Welfare and Ents races respectively all increase by five to seven points. Leah Keogh, Aoife Cronin and Emer Moreau also see bumps in their levels of support through this lens.
Despite there having been few outwardly partisan-political issues of contention in any races bar that for University Times Editor, students with different political views clearly assess prospective sabbatical officers in different ways.
When it comes to how represented students feel by the SU, there is also a political divide, albeit not as straightforward a one as you might think. Students who support parties on the right are more likely to feel somewhat or very dissatisfied with how represented they are by TCDSU – 26%, as opposed to just 16% for those on the left. However, they’re almost exactly as likely to feel well or very well represented – 46% gave those answers, compared to 44% of left-voting students, with that difference well within the margin of error.
So while right-voting students are more likely to feel under-represented, this does not mean left-voting students are more likely to feel well-represented. The difference is that left-voting students more often report feeling neutral about TCDSU – 38% say they are “ambivalent” about the union’s representation of them, as opposed to just 28% of right-voting respondents. The questions of how well the union acts as a voice for students and which students it represents best will continue to be contentious ones no doubt, but they defy simple answers