Poll: Maguire set to win presidential race by the highest margin in recent years

While the University Times editor race has the narrowest margin by far, polling suggests other sabbatical races have a clear leading candidate

A poll conducted by Trinity News projects a landslide win for Jenny Maguire against opponent Ralph Balfe in the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) presidential race and is likely to secure the highest winning margin of any presidential candidate in recent years.

Eoghan Gilroy leads Sé Ó hEidhin by almost 40% in the education race, while Hamza Bana and Beth Strahan are the frontrunners in the highly-contested welfare & equality and communications & marketing races, respectively.

Both uncontested candidates, Peadar Walsh for entertainment (Ents) officer and Pádraig Mac Brádaigh for Irish language officer, are on the course for a comfortable win, while the race for University Times (UT) editor between Charlie Hastings and Brídín Ní Fherraigh-Joyce remains too close to call.

The poll was conducted among a representative sample of 724 students between 19 and 23 February, with the margin of error estimated at plus or minus 5%.


Jenny Maguire is set to receive an overwhelming majority of first preference votes in the race for TCDSU President. The former gender equality received 81.7% of first preferences among decided voters polled, while 13.9% of respondents indicated they would cast their vote for Ralph Balfe. Just 4.4% of respondents intend to vote to re-open nominations in the election for the union’s most senior role.

Maguire leads by a comfortable majority among all demographic groups, which grows to almost 90% among female and non-binary students and respondents who indicated they would vote for a left-wing party in a general election. Balfe, conversely, is strongest among male voters and respondents who indicated they would vote for a centre-right or right-wing party, though Maguire still leads among these groups. Male respondents are significantly more likely to vote to re-open nominations (RON) across all races, a pattern which may also translate into support for joke candidates. 

Maguire’s lead reflects an unconventional race, in which her opponent has primarily supported rather than challenged her candidacy. With only 27% of respondents undecided, and Balfe’s campaign attracting voters who might otherwise have voted RON, the race for President appears headed for a landslide victory for Maguire.


In the first contested race for education officer since 2021, Eoghan Gilroy holds a sizable lead over Sé Ó hEidhin, polling at 65.4%. Ó hEidhin received 26.1% of first preferences, while 8.5% of respondents indicated they would vote to re-open nominations in this race. 

Although current Arts, Humanities and Social Science (AHSS) convenor Gilroy leads among all demographics, Ó hEidhin is most popular with STEM students and students who indicated they would vote for a left-wing party in a general election, polling at 40.1% with both groups. 

A strong STEM turnout could narrow the gap between the two experienced candidates, and with almost 53% of respondents undecided in this race, there’s room for Ó hEidhin to win over voters before the polls close on Thursday. However, Gilroy’s 39-point lead indicates a near-certain victory.

Welfare & Equality

Ethnic Minorities Officer Hamza Bana is the clear leader in the welfare & equality race, polling almost 30 points ahead of Off-Campus Officer Hannah McAuley. With 56.2% of first preference votes, Bana looks set to be elected on the first count in a race that has drawn attention for controversy surrounding candidate Nathan Harrington. 

McAuley received 28.2% of first preferences among decided voters, while the option to re-open nominations received 3.6%. Harrington is currently polling at 12%, with most of his support coming from students who have not held a position within TCDSU and who indicated they would support a centre-right or right-wing party in a general election. 

Bana is favoured by students in all year groups and faculties, with the exception of health science (HS) students, who were more likely to indicate a preference for McAuley. However, with a sample size of just 23 HS students decided in this race, the margin of error is too large to draw broader conclusions from this statistic. 

Communications & Marketing

Beth Strahan leads the highly contested communications & marketing race with 43.2% of first preferences among decided voters, followed by Connor Dempsey at 30.1% and Sarah Murnane at 22.7%, while just 4% of respondents intend to vote to re-open nominations. 

Engagement Officer Connor Dempsey is the most popular with students who have held a position within the union, polling at 41.9% among this group which accounts for one-fifth of poll respondents. 

With no candidate set to reach a majority on the first count, this commonality between Strahan and Murnane’s voters may determine the outcome of the race. Analysis of additional preferences indicates that about two-thirds of Sarah Murnane’s voters would cast their second preference for Strahan over Dempsey, indicating a path to victory for the Trinity Musical Theatre director in a second or third round after the elimination of re-open nominations (RON) and Murnane.

Oifigeach na Gaeilge

Pádraig Mac Brádaigh will be elected as TCDSU’s first ever full-time oifigeach na Gaeilge (Irish language officer) with an overwhelming majority of first preferences, polling indicates. The current part-time Oifigeach na Gaeilge is polling at 94.4% compared to 5.6% for the option to re-open nominations.

The position of Oifigeach na Gaeilge was introduced in a referendum earlier this year, alongside other measures to give equal status to the Irish language within the union, which passed by a landslide 90% majority amid notably high voter turnout for a union referendum. Mac Brádaigh, who proposed the motion to hold the referendum and led the campaign for a Yes vote, is the sole candidate in the race.

The widespread support for the referendum appears likely to translate to support for Mac Brádaigh’s uncontested bid, which could see him receive the highest margin of any sabbatical candidate in recent history. No candidate in an uncontested race has received over 92% of first preference votes in at least the last six years.


Peadar Walsh is set for a straightforward win as the sole candidate in the race for Ents officer with 81.8% of first preferences among decided voters. Despite a RON vote of 18.2%, the highest of any race in this poll, the current JCR Ents officer has majority support among all demographics and polls particularly strongly with Junior Fresh and Senior Fresh students. 

The University Times (UT)

Charlie Hastings has a 6-point lead over Brídin Ní Fhearraigh-Joyce in the race for University Times (UT) Editor, the narrowest margin of any race in this election period.

Hastings, who currently serves as chair of the editorial for UT, received 48.7% of first preferences among poll respondents ahead of Ní Fhearraigh-Joyce, current deputy news editor of UT and former TN2 editor on 42.5%. RON received 8.8% of first preferences

Support for the two candidates appears to be split along demographic lines, with male respondents favouring Hastings at 54.9% and female and non-binary respondents slightly favouring Ní Fhearraigh-Joyce at 45.5% and 66.7% respectively. Respondents who have held a position in TCDSU are more likely to cast their first preference for Hastings or RON than for Ní Fhearraigh-Joyce, though among the larger group of students who have not held a TCDSU position the gap between the two candidates is within the margin of error. 

The closeness of the race suggests that the UT editor race is likely to go to a second round, where Hastings’ slight lead in first preferences makes him the candidate most likely to be elected following the redistribution of RON votes. 

Maggie Larson

Maggie Larson is a Computational Journalist for Trinity News, and a former Deputy Societies Editor.