Same-Sex Marriage Referendum: Three Days Out

Hotting up now, a veritable avalanche of news every time I turn to Google. Despite the fact that most polls indicate that a huge majority – up to 80% or more – have already made up their minds, both sides continue to go for broke.

The announcement that 66’000 new voters have been added to the Irish electorate in the supplementary register is double edged for me. On the face of it, it’s great news, and a welcome return for the fantastic efforts of various organisations and individuals to get as many new voters registered as possible. And despite David Quinn’s desperate attempts to portray it as otherwise, the vast, vast majority of those new voters will be “Yes” voters. I’m literally thinking 90-95%. After all, the “No” side, very calculatingly, didn’t lift a finger to register new voters.

But, on the other hand, the Irish electorate has increased in size by just 2%, and a large number of eligible people have exercised their right to not take part in the democratic process. There are times when this enrages me, but there are also times when it just leaves me feeling rather sad, and this is one of those times. If we’re looking at a divorce referendum scenario, that 2% could make all the difference, but I’m hopeful that, in the event of a “Yes” vote, the margin of victory will be beyond that.

A major “No” talking point over the last 24 to 48 hours, spurred on by the Bishops classic letter from the pulpit, has been about schools. Despite the fact that all and sundry in authority have said otherwise, and continue to do so, the “No” side keep spouting the same old tired line. And even if the the line wasn’t nonsense, which it is, what would it matter? Teaching students about homosexuality!? In a society where it is a legal practise, and no longer looked down upon!? What is the county coming to!?

I mean, the “No” side continually insists they have “no problem” with gay people. Unless, it seems, it involves telling children what being gay is. Then they have a gigantic problem. This is the “No” side. This is what “No” voters are opting for.

Lastly for today, an example of increasing international media attention on Ireland. It’s no small thing I suppose, potentially being the the first nation on this planet to legalise SSM, but the Guardian has a more cynical approach to the story, wondering if the polls might be wrong. Part of me is starting to sense a certain bit of hedging bets in all of these reports, like if the vote goes “No” unexpectedly the media won’t look like they were caught out.

But regardless, I found this article interesting because of a fact that it points out, that has gone little reported elsewhere:

If there is a low turnout on Friday then the outcome could be closer than implied in polls because older age groups are generally more likely to vote. But support for yes is also strongest among the middle-class and urban voters, and weaker in rural constituencies (where only a minority intend to vote yes) and past referendums turnout among the former two groups tends to be higher compared with the latter.

Very important to remember I feel. Ireland’s cities and urban areas will vote “Yes”, and there’s more people in them than there is in the countryside. A strong turn-out in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway will leave the “Yes” vote in a match point position, with what affirmative votes from the countryside that exists – a minority perhaps, but I sincerely believe it won’t be that much of a minority – providing the coup de grace.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at that divorce referendum by constituency. Dublin, Cork and Limerick cities provided the vast bulk of the “Yes” voters, with commuter heavy counties like Wicklow, Kildare and Louth providing much of the rest.  Rural counties nearly all voted “No”. And the rural counties lost.

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