This had been written as a analysis piece on latest Aras11 opinion polls, but just didn’t make the cut today
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result each time.”
Depending on where you look this quote is attributed to Albert Einstein, Confucius Benjamin Franklin or Rita Mae Brown.
Whatever the true source, it is becoming increasing clear that no one in either the Higgins for President or Labour Party head quarters has heard it.
Two weeks ago, just after the fRedC poll picked up on the first wave of the surge of support to Sean Gallagher I warned here that the black ops against him would start, just as they had with Mary Davis.
And haven’t they just.
For almost two weeks we have seen daily reminders that Sean Gallagher had been a member of Fianna Fáil: that he had considered running for Fianna Fáil: that he still knew people in Fianna Fáil and that he might even like some of these people in Fianna Fáil.
The net result of almost two weeks of constantly pillorying and haranguing him about his Fianna Fáil associations has been an even great swing in support to him.
Two weeks of branding him as a latent or closet FF-er who probably eats his dinner in the middle of the day and the three latest opinion polls show Gallagher enjoying a solid double digit lead over Higgins.
And what is the response of Higgins’ supporters to the news that their man is now further behind Gallagher than he was last week? They go online and redouble their attacks on Gallagher.
Insanity or what? Desperation possibly? Someone urgently needs to change the script in Higgins’ HQ. It is not just that the tactic is not working: it is seriously backfiring.
Just recall how, a few weeks ago, Higgins was reaching out to Fianna Fáil voters saying that he knew that most of them were decent and honourable people. Gay Mitchell tried that strategy too, but it was never going to work for a solid dyed in the wool Fine Gael-er like him.
It did, however, look for a short while like the approach might pay off for Michael D. though. The RED C poll that first signalled a swing to Gallagher also showed that more Fianna Fáil voters supported Higgins than Gallagher.
Well that is not the case anymore, thanks to the campaign’s tactics.
The Higgins campaign went from reaching out to that 17% of voters who stuck with FF in February to vilifying and attacking them. Worse still they got their own candidate in on the act. Have they never heard of second and third preferences?
Did they not see the damage Gay Mitchell did to himself and his campaign from being his own attack dog?
Labour has managed to change their own candidate from appearing as a calm, knowledgeable; slightly aloof, elder statesman figure into an old fashioned Labour party machine candidate who is starting to look and act desperate.
It will be interesting in the final TV debate tonight to see if Higgins compounds the mistakes of the past few days or tries to reach out to that 17% in some way.
It could be that his team will try a totally different tack and make a play for Martin McGuinness’s number 2s. In which case do not expect hear the names of Pte Patrick Kelly or Det Jerry McCabe pass his lips.