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Exit polls predict huge re-election for Higgins with Casey jumping to second

The exit poll backs up numerous pre-ballot polls which predicted a huge win for Higgins.

The exit poll predicts another seven years for the incumbent.
The exit poll predicts another seven years for the incumbent.

Updated Oct 26th 2018, 11:19 PM

TWO EXIT POLLS have predicted that Michael D Higgins has been re-elected as president with over 55% of the vote.

The exit polls were released minutes after voting closed at 10pm and back up numerous pre-ballot polls which predicted the incumbent would win on the first count.

The exit polls also suggest that former Dragons Den investor Peter Casey has come from bottom of the polls to come in second place with about 21% of the vote.

An Irish Times exit poll was conducted by Ipsos/MRBI and surveyed 4,500 respondents at 160 polling stations in every constituency.

The full results were as follows:

  • Peter Casey – 21%
  • Gavin Duffy – 2%
  • Joan Freeman – 6%
  • Sean Gallagher – 7%
  • Michael D Higgins – 56%
  • Liadh Ní Riada – 8%

An RTÉ exit poll also released after the polls closed has predicted very similar results. 

Both exit polls also predicted a Yes vote in the referendum to delete blasphemy from the Constitution. 

PastedImage-84117 Source: Twitter/RTÉ News

If the exit polls are correct and Higgins has secured over 56% of the vote, it could be the largest ever first preference vote ever in a presidential election, challenging the 56.3% received by Éamon de Valera in 1959.

The result will mean that Higgins, who has been a politician since the 1960s but was first elected in 1973, will have a sixth decade in elected office. 

Higgins was first elected to the presidency seven years ago as a Labour candidate and party leader Brendan Howlin TD has led the congratulations this evening.

“While the votes still have to be counted, Michael D Higgins’s clearly apparent victory in the Presidential election based on the exit poll is entirely merited. He has been an exemplary president for seven years, and there is no one better to represent the people of Ireland during the next seven,” Howlin said.

Michael D Higgins showed a rare depth of sensibility during the recent centenary commemorations, and he has the authority and authenticity to speak for us all at the sensitive memorials yet to come.

Casey’s surge to second place in the exit poll comes after pre-ballot opinion polls had put his support level as low as 1% just two weeks ago. 

In the interim, Casey has courted significant controversy and was accused of racism for several comments he made about the Travelling Community.

Casey rejected the recognition of Traveller ethnicity and said it was “nonsense” to say he was racist.

He was also the most vocal critic of Higgins during several debates during the campaign.

In the hour after the exit polls were released Gavin Duffy was the only to acknowledge the results, noting that he came in sixth place and thanking his supporters. 

“Thank you to those who voted for me. I value every vote. I wish our President every good wish for his second term,” Duffy tweeted


Both exit polls predicted that the proposal to delete the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution has been comfortably passed.

The Irish Times exit poll has it passing by 69% to 31% while the RTÉ exit poll has it passing by 71% to 29%.

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Rónán Duffy

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