The election failed to be the main story of February 2016
When Enda called the General Election, news editors began to fill the newspaper columns, political blogs and radio airwaves with GE16 coverage. According to Google, there were over three times as many news articles (over 15,000) about the General Election as there were compared to any other major story in February (e.g. Dublin's Gangland shooting).
However, this level of coverage did not match the level of public engagement.
Number of news stories (Google Search)
People had concerns beyond the election
When we spoke with a nationally representative panel of 1,000 people about what stories they were aware of and what stories had importance in their life, the Irish general election was not at the top of the list. While the leaders debates, the return of Fianna Fáil and the fall of Labour were all in the top five news stories of February 2016, it was a British news story which was more important to people.
While receiving a minimal level of news coverage, the possibility of Britain leaving the EU was rated as the story most Irish people were aware of and the story which people said had great importance. This indicates that Irish people are acutely aware (9 in 10) of the impact of global politics. While it is early on in the referendum campaign about Britain leaving the EU, Irish people are engaged with this story and the impact an exit might have.
As a nation, we consume a lot of English media (news and entertainment) and at times can be closer to English pop culture (Coronation St and Downtown Abbey) than our own. The political actions of our nearest neighbour are clearly on our radar.
A story which appeared in the UK media (including specials on BBC and Sky News) was also the second highest scoring story ahead of the General Election (scoring 69). The shootings by Dublin's Drug Gangs shocked Irish people. 91% of the population were aware of this story and applied a high importance to the situation.
Falling off the Rugby Bandwagon
Less people are engaged with this year's Six Nations compared to the same tournament last year. In 2015, 82% of people were aware, scoring it 75 in importance. This has dropped to 74% awareness and 69 in terms of importance. With less success in this year's season, have some Irish people turned away from supporting the sport and moved to something else. We have tracked Conor McGregor to see if this is the new bandwagon in town.
Bruce ahead of Beyonce & Drumm's Transformation
There was more excitement about Springsteen playing Croker than Beyonce playing the Super Bowl with Bruce scoring 33.4 compared to Beyonce 21. Elsewhere in America, David Drumm's extradition story was scored higher in terms of importance than this year's Operation Transformation. The health and fitness programme continues to lose interest amongst Irish people year on year.
Finally, poor Kanye.
Despite 1% of Irish people telling us last week he should be our next Taoiseach, more Irish people were aware about Taylor Swift speaking out against his sexist remarks in contrast to the release of his new album and fashion collection. It seems his fashion collection is less interesting than his sexist and graphic lyrics.