Fine Gael's Director of Elections MEP Brian Hayes says today's result looks "very disappointing".
The admission comes as exit polls show Fine Gael on course for only 25-26% of first preferences, well below the last pre-election poll, and well below what will be required to return the current coalition.
However, Hayes remains confident the final result will prove better than it looks at present for Fine Gael, as the significant number of votes for independent candidates and smaller parties will not result in seats.
Speaking on Newstalk Lunchtime, he disagreed with Jonathan Healy's contention that Fine Gael had thrown away the election in the final days - with Enda Kenny's gaffes on 'whingers' and John McNulty partly to blame.
Hayes pointed to polls in January and the last local and European elections, saying there was widespread dissatisfaction with the Government.
RTE's exit poll predicts Fine Gael will receive 20% of second preferences, which Hayes says offers hope:
"It may well be that people were disappointed with the government, didn't give us their 1, but gave us their 2".
He credited the Government for making difficult decisions, and hit out at its critics:
"Politics is about making decisions rather than being justa hurler on the ditch, being populist and being against everything".
Hayes is tight-lipped when it comes to predicting the next Government, but believes Fine Gael will be the biggest party once all votes are counted. Any speculation is just "folly", he says.