FF is second-biggest party - poll
Fianna Fáil has bounced back to become the second-biggest party in the State for the first time in more than two years, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.
Since its disastrous general election performance 18 months ago, Fianna Fáil has frequently found itself in fourth place in opinion polls behind Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin.
Fianna Fáil is now narrowly ahead of Sinn Féin and well ahead of Labour, having gained a substantial level of support over the course of 2012.
Fine Gael has dropped a point since the last Irish Times poll in May while Labour is up two.
Satisfaction with the Government is down six points, while satisfaction with all the main party leaders has dropped. Taoiseach Enda Kenny is the most popular party leader.
When people were asked who they would vote for if a general election was held tomorrow, the figures for party support compared with the last Irish Times poll – when undecided voters are excluded – were: Fine Gael, 31 per cent (down one point); Labour, 12 per cent (up two); Fianna Fáil, 21 per cent (up four points); Sinn Féin, 20 per cent (down four points); Green Party, 2 per cent (no change); and Independents/Others, 14 per cent (down one point).
The survey was undertaken on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies.
The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.
The core vote for the parties compared with the last Irish Times poll was: Fine Gael, 20 per cent (down three points); Labour, 8 per cent (no change); Fianna Fáil, 14 per cent (up two points); Sinn Féin, 14 per cent (down four points); Green Party, 1 per cent (no change); Independents/Others, 10 per cent (down one point); and undecided voters, 33 per cent (up five points).
The number of undecided voters at one-third of the electorate is very high, but it reflects the fact the Government is just 18 months into its term and a general election is not regarded as likely for a long time.
The jump of four points in support for Fianna Fáil since the last poll at the end of May looks even more impressive when in the context of a seven-point increase since the first Irish Times poll of 2012, conducted in April.
Sinn Féin has slipped significantly since the last poll, which had put it in second place to Fine Gael. That poll was conducted near the end of the referendum campaign on the fiscal treaty, and absence of the massive television and radio exposure the party obtained due to broadcast rules for referendums has seen a decline in its support.
There will be some relief in Labour that the steady decline in party support over the past two years has been halted with a modest increase of two points, despite the negative publicity that surrounded the resignation of the party’s junior health minister Róisín Shortall.
Fine Gael has again slipped marginally, for the third poll in a row, but the party is still comfortably ahead of all other Dáil parties and not far off its general election performance.
The fact there has been a marginal improvement in the combined support of the two Government parties may be some compensation for a serious decline of six points to 21 per cent in the Government’s satisfaction rating.
All of the party leaders in the Dáil have seen a decline in their satisfaction rating since June, with the biggest loser being Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, down eight points.
The other party leaders in the Dáil have each dropped three points, with Mr Kenny the most popular, on the relatively low rating of 33 per cent.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has seen his rating improve by two points, but only to 12 per cent. His party, which remains stuck on 2 per cent, is still struggling to make an impact in the absence of Dáil representation.
Support for Independents and smaller parties has dropped by one point to 14 per cent.