‘Irish Times’ poll: Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil almost level

Sinn Féin support up four points since December to 21%, with Labour down two to 4%

The percentage of the public that supports the various groupings according to an ‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI poll.

The percentage of the public that supports the various groupings according to an ‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI poll.

 

Support for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is almost equal while Sinn Féin has shown some gains since December, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.

The poll shows that despite the political controversies of recent weeks, which prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to indicate to his party he will step down in the coming weeks, many voters remain unmoved, with most of the changes in party support within the margin of error since the last poll in early December.

The one exception is Sinn Féin, which sees its support rise by four points to 21 per cent, the party’s highest rating since 2015.

When people were asked who they would vote for in a general election, party support, when undecided voters were excluded, was: Fine Gael, 28 per cent (up one point compared with the result of the December poll); Fianna Fáil, 29 per cent (down one point); Labour, 4 per cent (down two points); Sinn Féin, 21 per cent (up four points) and Independents/Others, 18 per cent (down two points).

The survey was conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a representative sample of 1,200 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 2.8 per cent.

Core vote

The core vote for the parties, before undecideds were excluded, compared with the last Irish Times poll in December, was: Fine Gael, 21 per cent (no change); Fianna Fáil, 23 per cent (down one); Labour, 3 per cent (down one); Sinn Féin, 18 per cent (up four); Independents/Others, 15 per cent (down one); and undecided voters, 20 per cent (down one).

However, although party support remains relatively static, satisfaction with the Government has fallen sharply, down by six points since December to 28 per cent. Satisfaction with the Taoiseach is also down by five points, to 31 per cent.

The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin remains the most popular party leader, with a satisfaction rating of 37 per cent, down marginally from December.

The Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams sees his rating increase by two points to 29 per cent, while Labour leader Brendan Howlin falls by three points to 18 per cent.

The satisfaction rates for the main party leaders found in the latest poll.
The satisfaction rates for the main party leaders found in the latest poll.

Overall, the news is grim for Labour, whose support, at 4 per cent, is now significantly lower than at last year’s disastrous general election, when it won 7 per cent of the vote.

Broader trends since the general election see modest gains for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and more significant gains for Sinn Féin, though the party’s satisfaction will be tempered by the knowledge that it tends to underperform the polls in elections.

Independents down

The biggest change since the election has been in support for the Independents and others, which have seen a drop in aggregate support from 30 per cent to 18 per cent today. Support is spread amongst a number of small groups, parties and individual TDs.

The Green Party and the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit group are both on 3 per cent nationally, while the Social Democrats are on 1 per cent.

Independents, including groups of Independents, are on aggregate support of 10 per cent, which includes the Independent Alliance (2 per cent) and Independents for Change (2 per cent).

Despite the drop in Government satisfaction and the Taoiseach’s ratings, the poll is likely to calm nerves in Fine Gael, which had feared that Fianna Fáil was opening a significant poll lead, leading to apprehension of a snap election. The party maintains its lead in Dublin, and amongst better-off voters.