New political force may take advantage of increasing polarisation
‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll shows rise in support for Independents
Independents such as Lucinda Creighton do not speak with one voice but represent ideas the mainstream parties have not developed, says Damian Loscher of Ipsos MRBI.
Bunched behind Fine Gael are Sinn Féin on 23 per cent (up two points), Fianna Fáil on 22 per cent (down four points) and Independents/Others on 21 per cent (up three points).
Interviewing for today’s poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday last week among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults. Interviews were conducted in-home, at 100 sampling points covering every constituency.
With a referendum and a budget on the near horizon – both potential lightning rods for voter dissatisfaction – Fine Gael will take some satisfaction from today’s positive poll result, especially when we consider that TDs expelled during the summer are no longer included in the Fine Gael number.
Fine Gael’s stance on the referendum is broadly in tune with public opinion. While it is viewed as cynical and populist by some, the majority of voters back the proposal to abolish the Seanad (62 per cent in favour). Overwhelmingly, Fine Gael voters (77 per cent) are intending to vote Yes.
Short sharp shock
By design or otherwise, Fine Gael may also have engineered the ideal pre-budget scenario, with attention focused on the level of adjustment, and without any of the kite-flying we have come to expect. There has been hardly any mention of cuts and taxes in the media. A short sharp shock approach must be less damaging than death by a thousand leaks.
Labour’s participation in Government has firmly established Sinn Féin as the anti-establishment and anti-austerity party. They register 23 per cent support in today’s poll, a gain of two points, and are especially strong among those aged 18-34 (32 per cent support), where they are the party of choice by some distance.
In contrast, Labour have slumped further, down three points to 6 per cent support. The decline has been broadly based, with the party registering in the single digits across all demographic groups, except for the 10 per cent recorded among 18- to 24-year-olds.
Fianna Fáil have not taken advantage of the upcoming Seanad referendum or budget to articulate a distinctive point of view. Their recovery has stalled, with today’s poll putting the party back to 22 per cent, a drop of four points. To use a mountaineering analogy, Fianna Fáil have reached base camp, where they are acclimatising and waiting for conditions to improve.