Middle classes and farmers firmly in treaty Yes camp


OPINION POLL:THE SWING to the Yes side in the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll is mainly due to a hardening of support for the Lisbon Treaty among middle-class voters, who are now much more strongly in favour of the treaty than in the final poll of the referendum campaign last June.

Working-class voters are still against the treaty by a significant margin. A majority of women and young people are also opposed, but farmers have moved decisively into the Yes camp.

Support for the treaty among the better-off ABC1 social category is now running at 55 per cent while opposition to it is at 30 per cent.

In the last Irish Times poll, a week before the referendum in June, the Yes side was ahead in this category by 36 per cent to 31 per cent. The poll question is based on the assumption that Ireland will be allowed to retain an EU commissioner in a clarification of the treaty.

As it stands the treaty provides that all EU states, big and small, will lose a commissioner for five out of every 15 years. However, the treaty provides that this can be changed by unanimity and there has been speculation since last June that agreement on maintaining a commissioner for every country may be possible.

The poll question also assumes that the Government will be able to negotiate clarifying declarations on issues like abortion, neutrality and taxation, which could be appended to the treaty.

While the poll result will come as a boost for the Yes side, it should be pointed out that the Irish Times polls in January and May also indicated a clear lead for the Yes side and it was only the final poll of the campaign that put the No side ahead.

However, one important difference between the current poll and the earlier polls that put the Yes side ahead is that a substantial majority of voters have now come to a clear view on the issue.

The first poll on the treaty in January showed that 64 per cent had no opinion and even the May poll, in the middle of the campaign, found that 47 per cent had no opinion, compared with 35 per cent for the Yes side and 18 per cent No.

This time over 80 per cent of the voters have a view on the issue and there is a much smaller number of undecided voters in the middle to play for.

The big weakness of the Yes campaign is among women voters and people in the youngest age group.

Among 18-24-year-olds just 32 per cent intend to vote Yes and 38 per cent No. However, there is a substantial 30 per cent in this category who have no opinion. The strongest Yes support comes from middle-aged voters with the over-65s being less enthusiastic.

Among women 40 per cent intend to vote No compared with 38 per cent Yes, with 23 per cent in the don't know category. This is still a big improvement on the last poll in June, which showed that 32 per cent of women were in the No camp, just 25 per cent intended to vote Yes, and a substantial 36 per cent were undecided.

Men are for the treaty by 48 per cent to 38 per cent, with 15 per cent having no opinion. Again this is a significant change since June when men were against by 39 per cent to 34 per cent.

In regional terms, the Yes lead is biggest in Munster where 45 per cent are in the Yes camp and 35 per cent on the No side.

The Yes side has a narrower lead in Dublin of 44 per cent against 40 per cent; the rest of Leinster is almost identical. The sides are closest in Connacht-Ulster with a Yes lead of 41 per cent against 39 per cent.

In party terms Fianna Fáil voters are the most positive with 51 per cent intending to vote Yes and 34 per cent No.

Supporters of the other pro-treaty parties have all shifted back into the Yes side since the last poll in June. Sinn Féin is the only party whose supporters are still opposed to the treat.