Voters rated housing and health as by far the most important issues in deciding how they voted in the election, according to an Ipsos MRBI exit poll on Saturday.
The exit poll for The Irish Times, RTÉ, TG4 and UCD was taken at 250 locations across the State, among 5,376 respondents who had just voted. It has a margin of error of 1.3 per cent.
For younger voters aged up to 35, housing was by far the most important issue, while for older voters it was health.
Among 18 to 24 year olds, housing was cited by 33 per cent as the most important issue while that rose to 38 per cent among the 25 to 34 year olds who are most affected by the housing shortage. By contrast 16 per cent of the over 65s thought it was the most important issue.
When it came to health, the trend was the exact opposite with 12 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds rating it as the top issue by comparison with 43 per cent of the over 65s. This trend of significant differences across the age groups was evident on other issues as well. While just 6 per cent of all voters said climate change was the most important issue, that figure jumped to 13 per cent among the 18 to 24 year olds while just 3 per cent of the over 65s though it was most important.
There was a similar response on jobs, with 14 per cent of the youngest age cohort citing it as most important while it was an issue for just 2 per cent of the over 65s.
The pension age didn’t rate as an issue at all for the youngest voters but it was the third most important issue of all for people aged over 50. At the other end of the scale, Brexit only counted as important with 1 per cent of the electorate and there were only marginal differences between the age groups.
Asked if they though Fine Gael and Fianna Fail were right to wrong to rule out going into government with Sinn Féin, 51 per cent of voters said they were wrong but a majority of people who voted for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail believed their parties were right in the issue.
People were almost equally divided on whether candidate or party was more important in deciding how they voted. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael voters said candidate was more important, while Sinn Féin and Green Party voters said it was the party.
Voters were also divided over whether they put local or national issues first in deciding how to cast their votes. Fifty-three per cent said national issues were more important while 47 per cent opted for local issues. A majority of Fianna Fail voters identified local issues as most important while Fine Gael and Sinn Féin voters were more inclined to say national issues. Green Party voters were by far the strongest in the view that national issues are more important.
Asked if they had personally benefited from the improvement in the economy in recent years, 63 per cent of people said they had not. Clear majorities across all parties, age groups and regions felt they had not benefited personally.
A majority of 65 per cent to 35 per cent felt that if the next government had extra resources they should be devoted to improving public services rather than being used to reduce taxes.
Asked when they had made up their minds how to vote, 48 per cent said it was before the campaign even started. Twenty-eight per cent said they made up their minds during the campaign, 16 per cent in the last couple of days and 8 per cent on the day.