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Election 2020: Sinn Féin takes the lead with strong poll showing

Irish Times poll shows party leading the field at 25 per cent with Fianna Fáil at 23 per cent and Fine Gael at 20 per cent

Has this been the high point for Sinn Féin? It had an amazing day on Monday, with inclusion into the election leaders’ debate on RTÉ and an even bigger win in The Irish Times Ipsos MRBI poll.

For those who took a short trip to Mars last night, it showed Sinn Féin at 25 per cent, Fianna Fáil at 23, Fine Gael at 20, the Greens at 8, Labour at 4, Social Democrats at 2, and Others, including small parties with 1 per cent support, at 20.

Here is our report on it.

If Mary Lou McDonald had an uneasy interview with Bryan Dobson last night (and a few questions may linger), it was more than compensated for by other events.


The poll is the worst performance by Fine Gael since December 2014, however, when it scored only 19 per cent, and May 2008 when it scored 20 per cent.

It represents an astonishing nine-point drop since October and a 16 per cent drop in support since 2018.

For Sinn Féin, the graph has risen dramatically the other way: an 11-point gain since October. Only twice has the party come so close to these heights, getting 24 points twice, once in May 2012 and again in October 2018.

In 2016 the party began at 19 per cent in the first Irish Times poll and polled at 13.8 per cent on election day

Conventional wisdom (or is that hunches) might dictate a levelling off and a drop for Sinn Féin in the last days, but there has been no sign of a slide so far in this campaign.

But might the party even maintain the momentum and have the problem Labour had in 1992 - loads of support but not enough candidates?

It’s certainly been the most dramatic opinion poll since Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fáil got nearly 40 per cent in the last Irish Times opinion poll in May 2007.

Is there a latent Fianna Fáil vote out there that will slip out on election day? Micheál Martin has had a flat campaign and has not succeeded in finding the balance between being positive while putting down his opponents.

There are some interesting sidebar findings, not least that the preferred coalition combination is Fianna Fáil, the Greens and Labour. Moreover, while Sinn Féin’s support has reached a new peak, there is an equal cohort who are opposed to Sinn Féin being involved in any government.

The debate involving McDonald, Varadkar and Martin tonight will be crucial, and most focus will be on the Sinn Féin leader. Will anyone-but-Sinn-Féin forces conspire to try and knock a few percentage points off its total, and take some of the gloss of the result? There are five days of campaigning still to go. This election isn’t over yet.

Best Reads

Pat Leahy's analysis of the Irish Times poll.

The view of Aisling Corcoran of Ipsos.

Pat Leahy walks readers through the findings on coalition options.

A wonderful piece by Jennifer O'Connell on The Cataract Bus. And don't forget the video by Enda O'Dowd.

The mother of the teenager Paul Quinn, Breege Quinn, reminds people to remember his death when casting their vote. He is widely believed to have been murdered by the IRA.

Kitty Holland reports the vote in Tipperary was suspended following the death of a candidate.

Jennifer Bray has an interesting interview with Dara Calleary in Mayo.

The Irish Times Inside Politics Election Daily podcast on last night's poll.

Health analyst Sara Burke says this election will be a real test of Sláintecare.


The main event is the RTÉ debate between Leo Varadkar, Mary Lou McDonald and Micheál Martin. It will be hosted by Miriam O’Callaghan and David McCullagh from RTÉ Studios in Donnybrook, Dublin, at 9.30pm.

There is a media opportunity with Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Minister Paschal Donohoe at 11am, City Assembly House, Dublin.

Fianna Fáil is holding a press briefing on education with spokesman Thomas Byrne and spokeswoman on equality Fiona O’Loughlin TD at 11am.

The Social Democrats will unveil a “renters’ charter” with candidate Carly Bailey and party co-leader Catherine Murphy at the Tallaght Luas stop at 11.30am.

The Green Party is announcing its main climate policy in the Rediscovery Centre, the Boiler House, Ballymun, Dublin, at 1pm.

Eamon Ryan will deliver a speech on Brexit at the Institute of International & European Affairs, Dublin, at 2.45pm.

Brendan Howlin will be campaigning in Kildare South with Cllr Mark Wall.