Fianna Fáil ahead in country as Fine Gael tops Dublin

Nationwide support for Fine Gael slips outside the capital

An intriguing feature of today's Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI is that while Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are tied nationally there is a wide divergence in their level of support in Dublin.

While Fianna Fáil is now the biggest party in the country outside Dublin where it is recovering traditional support, Fine Gael is attracting almost twice the support of its rival in the capital.

Fine Gael is the biggest party in Dublin, where it gets 26 per cent.

By contrast, it is on just 20 per cent in the rest of Leinster and 24 per cent in Munster.


It does better in Connacht- Ulster, the home base of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, were it gets 32 per cent, but it has now fallen behind Fianna Fáil in the region where it did so well in the last election.

In class terms Fine Gael does best among the best-off AB voters, where it gets 37 per cent. The party gets a healthy 30 per cent among lower middle-class C1 voters, while it is on 25 per cent among skilled working-class C2 voters.

Where the party does really badly is among the poorest DE voters, but it is still on a healthy 33 per cent among farmers.

In age terms there is no great variation in support except for the 60- to 64-year-old category, where it drops to 21 per cent.

The decline in support for Fine Gael puts the party back to where it was for most of last year in Irish Times polls before a surge of support in the wake of the exit from the bailout.

The party can take heart from the fact that its voters are disciplined in the sense that they are the only group to express satisfaction with the way the Government is running the country and 76 per cent of them are supportive of Kenny as leader.

Fianna Fáil is also moving back to the level of support it had in the first half of last year but in its case the news is positive.

The party is on 33 per cent in Connacht-Ulster, 29 per cent in Munster, and 27 per cent in the rest of Leinster.

What will worry Fianna Fáil, however, is that it is only on 14 per cent in Dublin. It will need to do better than that to have any chance of winning a seat in the capital in the European elections next month.

In class terms the party is well behind Fine Gael among middle-class voters, winning 19 per cent in the AB and C1 social category. It does considerably better among C2 voters, where it is on 27 per cent, and gets most support among DE voters, where it is on 32 per cent. The party gets 25 per cent among farmers.

In age terms Fianna Fáil does best among the over-65s and among the youngest 18- to 24-year-old category.

There is solid support among the party voters for Micheál Martin, with 64 per cent expressing satisfaction with his performance as leader.

Labour Party support at 8 per cent appears to have stabilised, but it is still far off the 19 per cent achieved in the last general election.

Dublin is the best region for the party, where it is on 11 per cent, but it will also need to do better than that if it is to elect an MEP in the capital.

There is no great variation across the age groups, although the 50- to 64-year-olds are its best category, and there is very little variation in terms of class.

The party’s difficulties in getting credit for the achievements of the Government is illustrated by the fact that 49 per cent of Labour voters are dissatisfied with the Coalition’s performance, compared to 46 per cent who are satisfied.

Eamon Gilmore’s satisfaction rating is still the lowest of all leaders at 20 per cent, and this is not helped by the fact that only 40 per cent of his own party’s supporters are satisfied with his performance, compared to 34 per cent who are dissatisfied.

The level of support for Sinn Féin at 21 per cent has remained exactly the same as it was in the last poll before Christmas, but if it holds on to that until the elections in May it is set to make big inroads.

In regional terms the party is second to Fine Gael in Dublin, where it gets 20 per cent.

Its best region is the rest of Leinster, where it is on 25 per cent, followed by Connacth-Ulster on 20 per cent, and Munster on 18 per cent.

There is a wide variation in class support from 12 per cent among AB voters to 29 per cent among the DE category.

There is not a big variation in support across the age groups, but the party is significantly more attractive to men than women.

Satisfaction with the leadership of Gerry Adams has increased, and this is helped by the fact that the overwhelming majority of 86 per cent of Sinn Féin supporters believe he is doing a good job.

The level of support for Independents/Others at 21 per cent maintains a trend which has persisted since the general election of February 2011.

It is particularly strong in Dublin, where the figure goes up to 28 per cent, followed by Munster at 22 per cent, the rest of Leinster at 20 per cent, down to 11 per cent in Connacht-Ulster.

A breakdown of the vote for Independent/Others does not provide a clear indication of any ideological trend. Support for the group is highest among the best-off AB and C1 voters and weakest in the poorest DE category.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times