Sinn Féin has stretched its lead over Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, which sees the party’s popularity rise to a record level.
Support for Mary Lou McDonald’s party has risen by three points to 35 per cent since the last poll in October, putting it 15 points ahead of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, with both at 20 per cent.
The state of the parties, when undecided voters and those unlikely to vote are excluded, is as follows: Sinn Féin 35 per cent (up three); Fine Gael 20 per cent (down two); Fianna Fáil 20 per cent (no change); Green Party 5 per cent (down two); Labour 4 per cent (no change); and Independents/others 15 per cent (up three). All of the above figures are rounded, which accounts for the total of 99 per cent.
Among the Independents and smaller parties, the results are as follows: Social Democrats 2 per cent (down one); Solidarity-People Before Profit 2 per cent (no change); Aontú 1 per cent (no change); and Independents 11 per cent (up one).
Satisfaction with the Government has fallen by three points to 43 per cent. The ratings of the party leaders sees little change, with Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin up two to 43 per cent; Fine Gael leader and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar up two to 45 per cent; and Ms McDonald up one to 44 per cent.
There was better news for the Coalition when voters were asked about its performance on Covid-19. When asked “all in all do you think the Government has done a good job or a bad job handling the Covid-19 pandemic”, a clear majority (57 per cent) responded that it has done a good job, against 29 per cent who said it had done a bad job.
However, this marks a decline since a similar question was asked in October, which saw 74 per cent of voters saying the Government was doing a good job.
Respondents to the poll were also asked about potential further Covid restrictions, and which measures the Government should or should not consider.
Asked about closing bars and restaurants, 31 per cent said the Government should consider the move, while 66 per cent said it should not be considered.
On closing gyms, 37 per cent were in favour of considering the move, with 58 per cent opposed.
Two-thirds of voters (66 per cent) were against banning attendance at outdoor sport events, with 30 per cent in favour.
But there was strong opposition to closing schools, with 72 per cent saying it should not be considered, and just 23 per cent in favour.
However, there was majority support for limiting household gatherings over Christmas (53 per cent), continuing mask-wearing for those aged nine to 12 (61 per cent) and limiting numbers in bars and restaurants (69 per cent).
A majority of respondents (54 per cent) also said that the Government should consider banning international travel.
It is by far the best poll result for Sinn Féin, and its biggest lead over its rivals, in the entire Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI series. The party’s support has grown by 10 percentage points since the last election.
Fianna Fáil has been steady at 20 per cent in the last three polls, while support for Fine Gael has fallen in every Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll for over a year now, from 37 per cent in June of last year to 20 per cent today.
The poll was conducted among 1,200 adults at 120 sampling points across all constituencies on December 5th-8th. Respondents were interviewed at their own homes. The accuracy is estimated at plus or minus 2.8 per cent.