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Irish Times/Ipsos poll: Sinn Féin maintains substantial lead over FF and FG despite slippage

Fianna Fáil polls ahead of Fine Gael for first time since 2020 general election

The latest Irish Times/Ipsos poll confirms Sinn Féin as the most popular party in Ireland, even if the party's lead has been trimmed by small gains for both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

If a general election were held now, Sinn Féin would attract 33 per cent of the vote, down two points since our December 2021 poll.

Fianna Fáil is up to 23 per cent, gaining three points and registering its best performance since the 2020 general election. This is also the first poll since that election that has Fianna Fáil polling ahead of Fine Gael.

Fine Gael is on 22 per cent, up two points.

The Green Party has slipped back two points, to 3 per cent. Both Labour (on 4 per cent) and Independents/Others (on 15 per cent) are unchanged.

Despite surging inflation having a very real impact on standards of living in Ireland, satisfaction with the Government has held steady, at 43 per cent

Fieldwork for today’s poll took place on Monday and Tuesday of this week, among a nationally representative sample of 1,200 eligible voters across every constituency in Ireland. Interviews were conducted in-home by trained and experienced Ipsos interviewers.

The backdrop to this poll is one of great uncertainty and unease, in Ireland and around the world. The invasion of Ukraine has added further fuel to a cost-of-living fire started by Covid-19. Internal Ipsos polling shows inflation is now of huge concern to the Irish public, next only to housing. Globally, Ipsos polling shows cost-of-living increases are replacing Covid-19 as one of the things that most worries the world.

Satisfaction with Government

Despite surging inflation having a very real impact on standards of living in Ireland, satisfaction with the Government has held steady, at 43 per cent.

Satisfaction with the leaders of the two main Government parties has actually increased (up eight points to 51 per cent for Micheál Martin and up three points to 48 per cent for Leo Varadkar). Their decisiveness on matters relating to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, it appears, has been positively received by voters.

For Sinn Féin, their charge had to come to an end at some stage, and this latest poll registers a modest decline from their peak of 35 per cent in December 2021. Still, the party’s position as the most popular party in Ireland remains unchallenged.

Sinn Féin is the most popular party across almost all age categories. Only among the over-65s are Sinn Féin (on 25 per cent) outpolled by Fianna Fáil (on 33 per cent) and Fine Gael (on 26 per cent). Among the under-35s, Sinn Féin is far more popular (on 45 per cent) than Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael combined (17 per cent and 19 per cent respectively).

Support for Sinn Féin is also spread widely across the socioeconomic spectrum, winning among working-class (C2DE) and lower middle-class (C1) voters. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are ahead among the professional classes (ABs) and farmers.

Positives

There are positives for both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in today’s poll. Vote share is up and the cohorts where they perform strongest (65 years plus, ABs and farmers) tend to turn out at election time. On a less positive note, these groupings are relatively small in population terms and/or are declining, presenting longer-term challenges for both parties.

Interestingly, Fianna Fáil is the most class-neutral of all the parties, attracting similar levels of support from white-collar (20 per cent) and blue-collar (23 per cent) households, although the party is extremely popular among those from farming backgrounds (44 per cent).

For the time being, Sinn Féin's gallop has been halted, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael earning a small dividend from their handling of the latest crises

The Green Party is on 3 per cent in this latest Irish Times/Ipsos poll, down two points. Satisfaction with party leader Eamon Ryan has dropped six points, down to 19 per cent. The Greens polled just 1 per cent among working-class voters where the pain of rising prices is probably being felt more acutely.

Labour is unchanged on 4 per cent, with no sign yet of a Bacik bounce. Party support is skewed towards the middle classes (on 5 per cent). Labour won just 3 per cent of the vote among the working classes (C2DEs), so lots of room for the party to grow among the largest bloc of voters in population terms.

Our poll put the Social Democrats on 2 per cent (no change), Aontú on 1 per cent (no change) and Solidarity/PBP on 1 per cent (down one point). Support for Renua measured less than 1 per cent.

For the time being, Sinn Féin’s gallop has been halted, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael earning a small dividend from their handling of the latest crises. For how long the public will endorse the Government’s strategy is unknown. What is known, from polling during Covid-19, is that the tide eventually goes out and more enduring political preferences are revealed.

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