Irish Times poll: Sinn Féin hits record high as Fine Gael drops among voters

SF at 31% approval but support for Coalition continues to hold

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Sinn Féin has risen to its highest ever level in an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll tonight, with 31 per cent support from likely voters, putting the party well ahead of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

But approval for the Government’s handling of the pandemic has also risen very substantially in recent months. Fianna Fáil sees a six-point jump in support since February, suggesting a “vaccination boost” for the Government as the programme rolls out and society reopens. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar also see increases in their personal ratings.

Independents are the big losers, seeing their aggregate support fall by five points since the last poll, while Fine Gael support drops by three points.

The state of the parties, when undecided voters and those unlikely to vote are excluded, is as follows: Fianna Fáil 20 per cent (up six); Fine Gael 27 per cent (down three); Sinn Féin 31 per cent (up three); Green Party 6 per cent (no change); Labour 3 per cent (no change); and Independents/others 13 per cent (down six).

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 (up one); Aontú 1 per cent (no change); and Independents 8 per cent (down five).

The poll was conducted among 1,200 adults at 120 sampling points across all constituencies on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Respondents were interviewed at their own homes, a change from February’s poll which was conducted via telephone because of coronavirus restrictions.

The accuracy is estimated at plus or minus 2.8 per cent.

The poll suggests that the public mood has switched considerably since the last poll in February, when the country was under lockdown to contain the third wave of coronavirus.

Seven out of 10 voters (70 per cent) say that the Government is doing a “good job” in its handling of the pandemic – an increase of 25 points since February – with just over a quarter (26 per cent) saying it is doing a “bad job”, a reduction of 25 points.

The Taoiseach has risen to 49 per cent approval, while Eamon Ryan dropped to 26 per cent. Photograph: Paul Scott/The Irish Times
The Taoiseach has risen to 49 per cent approval, while Eamon Ryan dropped to 26 per cent. Photograph: Paul Scott/The Irish Times

Martin’s approval rating

The Government’s approval rating has also risen by 10 points since February, with 53 per cent of respondents now expressing satisfaction with the Coalition. Taoiseach Micheál Martin also sees his approval rating jump by seven points to 49 per cent, his best number ever in the series. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also sees his approval rating increase, by four points to 56 per cent. He remains the most popular party leader.

Despite her party’s increase in support, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald sees her personal rating fall by three points to 42 per cent, while Green leader Eamon Ryan’s rating slumps by nine points to 26 per cent.

Despite the growing strength of Sinn Féin, aggregate support for the Government parties is holding up and remains greater than at the time of the general election last year. But Sinn Féin’s rating today will give the party a boost as it heads into what is likely to be a keenly contested byelection in Dublin Bay South, which is due to take place on July 8th, it was announced on Wednesday.

Voters were also asked which issues were most likely to influence their vote in the next general election. The results were as follows: the economy 21 per cent; taxation 10 per cent; health 25 per cent; house prices 21 per cent; the cost of renting 10 per cent; tackling climate change 6 per cent; something else/don’t know 2 per cent.