Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has suffered another slump in his personal approval rating, while support for Fine Gael has also fallen in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.
Mr Varadkar’s satisfaction rating has fallen by eight points from 51 per cent last October to 43 per cent today. While he remains the most popular of the party leaders, today’s number is the lowest satisfaction rating he has achieved since becoming leader.
It represents the third consecutive fall as measured by polls since the beginning of last year when his satisfaction rating was 60 per cent.
The Taoiseach’s disappointment at today’s poll will be compounded by a three-point drop in support for Fine Gael since October, with the party registering the support of 30 per cent of voters who expressed a preference and are likely to vote.
Support for Fine Gael has fallen sharply among farmers and the most financially well-off voters, the figures show.
Sinn Féin also falls by three points today, while its leader Mary Lou McDonald sees a sharp decline in her personal rating, from 40 per cent to 33 per cent.
With support for Fianna Fáil dropping marginally by one point, the big winners are the non-aligned Independents, with Independents/others rising by five points.
State of the parties
The state of the parties, when undecided voters are excluded, is: Fine Gael 30 per cent (down three points compared with the last poll in October); Fianna Fáil 24 per cent (down one); Sinn Féin 21 per cent (down three); Labour 6 per cent (up two); Independents/others 19 per cent (up five).
The poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over in face-to-face interviews at 120 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent.
The “core” vote for the parties – that is, before undecided voters and those unlikely to vote were excluded – compared with the last Irish Times poll in October, was: Fine Gael 21 per cent (down five); Fianna Fáil 18 per cent (down two); Labour 5 per cent (up two); Sinn Féin 16 per cent (down three); Independents/others 15 per cent (up four). Undecided voters were at 25 per cent, up four since the last poll.
Among the smaller parties and Independents, the Green Party is at 2 per cent (no change) among voters declaring a preference, Solidarity/People Before Profit are at 2 per cent (down 1), the Social Democrats are at 1 per cent (no change), Independents4Change are at 2 per cent (no change), the Independent Alliance is at 1 per cent (no change), non-party Independents are on 10 per cent (up six) and other groups and parties are on 2 per cent (no change).
Satisfaction with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also falls today, by four points from 39 per cent to 35 per cent, while Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin sees his rating rise marginally from 18 per cent to 19 per cent.
Satisfaction with the Government falls marginally from 39 per cent in October to 38 per cent today.
Today’s news comes after a difficult period for the Government which has been under fire on the housing crisis and the state of the health service. In recent weeks, the Fine Gael-led administration has been sharply criticised for the escalating costs of the national children’s hospital project which prompted a no-confidence motion in Minister for Health Simon Harris.