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Sinn Féin now the leading party of middle class Ireland

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll: Almost 50% of under-35s support main opposition party

Support for Sinn Féin has ratcheted up during 2021, ending the year on an all-time high of 35 per cent, up three points, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

At the same time, support for Fine Gael has been heading in the opposite direction, sliding from 30 per cent at the start of the year to just 20 per cent in today's poll.

No change is registered for Fianna Fáil who remain on 20 per cent, while the Green Party has slipped two points, to 5 per cent.

Labour, on 4 per cent, are unchanged. On 2 per cent are the Social Democrats (down one point), Solidarity/PBP (no change), with Aontú on 1 per cent (no change).


Interviewing for today’s poll took place between Sunday and Wednesday of this week, hot on the heels of Cop26, in the teeth of storm Barra, and with dark Covid clouds gathering on the horizon.

A total of 1,200 interviews were conducted, in home, across every constituency, and nationally representative of the Irish population of eligible voters.

The year 2021 will go down as a record-breaking one for Sinn Féin. A 35 per cent poll-rating and a lead of 15 points are just the latest in a long series of firsts.

Remarkably, Sinn Féin has not just consolidated support among its core audience – 45 per cent among working-class voters and 44 per cent among the under 35s – but has also broadened its appeal to include older, middle-class voters. Among those aged 35 and upwards, Sinn Féin attracts a significant 31 per cent of the vote. Among middle-class voters, support is an impressive 27 per cent.


As Sinn Féin have climbed in the polls, Fine Gael have slumped to 20 per cent, dropping 10 points since the beginning of the year.

Support for Fine Gael peaks among those from farming backgrounds (35 per cent) and troughs among 25- to 34-year-olds (12 per cent) – the age category with the highest concentration of prospective home-buyers. Regionally, the party is relatively weak in the east (18 per cent in Dublin and 16 per cent in the rest of Leinster) and strongest in the west (30 per cent in Connacht/Ulster).

Fianna Fáil began the year on a low of 14 per cent but recovered to 20 per cent in June. Polls in October and December confirm the ship has been steadied. In the General Election of 2020, Fianna Fáil registered 22 per cent of the vote, so not yet back to where they were when they entered government.

For Fianna Fáil, age is a critical dimension, with support ranging from 13 per cent among the 18 to 24 age cohort to 37 per cent among the over-65s.

Dublin remains challenging for the party with just 14 per cent support, while Munster is currently a stronghold with 26 per cent support.

Despite wall-to-wall coverage of the Cop26 UN Climate Change Conference, the Green Party have slipped two points, to 5 per cent. The challenge of climate change is universally acknowledged, but voters are looking for solutions that do not impact their quality of life, as highlighted by previous Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI polls. Environmental concerns do not automatically translate into votes for the Green Party.

The age profile for the Green Party is a mirror image of the Fianna Fáil profile, peaking at 12 per cent among the under-25s and dropping to 2 per cent among the over-65s. The poll also reveals an over-reliance on Dublin, where the majority of Green Party voters are concentrated.


Ireland has so far come through the pandemic with flying colours, outperforming other developed countries across a wide range of metrics. Translating these good grades into an electoral dividend has proven somewhat elusive for the three parties of Government, for whom combined support is approaching an all-time low.

The poll also contains some startling revelations. Sinn Féin, a left-wing party, are now the most popular party among middle-class Ireland. This apparent contradiction could make sense if we assume Ireland has moved from being a country obsessed with creating wealth to one concerned with how our wealth is distributed. Loosening the purse strings during Covid has possibly accelerated this trend.

But perhaps the most intriguing finding from today’s poll is that Millennials, Ireland’s most educated and employable generation, intend to vote for radical change. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, support for all three parties of Government together is at 33 per cent, compared to 47 per cent for Sinn Féin. The expectations of young people in Ireland have been raised, as too has the bar for politicians and our Government.