Good news for the Coalition in latest ‘Irish Times’/IpsosMRBI poll

Sinn Féin’s ambition to lead the next government is kept alive by the these findings

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Sighs of relief will have been heard in Government Buildings as the latest Irish Times/IpsosMRBI opinion poll showed some recovery in support for both Fine Gael and the Labour Party. This followed record low ratings for both parties last December, fuelled by public hardship and protests over water charges. Of particular significance was an increase of eight points in the Government’s satisfaction rating, reflecting growth in employment and a positive economic outlook.

Sinn Féin’s ambition to lead the next government was kept alive by the these findings. In spite of consistent negative publicity regarding the handling of sexual abuse cases by the republican movement, the party increased its support by two points and now lies level with Fine Gael at 24 per cent. The news for Fianna Fáil is likely to cause Micheál Martin sleepless nights. Support for the party fell by four points to 17 per cent, the lowest in almost three years and the kind of performance that encourages backbench unrest.

The survey did not seek to establish the share of voter support for Renua, a party led by Lucinda Creighton. But support for “Independents and Others”, including the Green Party, has fallen by four points to 28 per cent since December, even as the disparate grouping retains a dominant position in Dublin. Nationally, support for Fine Gael has risen by five points and by a single point for the Labour Party. Within Dublin, Labour Party support rose by four points to ten per cent and Fine Gael’s by five points to 25 per cent. Sinn Féin support fell by five points to 16 per cent in the capital while Fianna Fáil support declined by two points to 13 per cent.

The volatility of the electorate is as striking as the political fault lines that separate the “haves” from the “have nots”. Fine Gael, Independents and Fianna Fáil attract almost eighty per cent of the top income vote while Sinn Féin and Independents take 57 per cent of the lowest income category. A reversal in support among farmers also emerged with Fianna Fail losing out to Fine Gael as prices and prospects in the sector recovered.

The poll’s findings on the personal standing of the party leaders offer further cheer to the Coalition parties and little comfort to the Opposition. Tánaiste Joan Burton attracted the highest personal satisfaction rating at 31 per cent, a rise of six points, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny gained nine points to stand at 28 per cent. Support for Gerry Adams remained static at 26 per cent, having fallen by nine points in December at the time of the Mairia Cahill rape controversy. Satisfaction with the leadership of Micheál Martin fell by a single point to 24 per cent. Because political attitudes in Dublin tend to lead the rest of the country, the Government parties can hope their fortunes will improve further with the economy.

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