Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll

Early election a risky bet

 

No time for a general election. November poll? No chance. Or certainly one hell of a gamble. The political season has resumed, and any pious hope the Government may have had that a pleasant summer season would give a filip to its reputation, or have seen the first shoots of “recovery” cheer a browned-off electorate will have been doused in the cold shower of this morning’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

A static satisfaction rating since May – 30 per cent (albeit one in two among the wealthiest) – for the Government’s running of the country, is reflected in virtually unchanged levels of party and leader support: Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil remain on 28 and 20 per cent respectively (excluding undecided voters), while Labour is up and Sinn Féin down one and two points each to eight and 19 per cent respectively.

For Labour, still securing less than half its 19 per cent support from the last election in 2011, the story is particularly grim. Unless it can push its vote back at least above its 2007 election ten per cent, there is a very real prospect of a complete melt-down come the spring. Sinn Féin, on the other hand, sits comfortably on double its 2011 vote, although the figures suggest its support base appears to have plateaued. The chance of it emerging as the largest party and being able to set the coalition-building agenda is fading.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny leads the poll of party leaders with an underwhelming 31 per cent satisfaction rating, just ahead of Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin (30 per cent) and Tánaiste Joan Burton (29 per cent). Sinn Féin will be disappointed leader Gerry Adams slips three percentage points to 26 per cent while, as a party, it is just eclipsed by Fianna Fáil.

Independents and small parties retain their remarkable quarter share of the voters, and as much as one-third in Dublin – overall a rise of eight percentage points since the general election. Which all makes predictions of possible government majorities in a general election virtually impossible. Unpredictable transfer patterns from this ideologically mixed and electorally ill-disciplined group will certainly ensure no clear correlation between votes and seats .

How strange this state has become electorally is reflected in what might be termed the “anti-establishment vote” in the capital where more than half of voters (excluding undecideds) – some 54 per cent – back either independents/others or Sinn Féin. A minor caveat should be entered – a fifth of Dublin’s Independents (18 per cent) identify with Shane Ross’s scarcely anti-establishment Independent Alliance, bringing the real “anti-establishment” tally just below the 50 per cent. On the other hand the poll finds that a very strong 29 per cent of Dublin independents –10 per cent of Dublin voters – identify with the hard-left anti-austerity/people before profit groups.

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