‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI poll should have sobering impact on the bigger parties - Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil
Speculation about future of Taoiseach Enda Kenny has had no negative impact on his party’s standing
The composition of the Dáil would probably change very little if there was an early general election, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll. It shows Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil neck and neck and with the two parties improving their vote since the general election a year ago.
This finding should have a sobering impact on both as they contemplate a breakdown in relations over water charges. Fianna Fáil jumped into a commanding lead over Fine Gael in the first Irish Times poll following the formation of the minority government, but it has not been able to maintain it.
The poll shows that all of the speculation about the future of Taoiseach Enda Kenny has had no negative impact on his party’s standing although his own satisfaction rating has slipped. Among Fine Gael voters Mr Kenny is still in a strong position with 73 per cent of them expressing satisfaction with his leadership despite all of the pressure on him to step down.
An interesting feature of the poll is that it shows the combined support of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael at 57 per cent, considerably higher than the combined vote of the two parties in last year’s general election which came in at just under 50 per cent.
There are some significant differences in the support base of the two big parties. Fine Gael does twice as well as Fianna Fáil among the best off AB voters while Fianna Fáil does twice as well as Fine Gael among the poorest DE voters. Fine Gael support has held up well in Dublin, particularly in middle class areas, but Fianna Fáil has recovered significant ground in the capital.
Sinn Féin support has jumped four points to 21 per cent, but it was at this level in an Irish Times poll just two months before the last election in which it actually won 14 per cent. The poll indicates that Sinn Féin support in Dublin is being eroded to some extent by the AAA/PBP but it is still performing strongly across the country. The Green Party is showing some signs of revival in the capital.
Overall, support for Independents and smaller parties is down two points since the last poll and down 12 percentage points since the general election. It appears as if all three of the big parties have reversed the drift to Independents which was a feature of the period before the last election.
The really bad news in the poll is reserved for the Labour Party which has dropped to just 4 per cent after a terrible general election last year when it polled 7 per cent of the vote. In tandem with his party’s poor performance leader Brendan Howlin has seen his rating drop to 18 per cent. The Labour Party is now facing a real battle for survival and there is no obvious way out of its predicament.