The Irish Times view on the Ipsos/MRBI opinion poll: the vaccine bounce

The increase in support for Sinn Féin is spread fairly evenly across the country, with Dublin being its strongest region

The biggest gainer is Fianna Fáil which has seen a significant rise of six points to 20 per cent, in tandem with a rise of seven points in Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s satisfaction rating. Photograph: Tom Honan

The biggest gainer is Fianna Fáil which has seen a significant rise of six points to 20 per cent, in tandem with a rise of seven points in Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s satisfaction rating. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

There are some intriguing contradictions in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, which shows Sinn Féin surging ahead of the other major parties yet public satisfaction with the Government is at a near-record high.

It appears that the Government is getting a bounce from the successful vaccine rollout, which has facilitated a steady lifting of restrictions on social and economic life, while at the same time the main opposition party, Sinn Féin, is consolidating the position it won at the last general election as the most popular party in the State.

Sinn Féin is up three points to 31 per cent since the last Irish Times poll in February while Fine Gael has declined by three to 27 per cent. The biggest gainer is Fianna Fáil, which has seen a significant rise of six points to 20 per cent, in tandem with a rise of seven points in Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s satisfaction rating. The Green Party, the smallest of the coalition parties, has held steady at 6 per cent.

The increase in support for Sinn Féin is spread fairly evenly across the country, with Dublin being its strongest region. The party is making inroads across the age groups and different social classes, winning 21 per cent support among middle class ABC1 voters and 42 per cent among C2DE working class voters. In age terms its strongest support comes from the 25 to 34 year olds while it is weakest among the over-65s.

As far as the coalition parties are concerned the news is mixed, with the decline in the Fine Gael vote more than offset by the increase in support for Fianna Fáil. In total the level of support for the three parties in the coalition now stands at 53 per cent, which represents a modest increase since the election in February of last year.

In Dublin the combined support of the coalition parties comes to 51 per cent as against 34 per cent for Sinn Féin. If voting in the Dublin Bay South byelection on July 8th follows anything like the same pattern it will be fascinating to see whether the coalition parties transfer to each other in the face of a potentially strong challenge from Sinn Féin. It will be a crucial rest of coalition cohesion.

As for the smaller parties the results are disappointing for them all. Labour remains at a paltry 3 per cent while the Social Democrats are down one point to 2 per cent. Solidarity/People Before Profit is at 2 per cent and Aontú is on 1 per cent. Support for Independents has dropped by five points to 8 per cent. It would seem that the rise in support for Fianna Fáil has come at the expense of traditional Independents. The future direction of Irish politics will hinge on whether the trends evidenced in the poll will continue once the vaccine rollout is completed in the coming months and normal politics resumes.

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