Shape of next Dail far from clear cut
Published 08/01/2011 | 05:00
A short analysis of the latest opinion poll would begin: voters are turned off by politics and politicians but very worried about the economy and deeply concerned with public affairs.
The latest Red C poll commissioned by bookmakers Paddy Power confirms the public's scepticism about politics rather than exposing any new enthusiasm for politicians.
The electorate haven't yet made up their minds about who to cast their votes for but there have been subtle shifts in the political tectonic plates favouring Fine Gael.
The policy of keeping their leader away from the cut and thrust of debate appears to have produced dividends for Enda Kenny.
Shielding Mr Kenny from bare-knuckle encounters has narrowed the popularity gap with the leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore.
The party has extended its lead to 35pc of the first preference vote but the underlying detail must give heart to Fine Gaelers who want to puncture the Labour Party.
Fine Gael is neck-and-neck with the Labour Party in Dublin where Mr Gilmore hoped to reap seats, and FG is clearly outstripping Labour in the provinces.
Labour's share is down from its heyday in 2010 because of the fall in support in Dublin, with the party securing 21pc of the first preference vote. Support has also fallen in Connacht and Ulster.
Just 14pc would give Fianna Fail their first preference vote, coming close to the lowest level of support for the party in 2010. Only 10pc of those in Dublin now say they will vote for the party.
Sinn Fein has held support at the level it has held since the recent Donegal South West by-election, and matches Fianna Fail by securing 14pc of the first preference vote.
Sinn Fein's vote is much stronger in Connacht and Ulster at 20pc, and among less well off manual workers, 18pc. Support for the Green Party has risen to 4pc, a clear 1pc above the margin of error, which is interpreted as a gain.