Poll: Young urban women giving Yes side referendum edge - but it is a narrow lead
Poll points to two Irelands split by urban-rural divide, but abortion campaign to go down to wire
THE abortion referendum looks like it will be passed by a narrow majority but success is by no means certain at this stage, according to the latest Sunday Independent/Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll.
Excluding undecided voters, the poll finds 57pc to 43pc support repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and unborn.
However, when undecided voters are included, the poll shows 45pc in favour, 34pc against, with a considerable 18pc undecided and 4pc who did not express an opinion.
The survey also reveals that more Yes (18pc) than No (15pc) supporters have reservations about the proposed amendment.
Furthermore, more men (21pc) that women (15pc) have doubts about the proposal.
However, the poll overall finds some movement in favour of repeal, with strong support among young people in urban areas, and particularly among women in the lower-middle and skilled working social classes' cohort.
A notable feature in the poll is an urban-rural divide, which shows Dublin (51pc) in favour of repeal, falling to 37pc in Connacht/Ulster.
But the fact that a significant number are still undecided, and that somewhat more Yes than No voters have doubts, will see the campaign go down to the wire.
With almost three weeks to referendum day, both Yes and No supporters will now intensify the campaign with the outcome still uncertain.
However, today's poll indicates that the referendum will be carried, albeit with a slim majority.
In other findings, Fine Gael maintains a comfortable lead over Fianna Fail, with Sinn Fein gaining support under Mary Lou McDonald.
The state of the parties is: Fine Gael (34pc) down two points; Fianna Fail (27pc) down one; Sinn Fein (22pc) up two; Labour (5pc) up one; Greens (3pc) up one; Independents/others (8pc) down three.
Satisfaction with party leaders sees Ms McDonald (46pc) overtake Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (44pc) for the first time, with a seven-point increase in popularity for the Sinn Fein leader and a four-point decrease for Mr Martin.
Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (56pc), down two points, still commands the highest satisfaction rating, although his dissatisfaction level (34pc) has increased by five points, indicating that his honeymoon period may be at an end. Satisfaction with the Government (48pc), which had increased in recent polls, has also stabilised.
The survey also finds that 40pc believe there should be a general election after the scheduled end of the confidence and supply agreement, while 32pc feel the deal should be renewed, 17pc said 'it depends', and 10pc did not know.
Support for renewal of the deal, which is to be reviewed after the Budget in October, increases to 46pc among Fine Gael supporters but decreases significantly to 34pc among Fianna Fail supporters.
The 1,003 nationwide interviews in the poll were carried out from April 18-30, and had concluded before full details of the cervical cancer scandal emerged. The margin of error is 3.1pc.
On the abortion referendum, in another finding which shows momentum for repeal, 42pc (up two points) say abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks is 'about right' and 11pc (up three points) say it does not go far enough, while 32pc (down one point) say it goes 'too far'. However, again there is a sizeable minority (15pc), down four points, who do not know or have refused to give their view.
A further breakdown shows that slightly more Fianna Fail supporters intend to vote No (41pc) than Yes (39pc), while more Fine Gael supporters say Yes (44pc) than no (33pc) and more Sinn Fein supporters are also saying Yes (52pc) than No (35pc).
Although this poll sample was smaller, and therefore comes with a warning, significantly more of the farming community support No (62pc) over Yes (18pc). Should the referendum be passed, the poll indicates that the strong support of young women in the lower-middle and skilled working classes, C1 (51pc) and C2 (47pc), will be significant.
In the Sunday Independent today, Paul Moran, executive director of Kantar Millward Brown, writes that the poll "will serve as a clarion call to all, as it illustrates that with three more weeks to go, there is still plenty of hard graft to be done, and nothing can be taken for granted".