Fine Gael stays ahead of the posse as Fianna Fail loses out in capital
THIS Irish Independent/ Millward Brown Lansdowne Opinion Poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday last, will make for intriguing reading for both the Government and opposition parties.
Conducted the day after George Lee's resignation from Fine Gael and the Dail, it was timely to gauge party support and, perhaps more pertinently, support for the party leaders.
Fine Gael remains ahead of the posse, cementing its position as the most popular party over the past 18 months.
Indeed, since the last Millward Brown Lansdowne poll, Fine Gael increased its share of the vote from 30pc to 34pc, picking up a swathe of local council seats along the way and performing well in the European elections.
While support for the party is strongest in its traditional heartlands (older, from a farming background), it is also gaining preference among younger voters (18 to 24 year olds) and the professional AB segment.
Fianna Fail has edged slightly upwards, but still languishes at 27pc. While an improvement, it is still at levels not imagined two years ago.
The optimistic in the party would suggest that following on from the December Budget, the introduction of NAMA, and a belief that the worst of the recession is over, it is quite a respectable result.
Their support is relatively stable across most age groups, although those over the age of 65 are most supportive, along with those from a farming background. Voters in Connacht/ Ulster are also more likely to vote Fianna Fail.
But, worryingly for the party, they are a distant third in Dublin (with just 16pc of the vote), with both Labour and Fine Gael eclipsing them with nearly twice the vote.
In addition, just two-thirds of those who claimed to have voted Fianna Fail in 2007 are doing so now, indicating a haemorrhage of support for the party during this recession (in comparison with 86pc of Labour supporters and 84pc of Fine Gael supporters remaining loyal).
Labour, at 19pc, has slipped slightly from the early to mid-20s support that it has become accustomed to.
It is still the most popular party in the capital, and has respectable support in both Leinster and Munster (at 20pc and 16pc respectively).
Sinn Fein has remained steady, and has not received any significant bounce from the Hillsborough settlement.
The Green Party is in severe danger of following the PDs into electoral oblivion on the basis of the results, garnering just 2pc of the vote.
Satisfaction with the Government remains almost historically low, with just 13pc expressing satisfaction. The younger generations are most dissatisfied.
Unsurprisingly, dissatisfaction falls along party lines, with supporters of Fianna Fail least dissatisfied (39pc). Even among the faithful, however, nearly six in 10 (58pc) are unhappy.
Leadership has been a burning issue of late. Just one in five (22pc) is happy with the performance of Brian Cowen, rising to just half among his own party. Those living in Dublin were most dissatisfied (81pc), reflecting the general malaise in the capital to all things Fianna Fail. Those most satisfied were aged 65+. From Mr Cowen's point of view, the only way is up.
Much attention has been paid to Enda Kenny's leadership style. Just one in four (26pc) is happy with his performance. Discounting the George Lee effect, and looking at trends since he became Fine Gael leader, his satisfaction ratings as leader of the opposition have been underwhelming.
Dissatisfaction with Mr Kenny is now at 61pc -- over twice as many people are dissatisfied as satisfied. Even among his own party, opinions are evenly divided -- 46pc of supporters are happy with his performance versus 42pc unhappy.
Eamon Gilmore remains the most popular leader, while John Gormley has slipped slightly and Gerry Adams has remained steady.
Paul Moran is a Research Project Manager with Millward Brown Lansdowne