Thursday 18 January 2018

Coalition enjoys bounce at expense of SF, independents

But one-third of voters don't know who they'll back at next election, says Daniel McConnell, Political Correspondent

PUBLIC backing for the Coalition has jumped three points in a month, with Labour's support now back into double figures, according to the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll.

The gains for both Fine Gael and Labour have come at the expense of Sinn Fein and the independents, while Fianna Fail's support has also increased.

But the good news for the Government is tempered by the fact that 33 per cent of those polled said they did not know when asked which party or independent they would vote for at the next election.

This high level of 'don't knows' reflects the continued deep sense of disillusionment among the electorate towards the Government and the wider political system.

Once the 'don't knows' are excluded, according to the poll of 998 adults across the country, Taoiseach Enda Kenny's party is once again the most popular, on 28 per cent, only one point ahead of Fianna Fail on 27 per cent.

Just after the halfway mark in the expected lifetime of this Government, Fine Gael will be relatively satisfied with its poll ratings. However, at 28 per cent, it has been estimated it could still lose up to 18 seats should an election take place tomorrow.

But should a Fine Gael and Fianna Fail coalition come to fruition, as speculated on during the summer recess, the two parties would hold a commanding majority in the Dail, based on these numbers.

Since our last poll at the end of August, Labour has bounced back to above single-digit ratings for the first time in four polls, and is now on 10 per cent. A perceived resurgence in the performance of Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who has been high-profile since the summer break, is likely to be behind the Labour bounce.

Having burst through the 20 per cent threshold in our last poll, Sinn Fein has fallen back to 19 per cent, but the party is still significantly more popular than the 10 per cent level of support it received at the 2011 General Election.

Support for the independents has fallen sharply and is now at 14 per cent, down from 18 per cent.

However, given the high level of 'don't knows', the core party figures arguably more accurately reflect public sentiment at this stage. On that basis, Fine Gael is at 19 per cent, Labour at 7 per cent, Fianna Fail at 18 per cent, Sinn Fein at 12 per cent and the independents at 9 per cent.

The public remains deeply disenchanted with how the Government is running the country and with the political system entirely, our new nationwide opinion poll reveals.

Almost three out of every four voters are unhappy with how the Government is running the country, and one in three said they would not vote for any of the current parties. The poll shows that public dissatisfaction with the Government and the wider political system remains high.

Seventy-one per cent were dissatisfied with the Government's running of the country, while only 20 per cent said they are satisfied, a clear indication that the increasingly positive sentiment among businesses has yet to filter through to the wider electorate.

In terms of leaders' popularity, Kenny and Micheal Martin are tied as most popular leader on 27 per cent; 55 per cent said they were dissatisfied with Martin compared with 64 per cent for the Taoiseach.

Despite the bounce in his support, Eamon Gilmore remains the least popular leader with 17 per cent satisfied with his leadership. He is just above the levels of popularity of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen in the months before his failed government fell.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has seen his popularity fall, but only marginally. Just under one in four, or 24 per cent, said they think he is doing a good job as leader, while 56 per cent said they were dissatisfied.

Sunday Independent

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