Labour 'baffled' and fear no way back after lack of Budget bounce
Labour Party TDs are "baffled" and beginning to fear there may be no way back after failing to get any bounce in support after the giveaway Budget.
While their Coalition colleagues in Fine Gael jumped to 30pc, Labour dropped three points and is facing an electoral meltdown in four months' time.
Party strategists are struggling to understand the 7pc standing in the polls despite a month where leader Joan Burton won a battle with Enda Kenny over the date of the election, Budget 2016 was widely welcomed, and the same-sex marriage legislation was passed through the Oireachtas.
"A lot of hope was being placed on a Budget bounce so it's back to the drawing board, but in reality the clock is ticking now. It's hard to see how we can convince people to come back to us," said a Labour source.
Kerry TD Arthur Spring told the Irish Independent that he found the Red C poll for the 'Sunday Business Post' "actually confusing", while Senator John Whelan said it was "a bit baffling".
The support lost by Labour was picked up by their Coalition partners, Fine Gael, who went up 2pc and Fianna Fáil, who gained a similar boost to reach 20pc.
Despite the controversy of recent days over the continued existence of the Provisional IRA army council, Sinn Féin were unchanged at 16pc, although that is their lowest rating since November 2013.
Independent/Others, including Renua, the Green Party, AAA-PBP and the Social Democrats, were down 1pc at 27pc.
Dublin Central TD Joe Costello said he believed there was "a sort of glitch" in the system because of the margin of error. "It's holding its own, just fluctuating within the margin, but we'd certainly like some development to get above 10pc," he said. "That's where we were for three elections when Bertie (Ahern) won and we were in opposition for those elections. It would be nice to see the curve moving."
Mr Costello added: "There is a degree of stagnation that we need to get out of."
Former minister Willie Penrose, who is the final Labour TD yet to declare whether he will contest the General Election, described the poll as "alright". "I don't pass too much remark on opinion polls," he said.
Mr Spring told the Irish Independent he was "perplexed" and struggling to "rationalise" the support levels.
"It just feels like there is a movement out there and Labour are getting beaten up all the time," he said, adding that the reception on the doorstep has been better than the polls.
"We've delivered a lot. Yes we did break some promises, but we kept 90pc of them and got zero credit," he said. "It's nearly common policy to blame Labour for everything."
Mr Whelan, who will contest the election in Laois, said the party could have been "reasonably justified in expecting some bounce" in the latest poll. "We get the blame for everything and benefit for nothing.
"It all boils down to do we want to squander the recovery like we squandered the boom? I don't think people will roll the dice with their lives. That poll would put us somewhere close to chaos and instability," he said.
Fine Gael junior minister Damien English hit out at the Independents and Others saying they needed to "start offering solutions, instead of simply pointing out problems".