Monday 20 May 2019

Poll: Public optimism about future at its highest level since the crash

Enda Kenny has seen his popularity rating increase by six points
Enda Kenny has seen his popularity rating increase by six points

Daniel McConnell

Public optimism about the future is at its highest level since the financial crash, according to the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll.

The landmark poll has also found that satisfaction with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition (32pc), up seven points, is also at its highest level in more than three years.

The popularity of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny (31pc), up six points, and Labour leader Joan Burton (24pc), up four points, has also significantly increased, although Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (32pc), unchanged, records the highest satisfaction rating.

However, the Taoiseach and Tanaiste are the only two party leaders to have increased popular support and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams (27pc), down three points, is the only one to have experienced a decrease.

Yesterday, Paul Moran, associate director of Millward Brown, said the poll showed a positive trend that people were becoming less pessimistic about the future.

"We asked the population if they think they will be financially better off, worse off, or about the same this time next year. It is a metric we have tracked for over 25 years.

"However, these results are among the most significant results seen in more recent years - financial positivity towards the future is at its highest since the crash, and, for the first time since then, positivity is more or less on a par with negativity."

The poll has also found significant concern about the reported continued connection between Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA.

More than half (52pc) personally believe the IRA is still engaged in criminal activity and a similar half (49pc) believe the IRA Army Council oversees Sinn Fein. Less than a quarter (23pc) believe that the IRA is not involved in criminality or oversees the party.

The 'establishment' parties, Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail, have all decreased toxicity, while far-left parties have increased toxicity, with the Socialist Party (20pc) recording a seven-point increase.

However, Sinn Fein again registers the highest toxicity level, with 38pc of those polled - up seven points - saying they will not vote for that party.

The poll findings in relation to the mood of the nation will encourage the Coalition and lead it to hope it has finally turned a corner.

The poll shows that financial positivity about the future is at its highest since the crash and that, for the first time since then, positivity is on a par with negativity. In fact, positive sentiment has doubled since 2012, while negative sentiment has fallen by two-thirds in the same period.

In terms of individual party support, Fine Gael is benefiting more than Labour, notwithstanding a notable softening in the public's mood towards the Government.

The poll finds that dissatisfaction with the Government (60pc) has fallen seven points to its lowest level in three years, while satisfaction (32pc) is up seven points, its highest level since then.

The state of the parties is: Fine Gael (29pc) up five points; Fianna Fail (24pc) up one point; Sinn Fein (21pc) unchanged; Labour (7pc) unchanged; Greens (1pc) unchanged; and Independents (19pc) down five points.

There will be disappointment in Labour that it has not received a post-Budget 'bounce', but this poll offers the Coalition a strong platform to fight the election together.

Fianna Fail will also be pleased that the poll shows it has opened up a decisive lead over Sinn Fein, which has been stuck at the same level of support for three successive polls.

The rise in Fine Gael support has come at the expense of Independents and others who have fallen back to 19pc, their lowest level since February 2014.

The poll was carried out between October 28 and last Friday, November 6, in 999 face-to-face interviews nationwide. The margin of error is 3.1pc.

But Moran, of Millward Brown, warns that the renewed confidence is fragile and could be undone should Ireland suffer any external economic shocks. The comparable poll was published last July.

He writes in the Sunday Independent today: "Whilst the electorate is becoming more upbeat about the future, there is much political uncertainty ahead. Now is the time for the government parties to be creating real momentum if they are to have any chance of retaining the status quo."

The poll also records continued strong levels of opposition to water charges and Irish Water, although half (50pc) say it is inevitable that water will have to be paid for.

It also found that one in three does not feel safe on the streets and one in four does not feel safe in their homes.

Sunday Independent

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