| 4.8°C Dublin

Paul Moran: Poll could end up more about style than substance

Close

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin tried to stop a shot when he visited Fettercairn Community Centre, Tallaght, Dublin yesterday evening

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin tried to stop a shot when he visited Fettercairn Community Centre, Tallaght, Dublin yesterday evening

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin tried to stop a shot when he visited Fettercairn Community Centre, Tallaght, Dublin yesterday evening

THE phoney war is finally over. Now that the election has been finally called, it's more timely than ever to gauge the mood of the nation.

This latest Millward Brown Lansdowne opinion poll, conducted on Saturday and Monday, offers mixed comfort for the leading players in Election 2011.

The headline figures are undoubtedly the lack of any meaningful bounce for Fianna Fail following the appointment of Micheal Martin as party leader, the consolidation of a left-wing "bloc" and the apparent inability of Fine Gael to capitalise on the travails of the Government.

Coupled with the announcement of yet more high profile resignations, Micheal Martin and his strategists will surely be worried that the electorate, at best, is unmoved by the new "contrite" Fianna Fail.

The positives for Fianna Fail are that the haemorrhaging in support from the party has at least halted, and that there is at least three weeks to go on the offensive against the opposition parties.

However, it is in fifth place in the capital (with just 11pc support), and this does not bode well. Resuscitation in Dublin may already be a step too far.

Fine Gael will be concerned at the drop in momentum over the weekend. It seems that each time the party creates some clear water between itself and others, the wind is taken from its sails.

On a more positive note for the party, it has the most even support across all four regions.

In addition, it is the best supported party among the younger age groups (34pc of 18-24 year olds and over one in four 25-34 year olds do likewise).

This generation, of whom many have known nothing but a Fianna Fail-led government, seem to be ready for change.

At 24pc, Labour has consolidated its claim as the second force in politics, and is within touching distance of Fine Gael in Dublin (29pc versus 30 pc respectively).

Its support is also broad, drawing evenly between white collar (ABC1) and blue collar (C2DE) voters. It is driven by nearly three in 10 (29pc) voters aged 35-49.

Strategists of the party will be seeking to capitalise on this base, and translate the "Gilmore Gale" into meaningful seat increases.

Sinn Fein, a potential threat to Labour on the left, will also be pleased with these results, with 13pc claiming they will vote for it.

As we have seen before, a large part of its core vote comes from the young, with 19pc of those under the age of 35 endorsing the party, along with 18pc of C2DEs. Its heartland remains Connacht/Ulster; the Pearse Doherty honeymoon period is continuing.

In the run-up to this election, more than any other in the recent past, the contribution of Independents has been in sharp focus.

This fragmentation is evident again in the findings of this poll, with one in seven (15pc) nominating an Independent as their first choice.

Interestingly, the influence of the Independents also spreads quite evenly among age, social class and region. Apparently there is one suitable for everybody.

The Greens seem to have fallen victim to the curse of being the junior partner in coalition.

On the basis of these results (just 1pc), and its lack of any meaningful regional stronghold, it may well be in danger of electoral oblivion, and could be lucky to play little, if any, role in the 31st Dail.

Leadership and personality could play a more important role than ever in this general election.

With Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour all claiming that their policy documents, for one reason or another, will be strait-jacketed by the IMF/EU bailout, it may well turn out that this election becomes more about style than policy substance.

Paul Moran is a Research Project Manager with Millward Brown Lansdowne

Irish Independent