Higgins extends his crushing lead in Irish presidential contest

Incumbent Michael D. Higgins continues to cruise towards victory in the Irish Republic’s Presidential election, due on 26 October. Higgins has even extended his overwhelming lead in today’s Red C/Paddy Power poll, advancing three points to 70 per cent of first preference voting intentions. He enjoys big majorities among supporters of all parties, among all age groups, and in all four regions of the country according to this research, the second poll of the campaign and the first to include the final slate of all officially nominated candidates.

Independent Sean Gallagher, Higgins’ leading opponent this year as in 2011, trails far behind on 14 per cent and has made up no ground in the past four weeks of campaigning. Sinn Fein, the only party to formally select a candidate, secures just 5 per cent with Liadh Ni Riada: tellingly, only 33 per cent of Sinn Fein supporters polled say they will vote for her, compared to 55 per cent backing Higgins. The remaining three runners, all independents, score just 11 per cent of voting intentions between them.

Some 68 per cent of respondents say they will ‘definitely vote’, compared to 71 per cent for a General Election and an actual turnout of 64 per cent for the recent referendum on abortion. Whether that figure will turn into reality on election day remains to be seen, particularly as Higgins appears to be moving untroubled towards a coronation for a second seven year term.


Chart by Visualizer


In terms of parliamentary voting intentions (see chart above), there is little movement this month for all the parties with the exception of the main opposition, Fianna Fail. It moves up five points in first preference support, to 27 per cent. However that apparently large gain should be put in the context of a three point drop in September’s Red C survey, and Fianna Fail shows few signs of breaking out of its 2018 polling range.


RED C 12 October
First preference voting intentions, per cent
(change on 16 September poll in brackets)

Michael D. Higgins (Independent) 70.0 (+3.0)
Sean Gallagher (Independent) 14.0 (-1.0)
Joan Freeman 6.0 (+3.0)
Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein) 5.0 (n/a)
Gavin Duffy 4.0 (-2.0)
Peter Casey 1.0 (nc)


First preference voting intentions, per cent
(change on 16 September poll in brackets)

Fine Gael 32.0 (-1.0)
Fianna Fail 27.0 (+5.0)
Sinn Fein 14.0 (nc)
Labour 5.0 (-1.0)
Independent Alliance 3.0 (-1.0)
Greens 3.0 (+1.0)
Solidarity-PBP 2.0 (nc)
Social Democrats 1.0 (-1.0)
Others 1.0 (nc)
Independents 12.0 (-1.0)


Fieldwork: 03.10-10.10.2018. Published: 12.10.2018. Participants: 939 (Presidency), 1000 (Parliament). Methodology: Telephone poll, weighted by likelihood to vote. Client: Paddy Power. 16 September poll carried out for Sunday Business Post. Full details from Red C here.