Sinn Fein’s surge in the Republic’s opinon polls on the back of the Irish government crisis and a strong showing in the Northern Ireland Assembly election is confirmed in today’s Sunday Times survey carried out by Behaviour & Atttitudes.
For the first time since the last February’s Dail election (in fact since November 2015) Sinn Fein is in second position with B & A, edging past Fine Gael by 23 to 22 per cent. As per other Irish pollsters’ findings delivered in the last month, Fine Gael is showing remarkable resilience considering the scandals enveloping its (minority) administration and the imminent departure of Taoiseach Enda Kenny: FG has actually put on 1 point since B & A’s 11 February survey.
Main opposition Fianna Fail’s perceived passivity in allowing the administration to continue on its troubled course is doing the party no favours in the polls: it is back down to its December score of 28 per cent. On the other hand, B & A’s commentary on the results puts that into context as being ‘just two points lower than its average level of support in the previous five polls’. The pollster also emphasises how FF chief Micheal Martin continues to top the party leader ratings, with a satisfaction rating of 49 per cent compared to 27 per cent for Kenny and 38 per cent for Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams.
With the internal race to replace Kenny as Fine Gael leader hotting up, the poll shows Leo Varadkar leading Simon Coveney by 30 to 18 per cent among all voters (others 18, ‘none of these’ or ‘don’t know’ 34). But for FG supporters, Coveney is narrowly the preferred man by 41 to 38 (others 13, none/DK 9). That may be a pointer as to how party members feel about the coming contest.
BEHAVIOUR & ATTITUDES
First preference voting intentions in per cent (change on February survey in brackets):
- Fianna Fail 28 (-4)
- Fine Gael 22 (+1)
- Sinn Fein 23 (+4)
- Labour 6 (nc)
- Greens 2 (nc)
- Social Democrats 1 (-1)
- Others 9 (nc)
- Independents 8 (nc)
Fieldwork: 28.03-08.03.2017. Release date: 12.03.2017. Participants: 934. Methodology: In-home, face-to-face interviews. Figures given here are for those certain to vote with adjustments for past voting. Full tables here.
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