Today’s Irish Times/Ipsos poll
What does it all mean?
Shane Heneghan writes:
At face value, there is little to take away from this poll. Fine Gael would seem to have a pre-campaign ceiling of just below 30%. Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are up and down 2% respectively which would suggest that moderate Republicans may be headed home to the soldiers of destiny. Perhaps this is a back and forth worth watching in the run up to the 1916 commemorations.
Labour on 7% seem to be struggling with their goal of getting to a base of 10% but of even greater concern to them will be the disappointing score of 11% in Dublin- home to most of their safer seats. Fianna Fail are also on 11% in Dublin and this will be the most negative ‘takeaway’ for them here as they seek to reclaim some of their losses from 2011.
Renua and the Social Democrats remain within the margin of error and the perceived wisdom that they will both be doing well to hang on to their sitting parliamentarians seems to be true.
When we break down the numbers demographically, it is interesting to see that if only farmers were allowed to vote Fianna Fail would probably be heading towards an overall majority. Fine Gael are similarly way out ahead with the high income AB group. In terms of age groups, both of the two civil war parties continue to do best among the over 65s.
All of the four main party leaders have alarmingly low approval ratings ranging between 28 and 32% – all of them down somewhat bar a minor increase for Joan Burton. This would hint at much disenchantment with politics in general.
This is the last ‘peace time’ poll before the campaign proper and the high number of voters backing independents and others (usually quite a fickle group) coupled with a reasonably large amount of undecideds would indicate the prospect of lot of voter volatility once the party machines get into full swing.
The glaringly obvious thing to note here is that were these numbers subbed into a general election, it’s likely that the heretofore nearly unspeakable “notion” of a Fine Gael/Fianna Fail grand coalition- (perhaps we could call it the “ara-sure-it’s-grand” coalition*) would be the only combination that might yield a stable government. The leadership of both parties may be faced with the unpalatable choice of this shotgun wedding versus another election within six months.
*Note to self -trademark this term
Shane Heneghan is Brussels-based election expert/Irish political anorak/poll number-cruncher and an integral part of Broadsheet’s ‘crack’ General Election 2016 team.