Wednesday 16 January 2019

James MacCarthy: FF wipe-out as Labour and FG battle for Dublin

Fianna Fail is facing the kind of wipe-out in Dublin that Fine Gael suffered in 2002. With 10pc support, Fianna Fail will be fighting for the final seat in five seaters and may be fortunate if it equals Fine Gael's tally of three seats in their annus horribilis.

This is the first poll to commit a full sample of 1,000 adults 18+ to the 12 constituencies that make up the capital -- the results give a clear indication of where the battle lines are now drawn.

Three-quarters of those who voted for Fianna Fail in 2007 now intend to desert the party -- so who is benefiting?

Fine Gael and Labour look set to divide most of the spoils between them and will be vying for first place in the capital, where Labour is currently edging it with 31pc (twice its 2007 vote), to 29pc (up 10 percentage points since 2007) for FG.


The potential coalition partners are appealing to quite different voter demographics.

Labour leads Fine Gael two to one among 18-to-24-year-olds, while older voters are more likely to opt for Fine Gael.

The vote splits on quite predictable social class lines, the more affluent ABC1 group strongly favour Fine Gael, while the blue-collar C2DE group again favour Labour by two to one. Finding cohesive policies to bridge these divides will be a major task.

Sinn Fein is likely to be disappointed with 11pc -- and it remains within margin of error of Fianna Fail. The party appears to be failing to capture the disenchanted Fianna Fail voter from 2007: only 5pc of whom now intend to support Sinn Fein.

In contrast, more than one in three ex-Fianna Fail voters have crossed the historical line and now intend to vote Fine Gael. The old divisions of Irish politics are crumbling.

The Green Party is on the brink in the capital, where five of its six seats are currently held. Its 3pc share would not yield any seats if spread evenly.

The vote for independent candidates is the other key finding of this poll. At 16pc they form a larger group than Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein or the Greens. This is double the vote achieved by independents across the Dublin constituencies in 2007.

So, there is clearly no sign of a Martin bounce in the capital. What of his personal rating? Thirty-seven percent are satisfied with his leadership -- well in excess of the party vote. By contrast, Enda Kenny only gets 25pc approval -- but, at this stage, there is no news in that.

The major party 'leader effect' seems to be with Gerry Adams. Fewer than three in 10 express satisfaction, while 56pc are actually dissatisfied with his leadership.

This is a huge drop from the satisfaction he would have achieved even a year ago and does not reflect well on voters' opinion of his foray into southern politics thus far.


Eamon Gilmore remains the most popular leader with 48pc satisfaction; moreover over half of Fine Gael supporters express satisfaction with its potential government partner -- which bodes well for future inter-party relations, if a coalition is the eventual outcome.

Despite the neck-and-neck positioning of Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein, people are quite clear that they want Fianna Fail to lead the opposition in the 31st Dail. Almost four in 10 favour this outcome compared with just 15pc who wish to see Sinn Fein occupy the most opposition benches.

This fact may have an influence on people's lower order preferences; voters may actually be more inclined to give Fianna Fail transfers than has been assumed up to now -- in order to stop Sinn Fein emerging as the larger party.

Almost two in three voters say the TV debates will not influence how they are going to vote, regardless of all the hype. That said, some 64pc also say they have or will watch the debates so there remains strong interest in them nonetheless.

The uncommitted voters express slightly more likelihood to be influenced by the debates, so there are definitely some voters' out there to be won on the performance of last night and the final two debates to come.

Expect the heat to turn up further in the capital as Labour and Fine Gael battle each other in order to maximise their seat numbers.

They may both have quite distinct support bases, but Fianna Fail's massive decline leaves rich seat pickings for both -- and independents as well.

James MacCarthy-Morrogh is Account Director with Millward Brown Lansdowne

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