Interesting poll figures tonight from the Irish Times [ah we love da horses! - Ed, foolishly attempting an ill-fitting northsider accent]. But let’s dispose of the distractions first.
Labour in a flat spin? Nah, not really. The sharp backdraft to the Gilmore Gale came with last December’s budget when it became clear that the government could not serve two masters at once.
What we see here is not that different to what Labour has registered all year.
If anything, the good news is that their base is holding, especially in Dublin where it continues to hold a significant position. It’s in the rest of the country they’re getting caned.
Government approval is low, 21%. But then it has been almost from the start. It’s also half way between the fortunes of the government parties. Fine Gael are on 31%, and Labour smack bang in the middle of their customary corridor of between 10% and 14%.
Fine Gael have not really moved anywhere since just after the election. In Dublin or anywhere else. The people who voted them in (private sector folk for the most part), may not be happy, but there’s less of a gap between what they promised and what’s being delivered.
There have been one or two exceptions (Big Phil and Dr Reilly), but the Taoiseach still impresses, and more than that, in my view, the Minister of Finance Michael Noonan has not made any major slips (yet).
The only movement we can be sure of is a definite rise in pro Fianna Fail sentiment. Not so much the party’s four per cent rise this time but a trend of seven per cent over two polls.
Perhaps most significantly they seem to be attracting increased support from Ds, Es and even C2s in Dublin. Something some FFers (and SFers) thought only a few months ago was quite beyond them.
In part, it’s a reward for playing some good politics along the way. Micheal Martin laid out an intelligent position well in advance of May’s referendum, and eschewed the siren call from Dev Og to hammer the government on a deal they had no choice but to accept.
And it is hard to doubt at this stage that Martin had a good Referendum. The party has worked hard to live down the terylyne-suited chancerist image of days gone by. There are few old stagers who hold the parties fort on TV, the emphasis is on youth, and policy.
Despite its four per cent drop, 20% is still more than twice Sinn Fein’s score in the general election. Yet it won’t have escaped their notice that their leader’s rating has dropped a full eight percentage points.
Mr Adams was made to look less than ordinary in the first scrap of the new political season. But Fianna Fail’s success in attracting back Ds and Es in Dublin may cause greater concern to party strategists.
It’s too early to plot this as a reliable long term trend. But regardless of what the polls say, Fianna Fail is has been since the election and substantially remains the second largest party in the state.