Sinn Fein support holds steady

The results of an mrbi poll in today’s Irish Times (subs needed) show a slight drop in support for Sinn Fein, from 12% to 11% although party leader Gerry Adams’ approval rating has plummeted 9 points to 42%. Core support for the party remains unchanged at 9%.Disapproval of Adams’ leadership of his party has also risen a whopping 14 points to 38%.

Bertie Ahern’s socialism approach seems to be working with Fianna Fail support up 3 points to 38% and satisfaction with the government now at a healthy 52%, up 9 points, the highest level of public support since the 2002 general election and approaching the level necessary to secure a third term in power. Satisfaction with Ahern is up 7 points to 60%, PD leader Mary Harney remains the same on 54%, Enda Kenny drops 2 to 44%, Labour’s Pat Rabitte is unchanged on 49% and the Green’s Trevor Sargeant is down 2 to 33%.

Apart from FF, coalition partners the PDs are the only other party to increase their support, up one to 4%.

Fine Gael are down 2 to 22%, Labour remain unchanged on 13% as do the Greens on 4%. Others are down 2 to 8%.

The poll was carried out on Monday and Tuesday of this week, before the IRA’s denial.

Ian McShane, managing director of TNS mrbi, deduces that the poll “only serves to strengthen the notion the ‘new’ Sinn Fein voter is unlikely to judge the party on the basis of the perceived actions of the IRA.

“Thus, despite the stated belief of both the Irish and British governments that the Northern Bank robbery was the work of the IRA, Sinn Fein’s potential vote remains unchanged.”

On the drop in support for Adams, McShane says that while the Sinn Fein leader’s personal rating has dropped 9 points, it is evident that looking at satisfaction levels with him since 2002 that his rating “has fluctuated from the low forties to the low fifties over the last number of years, while his party’s support has edged upwards over the same period”.

“The implication is that Sinn Fein is more likely than not to increase its representation in the Dail following the next election.

“In this regard, the degree to which the party’s candidate in the Meath by-election increases his share of the first-preference vote over the May 2002 general election could be a useful early indicator.”