I’ve been sceptical of the minor shifts in party support noted previously in the monthly, Sunday Business Post commissioned, Red C polls, and I remain sceptical, but the result of the April polling are in. In first preference voting intentions the main movements are – Fianna Fail up 5 points to 38%, Fine Gael down 2 to 23% and SF down 3 to 8%.. Labour stay at 11%, the Green Party at 7%, PDs at 4%. RTÉ are in no doubt that the Easter commemoration – and possible Bertie’s national conversation – played its part, as does Pat Leahy in the SBP. Red C’s managing director Richard Colwell adds his analysis hereRichard Colwell in the SBP –
What the major shifts in party support seen in this poll clearly identify is that there is a group of voters who may be more easily won and lost than might have been expected, and whose support can therefore still be won before the election.
On further investigation, the demographic groups that are most open to change appear to be younger voters, women and voters in Dublin, who have seen the biggest switch of vote from other parties to Fianna Fail over the Easter period.
Those in a middle-aged bracket – the 35-55 age group – tend to have made long-term decisions over their voting intentions and are less inclined to be swayed.
However, the younger 18-35 age group is more fickle and may yet hold the balance of power between the competing potential coalitions.
It is important to note that, in Ireland, these younger age groups are more heavily populated than in other countries and, therefore, are substantially more important to the parties fighting for support.
The fickle nature of these younger female voters, in particular, explains the negative impact on Sinn Fein support, as the party historically receives relatively strong support among this group.
On the other hand, Fianna Fail will be delighted to see that this poll suggests that Sinn Fein support is perhaps not as committed as might have been thought.
What this poll does to potential coalition support is to significantly widen the gap between the two coalition groups, from just 1 per cent in March to 8 per cent in April, and this again suggests that there is all to play for as the next election approaches.