April Red C poll shows more movement than expected

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.

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  • Mayoman

    It must be borne in mind that the tolerance level on these polls is +/- 3% (http://www.redcresearch.ie/themethodology.html).Hence SF could still be as high as 11% and the PDs as low as 1%. PDs as low as 1/0%? Oh please let that be true at the election! In these circumstances, most changes are within the margin of error (as is the total support for PDs most of the time), so to say the SF support is ‘not as committed’ is very strong. Additionally, the margins of error are magnified if you restrict analysis to a certain group(young, female voters), so the results have to be looked at sceptically if a sub-group can be identified as being the main cause of a change within the margins of error. I would say you can’t really say anything about SF vote on these results.

  • Richard

    its the trend not the specific percentage thats important in this kind of poll. its a monthly tracking poll. its the trnds we should watch out for. The trend is down for SF and as we move towrads an election that should continue as we move from luxurious protest vote to bread and butter issues.

    IRA gone, whiff of sulphur gone, SF are now sseen as a mere democratic left with northern accents! Not many votes in that.

  • Mayoman

    One poll doesn’t make a trend I’m afraid. The trend for SF is up, even taking this into account (7% in the last election 8% now). The ‘trend’ (i.e. average over a few months or so) is even better for SF at around 9%. If you want to use the trend, its only good news for SF.

  • Cataegus

    “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.”

    I believe this is the same group that strongly supporter Hitler. What is it about the female psyche that is drawn to those with a tendency to totalitarian regimes? It somewhat flies in the face of the concept of Earth Mother sweetness, peaceful and all things good. Perhaps more the case that the male whilst potentially more violent is more willing to accept compromise and that the female is potentially more bitter and less forgiving. Just a thought.

    As for the polls one swallow dosn’t make a summer. Let us see if FF upward trend continues over 5-6 months.

  • richard

    So the SF trend is up : 7% in 2002 and 8% in 2006 – magnificent – break out the bubbly!!

    No bank robberies, no mccartneys, no adams economic gaffes, no IRA in the preceding weeks – people are bored with SF and conservatism of their outlook.

  • fair_deal


    It isn’t great news for Sinn fein in this poll but it is far from disastrous too but the methodology argument is a poor and desperate one.

    If you applied your logic in reverse the PD’s could be up to 7% and Sinn Fein down to 5%

  • Mick Fealty

    I’d be very tentative in reading this poll or any poll in isolation. But what makes it interesting is that in the last two years there has not been the slightest indication of any change – either for the government or for Sinn Fein. Though the Greens seemingly maintain their recent incremental advances.

    All opposition parties must be feeling some frustration at figuring where the momentum is going to come from to trigger any kind of renaissance in their fortunes.

    I’ve been arguing for some time (with zero tangible evidence that it accords with actual party strategy) that a re-invigorated Stormont might help SF get a renewed advantage over its rivals in the Republic.

    It might yet prove to be the difference between them and a worryingly static Labour Party, who have seriously hit the ‘horse latitudes’ of southern politics – I can’t remember when they last unhooked themselves from the 10, 11, 12 point slot.

    If such is the case, then the quality of the settlement in Northern Ireland on those issues which remain outstanding – ie policing and criminal justice – may prove a more important factor than the nature of the next MC report.

    In which case the DUP may have due cause to refuse to sign a deal in the currently allotted time frame.

  • Crat:

    “I believe this is the same group that strongly supporter Hitler.”

    *Stings for provos* 😉

  • Cataegus

    El Matador

    I have difficulty with anyone or group who justifies violence as a means to further their aims


    “a re-invigorated Stormont might help SF”

    I would be of the same opinion at the very least it increases their opportunity for publicity. It would also give them standing.

    The present drift benefits none of the main political parties and if it runs into the future will eventually create a situation that some future group may capitalise from. We will have a background of PFIs, increasing rates bills, water charges, changes in education etc Many of these will directly impinge on the local electorate and as they do all the political parties will come under pressure.

  • Mayoman

    Agreed Fair Deal. Even in SF polled at their very possible worst, they would still outpoll the very probable vote for PDs. And that doesn’t sound good for SF after all the bashing? Now you know why McDowell froths at the mouth at the mention of SF.

    PS. SF generally polls at least 2-3 points above predictions on the actual day. SF is likely to end up on at least 11% and possibly much more. So, Richard, believe me, the bubbly is on ice!!

    PPS. Does anyone think that McDowell SF’s Southern equivalent of the IKP up North? I think he is worth at least 2-3% for SF. I’d vote for SF just to p**s him off!! 😉

  • Keith M

    This is tyhe most interesting poll I’ve seen in a while and it confirms something that I said back in 2004 after the Euro and local elections. When people come to vote for a government they will look at the big pcture, and the big picture is the economy (stupid!).

    Putting this poll down to the Easter commemoration is simplistic in the extreme. It may have played a part, and if FF believe it did, then expect something similar in the run up to next year’s election. (Easter will be at the start of the election campaign if my sources are correct).

    As for SF, it’s now pretty clear the the party seem to have peaked a couple of years ago. Recent polls have shown the holding or in decline. As I have always maintained, the “left of Labour” niche is just that, a niche that other parties like National Labour, Cleann Na Pobleacta, The Workers Party and Democratic Left have found impossible to escape from.

    I still expect SF to gain seats but on 8% they’ll be far away from their stated pediction of 14 TDs.

  • Snuff

    Never write off the Germans and never write off Sin Fein. The guiding principle of SF is unity and not left wing politics of National Labour, wp etc. Expect SF to quietly dump any policies which prevent their march toward the centre ground.

  • Richard

    “the guiding principle of Sinn Fein is unity”?

    So THATS why they want to implement crown rule from stornmont? Thats why they made republicanism a dirty word through their sectarian campaign? Thats why their leadership strategy is bolstered by British Military Intelligence?

  • Rubicon

    Apart from survey error (already referred to above) there is a far more important factor – that of consituency variations and transfers.

    The swings and profiles in 1st preferences are interesting and I’m still wondering about those young females …

    An example, in the Assembly elections of Nov. 2003 SF had more 1st preferences than the UUP. The UUP got 27 seats and SF 24.

    Isn’t the SF strategy for the Dail election specifically focussed on a number of constituencies? If so, national polls are likely to show considerable variation from one to another.

    Not that I object to reflecting on young females but I think polls like this are better understood for smaller parties when compared with; the quotas SF/PD candidates got at the last count once transfers were taken in to account. It can take a significant vote shift to finish with more seats when your candidate is elected on the last count; i.e., the final elimination.

    As for Mick’s comment about the DUP perhaps having cause for delay – it’d be an interesting new string to DUP political analysis if this was to prove to be the case. I think they’re more likely to be considering NI vote impacts on them for making/not making the jump. Such considerations could lead them to the same conclusion …

  • George

    Not a good result for Sinn Fein but worse for Fine Gael and Labour.

    Seems that they are incapable of breaking beyond 23 and 12% respectively. The 22.5% for FG in 2002 was a total disaster and it looks like they still haven’t recovered from it 4 years later. Hell they got 27.5% in 1997 and still didn’t make it into government so this shows how far away Enda Kenny is from becoming Taoiseach.

    Labour got 12.9% in 1997 so they are in the same boat.

    I’m surprised by the Greens but it seems more and more possible that we might see a FF-Green coalition.

    This opinion poll should ensure that we won’t be hearing any more PD musings about potential coalitions with FG and Labour.

  • Fenian Bastard

    Is the electorate that gullible that FF gain 5 points on the basis on 1 easter commeration. Rather odd.

    Also exprected to see the PDs jump a point or two with their “low taxes” initative.

  • Dave

    I agree – a 1916 parade does not explain a 5% rise.

    I’d say the closer an election comes the greater the focus will be on the economy and thats where FF is strongest.

    For SF it must be worrying. At this stage – half a year on its clear that IRA decomissioning as not delivered for the party. It would appear -not just from this poll but from the preceeding ones – that SF is going to take up the old Workers Party/DL position in the South ie a 9 seat ceiling.

    For SF to have a serious future they need a big breakthrough in this election (18-20 seats) – only that sort of result will take them into a strong post-adams/mcguinness scenario. A micro-party led by Mary-lou or conor murphy etc will remain a micro-party.

    The Party has peaked in the North – if a large breakthrough fails in the south the party can no longer talk of the ‘rise of Sinn Fein’ and will stagnate.

    For Labout and FG I agree with all you’ve said.

    The Greens seem on the up – the ones to watch our for – the real Kingmakers. (and an all-ireland party).

  • Mick Fealty


    I agree on the Easter Commemoration. Though it’s hard to see why else the party could have ‘bounced’ so high in the last month. Mary O’Rouke reckons the calm created by a two week holiday for the Oireachtas had as much to do with it.

    Re the PD’s, it’s possibly not out there long enough to have had an effect. I’m also not sure this is likely to be the kind of measure that will substantially broaden its constituency. It will clearly play well in the core constituency, but to grow they need to get the message out to people beyond.

    O’Gorman’s choice for the PDs is more likely to push that party’s constituency out into its ‘socially liberal’ hinterland. O’Gorman himself pointed up his choice relating to party’s mix of liberal conviction and principle. He is a kind of missing link for a liberal democrat party, albeit one with a full set of teeth.

    Re SF, I’d say it’s a way too soon to write them off on one poll. They are better organised than any of their predecessors. And as Mayoman points out, even on this lower rating, they are well up on their performance the last General Election.

  • dave


    On this poll they are one percent up on the last general election. On a good day it could deliver 7 maybe 8 seats. It could also deliver less than 5 – (the glories of PR-STV)

    I do not write them off – they are here to stay – i merely say the envisaged breakthrough following decomissioning has not materialised. When you average all poll results since late 2004 the party has seen stasis. They need more than stasis to make a breakthrough in the south.

    On these sort of results (not merely the Red C 8% but the general stasis since 2004) the Party will only take up the old Workers Party position to the left of the Labour Party – that has a 9/10 seat ceiling.

  • Cataegus

    If SF has hit stasis, and it’s a big IF, I would be very interested in the physiological effect on supporters who are used to moving forward. Bright young things may start to consider careers elsewhere.

    With all the parties particularly the smaller ones it all depends on how their support is spread and local activity in target constituencies.


    “The Greens seem on the up – the ones to watch out for – the real Kingmakers. (and an all-Ireland party).”

    They bounce around from 3% to 8% I would expect them to find it difficult to stay at 7% or over, could be the percentage error giving inflated levels of support. If they continue up to 10% – 12% then we know something seismic is happening otherwise not worth getting excited. As for being all Ireland news to me and I can’t see that mattering much to their voters. Can’t see them wrenching Monaghan from SF on that basis.

  • Mick Fealty


    They are all Ireland, all isles, and all Europe in fact – although the structure is not tightly integrated.

  • I still expect SF to gain seats but on 8% they’ll be far away from their stated pediction of 14 TDs.



    Would you mind showing me exactly which SF figure predicted 14 seats?

    As I said on Balrog, this isn’t a great poll for SF but its hardly disastrous. SF generally poll better on election day than in opinion polls. Come the real results I’d expect SF to poll 10% and pick up at least 10 seats, thereby doubling their Dáil representation.

  • Cataegus


    “They are all Ireland, all isles, and all Europe in fact – although the structure is not tightly integrated.”

    Thanks and even more bewildered. Like your qualification on what sounds like a load of academic bull.

    I looked Comhaontas Glas up in Wikipedia and nothing there about all Ireland other than close links with Green Party NI and can’t see any reference on their web site. However under GPNI the description in Wikipedia is.

    “ The Green Party in Northern Ireland is a minor political party operating in Northern Ireland. In 2005 at their Annual Convention they voted to become a Region of the Irish Green Party and also have sought to become a branch of the Scottish Green Party while being recognised as an autonomous party by the Green Party of England and Wales. They claim that in this way, their North-South and East-West organisation makes them the only party in Northern Ireland to not only support the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, but also to live it through their organisational arrangements. “

    In my use of English, autonomous means self governing so the relationships on these islands would seem to be a little tilted as it is obvious that they are, or seek to be, part of Comhaontas Glas, but it is also obvious that there is not the same relationship with Britain.

    I then visited the European Federation of Green Parties and on the map about the only part of Western Europe not covered is NI (and Iceland) so assume they are not members in their European Federation. One then must assume that the European connection is through Comhaontas Glas and not the UK parties?

    This all puzzles me as surely their best prospect of an Assembly seat would be North Down, and I would imaging Councillor Brian Wilson won’t be rejoicing with such a close and patently unbalanced Irish dimension. Is the strategy to supplant the SDLP in North Down?

    One to keep in mind and see how it evolves. Does anyone know if I have this wrong?

  • Brian Boru

    It’s important to note a few things here. Firstly, while ever since 2002 the polls have generally been disastrous for FF – as were the local and euro elections 2 years ago – the chinks of light have always appeared during a Dail recess, or just after a popular budget. We had the popular “caring” budget this year, and FF had a bounce in the polls. Then the fade-factor weighed in and they fell to 35% and then 33%. Then we have another Dail recess and a 1916 parade and we get FF on 38%. They are wrapping themselves in the Tricolour to out-republican SF. Maybe Bertie will be tempted to do it again next year. Personally, as someone who probably regards FF-PD as the lesser of the evils, I would like to see this become a trend, and not just another false dawn.

    Glad at Fine Gael’s loss and Labour’s staticity. Concerned at the strength of the Green Party vote. FG-Lab on their own are 34%. However with the Greens they are 41%. FF-PD are 42%. So despite their drop SF could indeed by “kingmakers” here. But they are on the opposite end of the Left-Right spectrum to the PDs, so it’s debatable if they would prop up a FF-PD govt after having voted against them in a vote of no-confidence some years back (despite having voted for that govt in the vote for Taoiseach in 1997). I definitely cannot see SF propping up the Blueshirts either though.

    I think the role of the Independents will be decisive. FF will still lose seats even on this level of support. On 39% in 1992 they fell from 77 to 68 seats. But in 1997 they got 39.5% and got 77 seats. So it’s very difficult to be sure how many seats they will end up with. FG on 23% is near their disastrous nadir in 2002, but this should be taken with some pinch of salt because polls always underestimate their vote even in the worst of times. The Labour vote is probably accurately rated here. FG and Labour will certainly need the Greens to form a government and are deluding themselves if they think otherwise. Even then, under these poll findings, they might not command a majority and would need to turn to radical leftist TD’s. Not exactly what the economy needs. The voters do not trust FG on NI either.

  • Keith M

    November Rain “Would you mind showing me exactly which SF figure predicted 14 seats?”

    Caoimhín O Caoláin said he expected the party to win 14 seats in the next election, last yearIndded he even named the constituencies, apart from Dublin where he said they’d pick up two extra seats but didn’t say exactly where.

    At the time I offered a bet that Labour would get more seats, and no one took me up.

  • Ya don’t have a link for that by any chance, Keith? Thanks.

  • Padraig

    Looks like the tide has turned on Sinn Feins southern political ambitions. Witness the hysterical reaction of their supporters here.

    RTE’s program on the hungerstrike later this week, which is expected to show SF duplicity during the hungerstrikes will see support fall further. Goodby lads!

  • Keith M

    No sorry NR, I read it in the IT, and I don’t have a password for the site.

  • Dave

    Irish Times 02/11/05

    Sinn Féin targets 14 seats for next election
    Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

    Relavent section below;

    “Sinn Féin is confident of winning 14 seats in the next general election and may want to take part in a coalition, the party’s Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said.

    ……..Naming Sinn Féin’s target gains, Mr Ó Caoláin identified Cork North Central, Donegal North East, Donegal South West, Waterford, Wexford and two extra but unnamed Dublin constituencies.

  • Keith M

    Thanks Dave, I may have shite typing skills but I have the memory of an elephant.

  • Henry94

    I think 10 seats is the realistic Sinn Fein target and always was. Talking up the prospects is one thing but hard-nosed calculation is another.

    Labour are a study. Flat-lining and aging. If they don’t gain seats and end up in coalition with Fianna Fail it would be a bad long-term outcome. Of course their senior figures might get two terms as ministers but the party itself would be in trouble.

  • I’d agree with that Henry94. I think SF will poll about 10% and take about 10 seats, possibly as high as 12 if things go well.


    The only hysterical reaction on this thread is from yourself.

  • Padraig

    November Rain….look like I have struck a nerve with you! Fact is that SF have hit their high water mark in the south. Look how their supporters here today have started to row back on their election projections.

    I suspect that SF will loose some more of their southern support after RTE delves into the the scandal of how SF regarded the hunger strikers as “expendable”.

  • Crataegus


    The electorate have short memories. I wouldn’t write SF off so readily. However I don’t see them replacing either FG or FF as one of the major parties. The question is more where they will be in the pecking order of the smaller parties. In this context the points raised about Labour are interesting. What I would find interesting (from pure curiosity) is seeing how SF support reacts to reversal or lack of significant progress. It is difficult to see where the party will go in a post Adams era or how it can morph into something with wider appeal..