Latest poll confirms dramatic shift away from Fianna Fail…

Finally getting round to the Irish Times poll in today’s paper. The headlines read that this is the lowest showing in any poll for the paper for Fianna Fail. That’s not exactly news. In fact there’s remarkable convergence in two polls (ie this one and Red C’s) that often contain significant points of departure. Still, there’s a few points worth mentioning…First is that for all the talk about a shake up in Irish electoral politics, this is still a Civil War Party game. Fianna Fail’s 15 point tumble may take them down to 27% (26 Red C), but that’s still thirteen points higher than Labour. As Dan notes, the good news for the opposition is that a sizeable chunk of FF’s core vote is now floating:

The ice shelf of floating voters has calved from the frozen continent of FF and is now in open water. Currently it is located solidly in the territorial waters of FG and the Independents. Whether it stays there is an open question

The bad news is that all political leaders are universally unpopular: ie disapproval far outweighs approval. The most popular, Eamon Gilmore is only up 3 points to 38%. Cowen has plummeted by 21% while John Gormley and Gerry Adams are down 12%. This still makes Adams joint second most popular leader on 33% satisfaction, but just three points above his historic low in February 2005: just after the robbery of the Northern Bank.

Simon at Irish Election picks up on an interesting point in the power scrabble on the left: that Labour is strong amongst ABs and SF is stronger in the DE category. They are “also strongest among the 18 to 24-year-olds with 14 per cent”. He argues that those DE voters could be a future target for a Labour push.

Damian Loscher sees it slightly differently. He reckons that “Sinn Féin is holding steady with 8 per cent support and is well positioned to attract more young working-class voters if, or when, the recession really begins to bite.” Hmmm… except that they appear becalmed within their own base camp at the moment with little evidence they’ve gain from these early dramatic swings in the cycle.

With the guts of four years to run this poll warning is pretty unambiguous, but hardly decisive so far as any future election is concerned. As the Times editorial notes:

What is beyond doubt is that the electorate is deeply unsettled and is looking for clear direction and strong leadership. These findings are serious because the poll was conducted many weeks after the immediate heat of the Budget.

If that’s the case, Fine Gael’s ‘procyclical’ attack ads may be effective in attacking the government, but not necessarily great for turning round Enda Kenny’s own relatively poor showing (-2%) as leader.

Which is where the real deficit lies. A tangible threat from Fianna Fail’s point of view; and an opportunity for the opposition. Whether the latter is prepared or ready to provide an alternative vision; and whether they will ever get heard in the media if they do develop one, is another question entirely…

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  • “Labour is strong amongst ABs and SF is stronger in the DE category. They are “also strongest among the 18 to 24-year-olds with 14 per cent”. He argues that those DE voters could be a future target for a Labour push. ”

    Because those DE voters in places like Jobstown won’t be bitter at all about being abandoned by LabourDL back when champagne socialism was in vogue.

  • Ri Na Deise

    As soon as most of the ‘civil war voters’ die off the better. Disaffected young voters will always vote for the left(if they vote at all). With any luck FF and FG will be dead in the water in 20/30 years time. Now there would be a result.

  • paul kielty

    On the left, this was not a great poll for sinn fein, one would have thought they would have picked up at least a couple of percentage points from FF. It was even worse for labour, to drop a point, when one considers the huge media exposure they have been enjoying of late, especially post budget.

  • Llamedos

    With an excessively large tongue in cheek, would it not be a novel idea if Fianna Gael And the Progressive Democrats linked with the new Conservative and Unionist party in the North and followed the Fianna Fail/SDLP link up- just thinking aloud.

  • The _analyst

    Despite this disappointing poll outcome for FF they are comfortable in the knowledge that a General Election is a long way away. However, if their councillors become anxious about their prospects in the much closer local elections then Cowen and the party will have a problem. I suspect this is where the FF party feel most vulnerable. For the big events like General Elections and European campaigns they can call upon the most oiled election machinery in western europe but at local level it is not as easy to produce the same level of organisation or enthusiasm. When the economy was flying everybody wanted to be on the winning team but next year and the following it will all be about ‘the hair shirt’. No craic in knocking doors to deliver that message! If the economy goes into freefall with unemployment breaking all records then only might one see FF seeking to form a Government of National Unity which has occurred on occasions in the past when the Republic have faced crisis situations

  • picador

    And what exactly are Fine Gael going to do that’s different from Fianna Fáil? The conservatism of Irish people is shocking. Now where’s my pipe and slippers!?

  • Mick Fealty

    Paul,

    I would read a point as static. +/- 3% is the usual margin of error…

  • Ri Na Deise

    Sure half the fcukin eejits vote the same way as their parents/grandparents voted.

    Simple solution, ban people who vote for FF/FG from ever voting.

    2 crowds of degenerate corrupt gombeen men.

  • George

    FG need to ditch Kenny if they want to close the deal on getting into power. They might still make it with him but he is the weak link. Leo Varadkar’s demand for a pay freeze for all public servants seems to have struck a chord. These people are on the pig’s back and rather than cutting cervical cancer treatment, tackle them.

    Labour on the other hand is the party of the public service south of the border so it is no surprise that they are stagnating. They represent the strongest vested interest in the state. The day they come out against the madness of pre-determined pensions for public servants is the day they will be back on a Spring tide.

    As for SF, the jury is out on them but the rise in the support of the independents means they are still in the game. Adams losing ground is no bad thing because he is not a vote winner in the Republic, especially as we haven’t seen him in a year.

    FF presented the most cowardly, unimaginative, and crude budget possible. They have managed to blow their reputation in one fell swoop. It’s a long road back.

  • Dave

    “FF presented the most cowardly, unimaginative, and crude budget possible. They have managed to blow their reputation in one fell swoop. It’s a long road back.”

    Well, cutting a mere 2 billion in a budget where the deficit will be a projected 15-19 billion in 2009 is certainly cowardly. And given how the mollycoddled muppets screamed, marched and wept into RTE microphones about those modest cuts, why would the government even try to balance the books when said muppets prefer to live in a fantasy world where money can be borrowed against future generations in order to keep this generation in a style to which they have become accustomed but can’t afford? Medical cards should never have been made a ‘universal’ right. It is lunacy to expect taxpayers to pay the medical costs of those who can afford to pay their own bills. In addition, almost 60% of the total workforce in the private sector doesn’t have any pension plan. This generation of selfish, degenerate muppets expect the future generation to not only repay the massive debts that the state has accumulated via borrowing to continue public spending rather than cutting public spending but also to pay their pension as well! These clowns have one hell of a surprise in store by the time they expect to retire.

  • Paddy Matthews

    The bad news is that all political leaders are universally unpopular: ie disapproval far outweighs approval. The most popular, Eamon Gilmore is only up 3 points to 38%. Cowen has plummeted by 21% while John Gormley and Gerry Adams are down 12%. This still makes Adams joint second most popular leader on 33% satisfaction, but just three points above his historic low in February 2005: just after the robbery of the Northern Bank.

    Ehmmmm, nope…

    Gilmore is the only one to have more satisfied than dissatisfied – a net rating of +7%

    The remainder are:

    Adams: -4%,
    Kenny: -13%,
    Gormley: -20%,

    and Cowen an outstanding -35%

  • George

    Dave,
    Medical cards should never have been made a ‘universal’ right. It is lunacy to expect taxpayers to pay the medical costs of those who can afford to pay their own bills.

    That’s where we differ as I don’t believe in a two-tier health service. I would favour compulsory health insurance for all with those who can afford it paying more.

    A health service with two access levels (wealthy and the rest) is not the way forward.

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    Some good points above . We ran into a similar problem in the 1980’s when the public sector and their union backers very nearly bankrupted the country with their ‘greed’ At the time 250,000 people emigrated IIRC . I wonder what the price will be this time before the ‘protected’ sector faces economic reality ?

    ‘In addition, almost 60% of the total workforce in the private sector doesn’t have any pension plan. ‘

    Everybody in Ireland is covered by the States senior citizen formerly old age pension both contributory and non contributory . The aged in Ireland get a good deal and significantly better than in the UK or USA or most countries in the EU . One of the reasons for this is that the number of aged people (65 plus) as a percentage of the population has been lower in the Republic due to past emigration and a much higher birthrate. This is of course now changing so longer term this ‘provision’ will be under pressure .

    FF have nothing to worry from either Kenny or Gilmore . The former is a good and decent man but not the kind of ‘politician ‘ Ireland elects as Taoiseach . We had a chap like him many moons ago name of Jack Lynch ;). Gilmore faces two problems -one is competition on the left from SF and secondly as George points out accurately above they (the Irish Labour Party)are ‘terrified ‘ to tackle the public service .

    Tackling public service expenditure is a politically unpopular course in the Republic and normally a predictor of electoral defeat . Fine Gael coalition Governments have foundered and collapsed due to political ineptitude in this regard . In addition the multi seat constituency electoral system gives ‘ sophisticated ‘ voters plenty of leeway to take ‘revenge’ on those politicians who advocate too strongly the need for severe pruning of the public sector .

    Cowen’s first budget will have to be reviewed in the new year in the light of the fast changing world economic conditions .

    Anyway it’s 4 years to the next election and this gives Mr Cowen enough time to prove himself capable of reversing the figures in the current poll.