I must admit to being puzzled by Jody Corcoran’s musings on Sunday that Fine Gael could be set to take government on their own. Puzzled mostly because for most of the last year they seem to have a natural ceiling beyond which they seem unable to punch.
Now the latest poll in his sister paper, the Irish Independent confirms that Fine Gael will not be surging on to victory on their own. Figures from Politics.ie show little change (except for FG and SF):
FF 16; FG 30 – 4; Lab 24; Grn 1; SF 13 + 3; Ind 15
In fact, Sinn Fein are now well within the percentage corridor that has consistently brought Labour something in the 20 seat margin.
Quite something for a party whose leader doesn’t know the current child benefit rate, nor the VAT for the Republic. His leadership satisfaction rating is 31%, a rise of three points since Sunday (though since Micheal Martin is already at 44%, I would take all of these ratings with half a bag of salt).
The truth is though, as Fionnan Sheahan pointed out this morning on Morning Ireland, that Sinn Fein’s message is both clear and crystalline, in contrast with other opposition parties, who will actually have to take some form of responsibility in the next government.
Watch Dublin now. There are a number of seats, in which Labour ought to looking for two seats where Sinn Fein are well placed to bring new TDs home. For instance, former Belfast City Councillor Eoin Ó Broin ran in Dún Laoghaire last time out, where there was virtually no party base.
Now he’s being run in Dublin Mid West, where Joanne Spain put in a very creditable performance last time out. With the rise in the party’s overall rating and Ó Broin’s unambiguous positioning on the left of Sinn Fein (and that’s no mean feat), I would say he’ll do well enough out of transfers from Labour’s Joanna Tuffey to get him over the line.
There’s a way to go yet. But despite the fact there will be some nervousness in the party about over egging expectations, Sinn Fein ought to make significant progress, even if it’s not the 20 seat ‘miracle’ currently forecast on these figures.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty