It’s rare you get two polls out in Ireland on the same weekend. Since they both suggest slightly different dramas the net effect seems to have been each to cancel the other out. Let’s take the Sunday Times poll first, from Stephen O’Brien on Twitter, who’ve gone with the FF FG neck and neck narrative:
Sunday Times/B&A pollFG 26 -4 FF 24 +2Lab 11 -1SF 19 +5Ind 18 -1Green 3 nc
— Stephen O’Brien (@sob999) January 26, 2013
Gav Reilly of the Journal has this as the before adjustment figures:
Before adjustment, FF leads FG in the Sunday Times/B&A poll (FF 28, FG 26, SF 20, Lab 10). After adjustment: FG 26, FF 24, SF 19, Lab 11
—Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) January 26, 2013
[That’s a typo on Gav’s part, FF are 24, not 14] My own quick read (ie, I’ve not seen the details beyond these tweeted headline figures) is that SF may be playing a role in the fall in support for the government. On the face of it, those who are moving away from FG (as those who deserted Labour before them) may be using SF as a first default.
The rise in SF’s support almost matches FG’s losses.
The Red C poll is much less theatrical and confirms Labour’s time in the basement is becoming a feature:
SBP/Red C poll: FG 28% (nc), Lab 11% (-3), FF 21% (+1), SF 19% (+2), Ind/oth 21% (nc). More here: businesspost.ie/#!story/Home/N…
— Sunday Business Post (@sundaybusiness) January 26, 2013
Even as Willie Penrose comes back into the parliamentary party (there was never much down that he wouldn’t) the internal strife within Labour must be killing their poll rating.
Both polls show why there has to be something in the next election for Sinn Fein, even if a pattern is emerging in the longer run of former FF voters just passing through SF from FG on their way home, the party must calculate that a chunk should stick with them.
Fianna Fail will no doubt play down the B&A poll, but it suggests to me that FG’s vote is softening, and a big chunk of it could be theirs for the taking over the next two years. There’s a long way to go, and the least expression of entitlement on their part will send voters scurrying elsewhere.
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