RED C: SF continues to slide, and it’s hard to see a credible way back for the coalition

Just quickly to bring us up to date with the latest Red C poll…

Two notable things. One is the rise again of independents, which puts my working theory of ‘convergence’ severely to the test. As the new Social Democrat candidate for East Cork Ken Curtain notes:

The other is the ongoing (if slow) decline in the Sinn Fein poll rating. Richard Colwell, the MD of RED C:

The really interesting trend over the longer term however, has instead been the decline in support for Sinn Fein. Perhaps another sign of the move away from the protest vote at polling in the mid-term, back towards the more established parties.
The fall in 1st preference support for the party in this poll, is relatively small at 2% and well within the margin of error, so could effectively be discounted. The longer term trend in support however tells another story.
Back in December we were recording the highest levels of support seen for Sinn Fein in any RED C poll, reaching a high of 24% of the first preference vote. In today’s poll they secured just 16%, the worst level seen for the party since February 2014. That means that in effect the party has lost 8% support over the first 9 months of the year.
Over that period the loss in support hasn’t been a steady decline, with drops in January and March following scandals that were soon reversed to some extent in the months afterwards. The problem is that the gains haven’t been as strong as the losses, and so one scandal after another has seen a gradual seepage of voters away from the party at almost 1% a month for the past nine months.

The exception seems to be Dublin, where Sinn Fein are currently registering the largest popular rating:

I’m not sure if that rating is contiguous with the EP elections, but that FF rating looks like a three point rise on its poor showing last year.. Looking at the Poll of Polls, the gaps are not yet showing over the medium to long term over all polls:

The key issue however is not yet who makes up the opposition, but how does the current government make it back with Labour ailing so badly? Despite a lot of speculation on the matter, it is unlikely that FG and FF will form any grand coalition.

Fianna Fail will probably want further time in opposition to sort out its new intake, and get ready for its second phase play.

Given this first term in opposition has been about proving it is the party of Opposition rather than a credible bid for power, we can only expect the shift to come after the election, depending of course where it lands in terms of new TDs.

Right now, the rating is probably underpowered by two or three percent. Certainly if it lands anywhere close to Adrian Kavanagh’s predictions it will be well short of what it needs for consolidatation, and questions will be asked of Micheal Martin:

But there’s a long way to go before then…

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