SF 'twice as popular as Labour'

Sinn Féin support is continuing to grow and the party is now attracting more than twice as many voters as the Labour Party, according…

Sinn Féin support is continuing to grow and the party is now attracting more than twice as many voters as the Labour Party, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

The poll also shows Fine Gael retaining its position as the biggest party in the State, while support for Fianna Fáil has increased for the first time since the last general election.  See interactive motion chart 1 and 2 below.

Satisfaction with the Government has increased since the last Irish Times poll five weeks ago but satisfaction with Taoiseach Enda Kenny has slipped.

When people were asked who they would vote for if a general election were held tomorrow, the figures for party support – when undecided voters are excluded – compared with the last Irish Times poll were: Fine Gael, 32 per cent (down one point); Labour, 10 per cent (down three); Fianna Fáil, 17 per cent (up three points); Sinn Féin, 24 per cent (up three points); Green Party, 2 per cent (no change); and Independents/ Others, 15 per cent (down two points).


The survey was undertaken between last Wednesday and Friday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.

The core vote for the parties compared with the last Irish Times poll was: Fine Gael, 23 per cent (down two points); Labour, 8 per cent (down two points); Fianna Fáil, 12 per cent (up one point); Sinn Féin, 18 per cent (up three points); Green Party, 1 per cent (no change); Independents/Others, 12 per cent (down one point); and undecided voters, 26 per cent (up one point).

The most dramatic change since the last poll is the continuing rise of Sinn Féin, which has reached a new high. The large amount of television and radio exposure for its campaign against the fiscal treaty has boosted Sinn Féin support. The party has consolidated its position in the poorest DE social category, where there is most opposition to the treaty. Party leader Gerry Adams has seen an eight-point jump in his rating, making him the most popular leader.

Motion chart graphic
(Click play and pause buttons to view relative poll % and TD numbers from 2007-12)

The decline in Labour support will be a cause of serious concern for the party. Support has almost halved since the last election and Labour now trails Sinn Féin in all parts of the country. The satisfaction rating of Eamon Gilmore has continued to slip and he is now far off the rating he held when Labour was in opposition.

Fine Gael has slipped marginally, but the party is still comfortably ahead of all other Dáil parties and not far off its general election performance. Fine Gael remains the dominant force among middle class voters and farmers, the two categories most strongly in support of a Yes vote in Thursday's referendum.

The improved satisfaction rating of the Government to 27 per cent will be a boost for both Coalition parties as it represents a welcome reversal of a downward trend since the election.

The poll also has good news for Fianna Fáil, with the party up three points to 17 per cent, and there is a significant jump of seven points in the satisfaction rating of leader Micheál Martin. The party's stance in favour of a Yes vote has done it no harm and the leader’s showing in referendum debates has helped boost his profile.

Interactive table of poll & election results from May 2007 - May 2012

The Green Party remains stuck on 2 per cent and is struggling to make an impact in the absence of Dáil representation.

The number supporting Independents and smaller parties has dropped by two points but there is still a significant level of support for parties and individuals outside the mainstream.

The number of undecided voters, at 26 per cent, is high, given the intensity of the referendum campaign, and it indicates that large swings in support are likely before the local and European elections in two years.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times