The Irish Times view on the latest opinion poll: a fight is on for the undecided vote

Sinn Féin remains the largest party but its support has fallen back, while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are holding steady

With a general election possible later this year the first Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll of 2024 shows a significant shift in the mood of the voters and indicates that the outcome of the election is wide open, with a quarter of the electorate still undecided.

The most notable feature of the poll is a sharp decline in support for Sinn Féin, accompanied by growing satisfaction with the Government and all three of the Coalition party leaders.

With a drop of six points since the last Irish Times poll in September, Sinn Féin, on 28 per cent, remains the largest party but it no longer looks like the unstoppable force it was two years ago. The decline in party support is accompanied by a slide in the satisfaction rating of party leader Mary Lou McDonald who now trails Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar.

The two big Government parties are holding steady with a marginal increase for Fine Gael, while the Greens have gone up two points to 5 per cent. The combined Coalition total of 44 per cent is now significantly ahead of Sinn Féin and if they transfer to each other at election they stand a fair chance of winning another term.


That said, Sinn Féin’s continuing status as the largest party will give it hope that the momentum of last year can be recovered. It can certainly entertain ambitions of making it into government as part of a coalition, although who its partners might be is an open question.

The public’s generally positive view of Micheál Martin in his two years as Taoiseach has helped him to retain the mantle of the most popular leader and that has rubbed off on his party, with Fianna Fáil support remaining solid on 20 per cent.

Leo Varadkar, like his party, has edged up one point but both will have to put on further support during the year if they are to have a strong chance of continuing their current coalition arrangement in the aftermath of the election.

The news for the Greens is encouraging, with the party increasing its support to 5 per cent. The key factor here has been a doubling of its vote in Dublin to 10 per cent, which – if maintained – gives the party a real chance of retaining many of its seats in the capital.

The other small party which can take positive news from the poll is the Social Democrats, who have doubled their support to 4 per cent, putting them level with Labour. There has also been an increase in support for small left wing parties.

While the total level of support for Independents and small parties has increased by three points to 25 per cent, the share of the vote going to non-party Independents is down slightly. Given undecided voters and Independents account for over 40 per cent of the electorate, it is impossible to predict what will happen when the election is called. All is still to play for.