Sinn Féin dominates current policital polling2022.01.31
Despite most of this poll being conducted after it was clear that all restrictions would be lifted, this hasn’t led to any bounce in support for government parties.
Then again why would it? In reality when most people look at the lifting of restrictions, they don’t see this as a result of great government efforts, but rather simply the fact that the virus has got to a stage that has allowed the government to take this approach.
In fact, there were many looking across the water at the UK situation, who may feel that the government went too far in the restrictions over Christmas, and were perhaps too cautious.
Without any real gains for Government parties, this means that at the start of what is likely to be seen as the next phase of Irish politics (post Covid), Sinn Féin dominates in the polls. The party has secured a record 33% of the first preference vote for the third poll in a row. At the same time Fine Gael see support slip further backwards (even if only by 1%), leaving them securing just 21% of the vote, some 12% behind Sinn Féin.
The level of support that Sinn Féin currently enjoys is a far cry from where the party stood only weeks before the last general election towards the end of 2019. In late November of 2019 the party secured just 11% in our regular tracking poll, the election campaign saw a surge in support for the Sinn Féin to leave them securing 25% and be the largest party at the last general election.
Further gains were held at bay by a “rally round the flag” jump in support for Fine Gael as the Covid crisis unfolded, and they found them self still in interim government. But all that now feels like a long time ago, and the decline seen for Fine Gael have been a direct benefit to Sinn Féin in recent months. Further evidence of the fluid nature of the new Irish voter.
While support for the Sinn Féin used to be focused on younger age groups, they now lead among all except those aged 65 and over. The overriding reason for support by many is an anti FF/FG stance, among those fed up with the establishment not being seen to look after ordinary working people – in terms of housing, health and prosperity.
Given the speed of gains in support for Sinn Féin, there are questions around how stable that support is in the long term. Much will depend on how the Government performs over the next 2-3 years. Until now this government has been very heavily focused on the pandemic, and normal politics has taken something of a back seat, so what can they achieve in the eyes of voters outside of those constraints?
The economy is expected to surge during 2022, hopefully without the constraints of Covid 19 restrictions, and at the same time it does appear that house building numbers are starting to improve. Will a prosperous economy and signs of an answer to housing pressures lead some to consider their vote? Or will the increasing costs of living, and slow impact on any measures on housing, simply re-enforce voter’s current belief that someone else deserves a chance to have a go?
The new voters Sinn Féin have persuaded to support them in recent months come from across the political spectrum. Over a third, 34%, voted for Fianna Fáil at the last election, 21% voted Fine Gael, 17% gave Independent candidates their first preference, and another 12% voted Green in 2020. The new political landscape means that these voters are borrowed rather than secured for good, and Sinn Féin will need to try and show they can provide something different to the established parties.
These voters are more likely to be male, and be in the 25–44-year-old age groups, and are more likely to live in Munster. They are much more likely to be perhaps trapped in private rented accommodation, and don’t currently own their own home. They are also much more likely to not have a third level education. The overriding view among this cohort is that they have been left behind by the establishment and feel the squeeze of housing and rising inflation more than others.
There is still possibly three years to the next election, so plenty of time for twists and turns, and as we now know, the Irish voter is very prepared to change their mind. It is therefore still all to play for as we reset following two years of Covid 19.
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