Sinn Fein take first ever lead in RED C poll2021.09.13
Today Sinn Fein secure the lead party status for the first time in a RED C poll since we started tracking for this business post back in 2003. Their lead is gained not because they’ve grown in support themselves, but more because their support is solid, whilst support for the other parties appears weaker. It is however still a significant achievement for the party as they help capitalize on the wounds the government parties keep inflicting on themselves.
Cast your mind back to the fact but Fine Gael had a commanding lead in the polls as they dealt with the first wave of COVID-19 and the impact on society in Ireland. Since then a series of somewhat self-inflicted wounds and a move more into the background of the coalition parties, appear to have taken the wind out of the party sails.
Having said that the more recent issues around the Catherine Zappone appointment and the facts behind how it almost came about, do not appear to be severely damaging to the party. While there is clearly anger the twitter brigade to the events surrounding that possible appointment, it appears the majority expressing anger were unlikely to have voted for Fine Gael in the first place.
The issue does however appear to have had some impact on party support, as Fine Gael first preference vote drops to see them secure just 28% for the first time since before the pandemic began. However, that decline is only a two-point decline from where they were at before the controversy arose.
Likewise for Fianna Fail the Zappone controversy certainly hasn’t done the party any favours, but neither does it appear to have had any significant damage on the parties fortunes, based on their current position in the polls. That is not to say that the poll will make for good reading at the Fianna Fail think in this weekend. Since coming into the grand coalition government they have decline sin the polls to a level well below that they achieve at the last election, and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
This month Fianna Fail secure just 13% of the vote, some 10% below what they achieved at the last election, and a figure around which they have been hovering since May last year, with only small gains or losses.
There also appears to be a number of difficult decisions ahead for the Government as we move out of the pandemic phase. The majority of those with children are certainly against the introduction of masks in primary schools, while half the population think the government should extend the wage subsidy scheme beyond the end of the year. At the same time the public are split on whether we should be giving Covid 19 booster vaccines here, rather than sending spar vaccines aboard to poorer countries. All of which present difficult decisions for the government in the near future.
Any sign of electricity backouts as we move into winter, also presents a significant problem for the government. It seems clear that these would not be taken well by a public that doesn’t want to see data centres at the risk of blackouts, and would blame the government were they to occur.
All of which could be to the advantage of the somewhat smaller parties, who can potentially capitalise on the coalition’s woes. To some extent it appears have hit something of ceiling at close to 30% support, and instead one party that does seem to benefit from Fine Gael losses in this poll is the Labour party who see support rise by 2%. This could be as much about the increased saliency the party gained from the Ivana Bacik win in the Dublin Bay South by-election. But it provides some comfort that the party can build support in the face of weakening vote share for the current coalition. With the Social Democrats also securing 5% support in this poll, between them they certainly appear to be gaining enough supporters to push on should the fortunes of the bigger parties continue to slide.