Where is the Fianna Fail voter?

Published by: Richard Colwell


A month on from the worst poll for Fianna Fail since we started polling and things have not got much better of the party.  Today sees just a small upward tick in support for the party in our poll, while Fine Gael continues to make gains to record one of the highest first preferences recorded by the party. So, is it as simple as voters moving from Fianna Fail to Fine Gael?

To some degree there has certainly been a shift of voters from one to the other of the current coalition parties.  According to today’s poll Fianna Fail has lost 11% of the first preference votes they secured at the last general election. This is half of all first preference votes they got at GE 2020 just 8 months ago, and means they currently stand at just 11%.

At the same time Fine Gael has benefited to the tune of an “extra” 16% of the first preference vote since GE 2020, leaving the party securing a very significant 37% of the first preference vote in today’s poll.

In our polling we make sure we have the right proportion of people who voted for each party at the last general election, which means we have a good base to examine how those who voted at the last election for each of the parties, are now thinking of voting.

From this analysis, the switch in support between what was historically the two largest parties, is part due to a straight transfer of support, with a significant 1 in 4 of the potentially lapsed Fianna Fail voters switching directly to Fine Gael.  But this does not explain all of the transfer of votes.

Another 1 in 5 (18%) of those who voted for Fianna Fail at the last election, are currently undecided about how they would vote.  This move to being undecided rather than expressing support for another party, tends to suggest that the voters could be more easily won back.  In our internal analysis, if just 1 in 3 of those went back to the party, support would be back up at around 13-14% of the first preference vote overall.  Not where the party wants to be, but certainly a better base than the topline poll figures suggest.

Finally, Fianna Fail is also losing voters to Sinn Fein, with another 13% of those who voted for the party at the last general election now switching allegiance.

The voters that have moved away from Fianna Fail appear to be more those in younger age groups, where the party was already finding it difficult to gain traction.  In fact, the parties support in the under 35 year old age group now stands at just 8%, down significantly since the last election.  This coincides with poor support in Dublin, where there is a higher proportion on younger voters anyway.  The party is at just 7% support in Dublin, putting it in in third place behind the Green party, and only just ahead of Labour.

However perhaps even more worrying is the drop in support among what has been the parties loyal base up to now, that being those in the older over 60 age groups.   The party vote at the last election was heavily underpinned by older voters, with about two fifths of all its voters being over 60. However, recent polls have seen support among this core group also seep away, with a drop of 10% in total first preference vote among these older voters.

All in all, another poll that isn’t pleasant reading for Fianna Fail, but digging beneath the topline numbers suggests it could be slightly better if they can win back some easier undecided voters.  A greater worry is the fall off is loyal older voters that appear to have moved more so to Fine Gael, and one might argue these could be won back once the COVID situation subsides.  Fundamentally however the party needs to find a way to connect with younger voters, for longer term viability.

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October 2020 Poll