Adrian Kavanagh, 6th October 2016
After little change in party support levels had been evidenced in the wake of the February general election, a series of opinion polls in July 2016 (most notably the July Ipsos-MRBI poll) pointed to significant gains in support for Fianna Fail, pushing that party ahead of Fine Gael in terms of overall support levels. The general trend since then has been for Fianna Fail to maintain its position ahead of the other parties and groupings, including Fine Gael, at the head of subsequent opinion polls, although the party, on average, has lost some support relative to the high levels it attained in the July Ipsos-MRBI poll, while Sinn Fein – after a relatively disappointing general election – has made some notable gains in the most recent polls. This July Ipsos-MRBI poll had marked a notable break from the earlier post-election polls that preceded it. The latest Ipsos-MRBI poll is not as dramatic; although it does show a seven percentage point drop in Fianna Fail support, this probably merely reflects the trend that has been observed across other opinion polls over the past four months. This poll is notable because it shows Fine Gael drawing level with Fianna Fail, but other recent polls did not show a particularly sizable gap between these parties, in any case. This poll amounts to very good news for Sinn Fein, as that party now finds itself once again at the level of support it enjoyed in the two years before the February 2016 election. This is not a good poll for Labour, however, with that party staying at 5%; going somewhat against the trend in recent polls which saw that party clawing back the ground lost in the post-election polls.
The 6th October Irish Times/Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 26% (down 7% relative to the previous Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll), Independents and Others 24% (up 2%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3%, Social Democrats 2%, Green Party 3%, Renua <1%, Independents 15% – Fine Gael 26% (up 2%), Sinn Fein 19% (up 3%), Labour Party 5% (NC). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 48, Fine Gael 48, Sinn Fein 31, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3, Green Party 3, Labour Party 2, Social Democrats 2, Independents 22.