Independents and minor parties on the rise
Only a few days before the election, polls continue to indicate that this might be the election of the independent candidates and smaller parties. The group of Independents and others has improved their total score from about 22% early this year to 25% in the latest Irish Polling Indicator, which combines all opinion polls into one estimate. Within that group the Social Democrats are doing particularly well recently, currently polling well over 3%, with AAA-PBP on almost 4% and Renua on 2%. Independent candidates, including the Independent alliance, are now on more than 14% support.
Sinn Féin, on the other hand, has seen a significant decline in support: from 19% in January to under 17% now. In 2015, the party was even competing with Fine Gael for first place, but that seems far out of reach now. Compared to the last election, seventeen per cent is still a considerable increase, but as in previous election the party seems to lose some support during the last weeks of campaigning.
The government parties are not getting any campaign boost either. Fine Gael did very well in the last part of 2015, but its momentum has stalled. The party is now at 28.5%, which puts the party in the lead, but it probably won’t be enough to save the coalition. This is also due to the poor showing of Labour, which is at 6.5% in the most recent Polling Indicator. This is a marginal decline from early this year (-1%), just at the borders of the margin of error.
Fianna Fáil is doing relatively well at 21%. There seems to be a modestly positive trend for the party over the last weeks, but this is also inside of the margin of error. With Sinn Féin slipping, however, Fianna Fáil is now the second party in the polls. Their former coalition partner, the Green Party, has improved a little bit over the last few months, but it still polling at low levels: just over 2%.
This is where the polls stand a couple of days before the elections, but it is important to note that some people still need to make up their minds. In most polls, more than 10% of respondents are still undecided. Moreover, the gap between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is much wider in some polls (10% with Red C) than others (4% with Millward Brown). This averages out to about 7.5% in the Polling Indicator, but the large discrepancies between pollsters point to some uncertainty as to exactly how big Fine Gael’s lead is.
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