Give Me a Crash Course In . . . Opin­ion polls

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW - PAT LEAHY Po­lit­i­cal Editor

What did we learn from this week’s opin­ion polls?

The Ir­ish Times re­ported yes­ter­day that its Ip­sos MRBI opin­ion poll sug­gested a clear ma­jor­ity of likely vot­ers who ex­pressed a view is in favour of re­mov­ing the con­sti­tu­tional ban on abor­tion. Al­though sup­port for re­peal has slipped some­what since the last poll in Jan­uary, there is no growth in the sup­port for re­tain­ing the Eighth Amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Asked if they would vote in favour or against re­mov­ing the Eighth Amend­ment, 47 per cent of vot­ers said they would vote Yes, while 28 per cent said they would vote No. A fifth of vot­ers say they are un­de­cided, while 4 per cent re­fused to an­swer or say they will not vote. Once the un­de­cided and the likely non­vot­ers are ex­cluded, the ex­tent of the re­peal­ers’ lead is clear: 63 per cent to 37 per cent.

So is it a fait ac­com­pli?

The abor­tion ref­er­en­dum will not take place for an­other five weeks, and there is a lot of cam­paign­ing to come: vot­ers won’t de­cide on the fu­ture of the Eighth Amend­ment un­til May 25th. But un­less some­thing sub­stan­tial changes in the cam­paign over the com­ing weeks, the pro­posal to re­peal the amend­ment, and liberalise Ire­land’s abor­tion laws, will be passed.

It’s true that the re­peal vote has de- clined since Jan­uary. To­day 47 per cent of vot­ers say they will vote for re­peal; in Jan­uary, that fig­ure was 56 per cent. How­ever, this looks more like a nat­u­ral tight­en­ing of the cam­paign than a swing in mo­men­tum to­wards re­tain, whose vote is not grow­ing. The growth is in the num­ber of vot­ers who say they don’t know how they will vote yet.

Wasn’t there some­thing about pol­i­tics too?

Yes. An­other el­e­ment of the same poll showed that sup­port for Fine Gael, and Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar’s per­sonal ap­proval rat­ings, have both slipped in re­cent months. A three-point fall in Fine Gael sup­port and a five-point drop in Varad­kar’s rat­ing mark the end of an en­cour­ag­ing run in the polls for the Taoiseach and his party.

Is this bad news for Leo?

It’s not good, but the Taoiseach re­mains com­fort­ably the most pop­u­lar po­lit­i­cal leader and Fine Gael the strong­est party, hold­ing a five-point lead over its near­est ri­vals in Fianna Fáil. While Varad­kar’s per­sonal rat­ing falls from 60 per cent in Jan­uary to 55 per cent, his rat­ing is not only by far the high­est of any po­lit­i­cal leader to­day, it is higher than any po­lit­i­cal leader in the post-crash pe­riod.

If Fine Gael is down, who’s up?

The best news is for Sinn Féin, which gains three points in an en­cour­ag­ing show­ing un­der its new leader, Mary Lou Mc­Don­ald. The state of the par­ties, when un­de­cided vot­ers are ex­cluded, is: Fine Gael 31 per cent (down 3 points com­pared with the last poll in Jan­uary); Fianna Fáil 26 per cent (up 1); Sinn Féin 22 per cent (up 3); Labour 5 per cent (up 1); and In­de­pen­dents/Oth­ers 16 per cent (down 2).

Fine Gael sup­port re­mains high­est among the wealth­i­est vot­ers and farm­ers, while Fianna Fáil’s strong­est back­ers are older and ru­ral vot­ers. The party is stronger in Dublin, how­ever, than it has been in re­cent polls.

Sinn Féin re­mains most pop­u­lar among younger vot­ers and those in the worst-off sec­tions of so­ci­ety.

Who ex­actly thinks all this?

The poll was con­ducted on Mon­day and Tues­day of this week among a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of 1,200 vot­ers aged 18 and over in face-to-face in­ter­views. The in­ter­views were con­ducted at 120 sam­pling points in all con­stituen­cies. The mar­gin of er­ror is plus or mi­nus 2.8 per cent.

Fine Gael and Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar’s per­sonal ap­proval rat­ings have both slipped in re­cent months

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.