The Red C opinion poll ,published last Sunday ,shows a combined Fine Gael and Fianna Fail vote of 38%. This is well ahead of the Sinn Fein vote of 31%. This belies the supposed inevitability of Finn Fein leading the next government. The Sinn Fein vote is very big but it is not increasing in recent polls.
The next largest bloc of votes are independent candidates who amassed 12%.
In terms of policy, the two parties forming the present government are closer to one another than either of them is to Sinn Fein.
Would independent oriented voters tip the balance toward Sinn Fein?
This seems unlikely if the voting pattern of independent TDs in the Dail is a guide. They tend to vote more with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail than with Sinn Fein.
It was also interesting to analyse the breakdown as between
Fine Gael does slightly better among female voters, and Fianna Fail does a bit better among male voters, but the margin is too small to signify much. Sinn Fein does equally well as between men and women (33%).
Age is a big differentiator. Sinn Fein gets 38% among voters aged between 35 and 54, but gets only 22% among voters who are over 55. These older voters remember the support Sinn Fein gave to the pointless armed struggle of the IRA, which caused so much pain and suffering.
In regional terms , Sinn Fein do slightly better in Leinster than they do elsewhere.
Fine Gael are comparatively at their weakest in Connacht/Ulster and strongest in Dublin and Leinster. Fianna Fail are relatively strongest in Connacht /Ulster. Independent candidates are relatively strongest in Connacht / Ulster too.
This suggests that Connacht/ Ulster may have the most leverage , when post Election decisions are being taken about the formation of the next government. None of the big parties is making an appeal to moderately socially conservative voters, which is an omission.
According to the poll, only 10% of voters have yet to make up their mind as to how they will vote. Many of these “undecideds” may not vote at all.