Irish Polling Indicator, update January 2024

The past six months have changed the political discourse in Ireland. We have observed several crucial developments since the last blog post published in July 2023. But let’s go through this step by step. First, we inspect current levels of aggregated party support, before moving to developments over the past months. Finally, we present how issue priorities have changed since the summer of 2023.

Current Levels of Support

The most recent polling data indicates that Sinn Féin is still the most popular political party in Ireland. The party currently stands at 30.5%, with 95% uncertainty margins between 28.5% and 32.5%. Fine Gael [17.5%–22%] and Fianna Fáil [16.5%–20.5%] have similar levels of public support.

Independent candidates and other parties are now the fourth strongest actor, with 16.5% [14.5%–19%]. The Social Democrats, Green Party, and Labour all stand at around 3.5%. Solidarity-PBP is estimated to have 2.5% support, while Aontú has the least support among the parties listed, with an estimated 1.5% [1%–2.5%].

When looking at changes over time in the plot below, the rise in support for independent candidates and other parties is the most relevant development. Between the end of October 2023 and early January 2024, their estimated support has increased by around 4 percentage points.

Changes in Issue Priorities

We recently collected data on voters’ most important priorities expressed in the monthly Ireland Thinks/Sunday Independent polls since July 2023. These data allow us to assess how changes in issue importance correlate with party support.

The graph reveals notable shifts in public opinion regarding the most important priorities. Immigration has more than doubled over the past six months, starting at 13% in July 2023 and climbing to 25% by January 2024. For comparison: in June 2022, only 4% of voters mentioned immigration as one of the two most relevant priorities.

Kevin Cunningham convincingly argued that independent candidates hold the radical right vote. The established parties clearly struggle with how to respond to protests around the country, and we observed different stances between TDs and some local councillors. Immigration will clearly be a dominating issue in the upcoming local elections in June.

Housing remains the predominant concern, with around half of the respondents consistently ranking it as one of the top two priorities. The cost of living, while starting strong at 50% in July, has seen a more significant drop in public concern, reaching a low of 28% by January.

Healthcare is mentioned as one of the two most important priorities by around one in four voters. The issue of crime and drugs are relatively stable, on average mentioned by around 10% of respondents. Meanwhile, climate change has experienced a slight uptick in public concern, starting at 11% in July and reaching 15% in November, before dipping to 9% in January.

The coming weeks will show if immigration continues to rise as one of voters’ major concerns, which would put all government and opposition parties under even more pressure.

PS: For those interested in fine-grained results across subgroups and over time: We launched the Irish Demographic Polling Dashboard for sub-sample results from over 100 polls published between 2011 and 2023. Feel free to check it out and let us know what you think.

Author: Stefan Müller