Poll shows no Mayo breakthrough for Green Party and Sinn Féin

The results of a Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A ) opinion poll in county Mayo, carried out on behalf of The Mayo Advertiser, show a decline in the Fine Gael and Sinn Fein share of the vote, and an increase in support for Fianna Fail and Independents, when compared to the general election of 2016.

The results of the poll carry the warnings one associates with all opinion polls. They are a snapshot in time, and the circumstances in which the next election is fought may be very different from those of today.

The poll brings mixed news for Fine Gael. The party’s support has fallen by seven percentage points, from 51% at the 2016 election to 44% (excluding don’t knows and those who say they wont vote ) in our poll. While no party likes to see its ratings decline, this reduction in support will have been anticipated by party members. Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny proved a substantial vote getter in recent elections, and his absence from the ballot paper is expected to lead to a reduction in the party vote. At 44% support, the party looks certain to retain its two seats. The only question for Fine Gael is who will replace the former Taoiseach: will it be first timer Alan Dillon or Senator, and former T.D., Michelle Mulherin? As this poll was based on party support, and not on individual names on a sample ballot paper, that is a question that will not be answered until election day itself. Minister Michael Ring will once again have the unwelcome political tag of ‘home and dry’ and 'likely poll topper’. Not a man noted for complacency, he will make a huge effort to bring out his vote, and it is impossible not to see him as the leading Fine Gael candidate.

Fianna Fail will be encouraged by the poll results. The party secured two seats in the last general election with under 28% of the vote. Excluding don’t knows and those who say they wont vote, this poll puts the party on 31% support. Ensuring an even vote split should guarantee the party returns both sitting deputies, Dara Calleary T.D. and Lisa Chambers T.D.

There has been speculation that Senator Rose Conway-Walsh would be challenging for the fourth seat, but, based on these poll figures, this looks extremely unlikely. There is no doubt the Senator is considered a strong candidate, and is likely to outpoll her party’s support, but based on the party's 4% showing in this poll, it is impossible to see her finish ahead of the second candidate of either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail. The decline in the Sinn Fein vote apparent at the local elections earlier this year looks set to be repeated in the next general election.

The poll shows very little evidence of the ‘Green surge’ which was a factor in the 2019 local elections, and the European elections. Saoirse McHugh surprised many with her impressive showing in the May European elections, but there will be no Green T.D. elected for this constituency, based on our poll findings. Green party support has risen since the last general election, according to the poll, but they are still some way short of challenging for a seat.

The Labour Party registered 2% support in this poll, and they will not be targeting Mayo as somewhere they can pick up a seat.

Our poll shows an improved performance for Independents at 12%, but it is difficult to see anyone from this pool challenge the two larger parties.

Other points to note from the poll are the large number of undecided voters, at 28%, and those who say they will not vote, at 15%. This suggests there is a large constituency of voters out there who can still be won over, and this is one area which can give comfort to those who did not fare so well in our poll. In many ways, with such large undecided voter numbers, it is still all to play for and a surprise may yet be on the cards.

Fine Gael scored over 40% for both those polled under 45 years of age, and over 45 years of age. On the other hand, Fianna Fail scored much higher, at 36%, for those aged over 45, compared to just 19% for those aged under 45.

Of those who voted Fine Gael in 2016, 66% said they would vote for the party in the next general election, whereas 18% were undecided. The figures for Fianna Fail were more reassuring, with 77% saying they would stick with the party, and 11% undecided.

On the evidence of this poll, it looks like the status quo will remain, with two Fine Gael and two Fianna Fail deputies to be returned to the next Dail. But there are surprises in every election, and who knows under what circumstances the next contest will be fought. There may not be long to wait until the next election, but they say ‘a week is a long time in politics’, therefore a lot can happen in six or twelve months.

The Core Support for the parties was Fine Gael 25%, Fianna Fail 18%, Independents 7%, Labour 1%, Sinn Fein 2%, The Green Party 2%, Others 2% and Aontu 0%. 28% of those polled said they were undecided, and 15% said they would not vote.

Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A ) carried out this poll on behalf of The Mayo Advertiser in the three weeks ending on September 16 2019. The poll was conducted at 25 locations throughout county Mayo, where 250 people were sampled. These samples were based on CSO census 2016 figures for gender, age and area. Interviewing was completed face-to-face in voters homes. This was a quota controlled survey, resulting in a representative sample of adults residing in county Mayo. Based on the sample used, this opinion poll has a margin of error of 6%. Voters were asked ‘If there was a general election held tomorrow, to which party would you be most inclined to give your first preference vote?’.This was a countywide poll. For the 2016 general election, part of south Mayo was moved into the Galway West constituency and for the forthcoming general election, a smaller part of south Mayo will also vote in The Galway West constituency.

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