As we head into the second month of lockdown since Christmas, it appears that the strict nature of the lockdown since the holidays, is actually seen to benefit Fianna Fail – who voters feel have shown a stricter view on how we approach managing with COVID-19.

There are many who might have expected the government to do poorly in today’s poll.  Given the issues surrounding school lockdowns, vaccine roll out, and the decision to open up for a meaningful Christmas, which now appears on the surface to have been a serious mistake.

A large proportion of the population are seen to be not happy with how good a job the government is doing at rolling out vaccines as quickly as possible. However, those who are most unhappy with the process, tend to be those that wouldn’t support the government parties anyway, and as such it doesn’t have as much impact on party support as people might expect.

One thing is clear from the results of today’s poll and that is that on the whole the public continues to favor a harder lockdown and stricter rules to bring an end to the rise of COVID-19 cases.

The recent introduction of stricter rules for travel certainly appear to appeal strongly to the public at large, with 86% of those we spoke to supporting the idea that people travelling to Ireland should have quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for 14 days, in order to reduce the risk of Covid 19 transmission.

We also asked if people believed that pubs and restaurants should remain closed, until most people had been vaccinated. Clearly this is a very strict position, but even still 70% of the public actually supports the idea. That is despite the fact that during the time that the poll was in field, it became clear that many may not be vaccinated until late into 2021.

With stricter rules in place, the result is that the government parties hold on to the same level of overall support at 50% of the population.  It is just the breakdown of that support which changes, as perhaps the more moderate Fine Gael fall back, and the perceived stricter Fianna Fail make gains.

Those most in favor of the strict measures are Fianna Fail voters. In fact, an astonishing 84% of those who say that they will vote for Fianna Fail at the next election, support the idea that pubs and restaurants remain closed indefinitely.

As a result of this perception of Fianna Fail perhaps being seen as the stricter party, they see support increase by 4% in today’s poll, securing 16% of the first preference vote. This is nowhere near where they have been in the past. However, it is a significant improvement on the 10% and 12% that they have been reaching in recent months.

Elsewhere, the poll sees Fine Gael retain their lead as the largest party in the country.  However, this lead and the party’s support in the polls, has been reduced over the Christmas Break.  Now 29% of the public suggest that they would give Fine Gael their first preference vote, down 4% on what they secured in November just prior to the Christmas break.   This level of support is also a long way down from the heady mid 30 levels that the party achieved at the start of the pandemic, when it was leading the interim government at the time.

Sinn Fein remains the second largest party in Ireland, but with support returning the 27% level they achieved for much of the autumn months. This will be disappointing for the party after they achieved their highest share of the vote in the last poll before Christmas securing 30% at that time.

It is not clear why the party has fallen back again. However, what we do see in the poll results is that Sinn Fein voters are most likely to disagree that the government is doing a good job at rolling out vaccines as quickly as possible. This could suggest its supporters want to see the party do more to force the vaccine rollout more quickly.

Most of the other parties retain support in and around the level seen in November. However, one result is worth mentioning which sees the Social Democrat party secure 5% in today’s poll.  This is a continued trend of support which saw the party gain supporters from October at 3% November at 4% and today’s poll of 5%.   The party’s strong publicity over recent months, in particular it’s focused support for strict quarantine of those visiting island, appears to have been instrumental in helping drive support.

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Business Post RED C Opinion Poll Report – Jan 2021