THE LATEST PRESIDENTIAL opinion polls have put Sean Gallagher firmly on course to become the next President of Ireland, holding a 14-point lead over Labour’s Michael D Higgins.
A Red C poll, to be published in tomorrow’s Sunday Business Post just four days before polling, shows Gallagher as having gained one percentage point on his showing from last week, standing on 40 per cent.
Labour’s Michael D Higgins drops one point to 26 per cent, and now stands 14 points behind his main rival, though he remains comfortably in second place, with double the share of third-placed Martin McGuinness on 13 per cent.
David Norris overtakes Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell to come into four place, gaining three points to move to 10 per cent, as Mitchell’s support continues to fall – he loses another 2 points to stand on 6.
The two female candidates remain at the bottom, though their order has reversed – Dana Rosemary Scallon’s support rises one point to 3 per cent, while Mary Davis falls to just 2 per cent.
The sampling for this week’s Red C poll was carried out between Tuesday and Thursday of this week. It showed that only 10 per cent of voters are undecided.
A second poll, published in the Sunday Times and carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes, also leaves Gallagher in the lead – in that poll, he holds a 38-26 lead over Higgins, while McGuinness stands third on 17.
In that poll, Gay Mitchell is on 8, David Norris on 6, Mary Davis on 3 and Dana Rosemary Scallon on 2. Similarly, only 10 per cent of voters have not decided who to vote for.
The Sunday Times’ poll also asks voters for their intentions on this week’s referenda – showing 87 per cent of voters in support of the referendum on judicial pay, compared to 8 per cent against and 5 per cent undecided.
76 per cent of voters in favour of the referendum on Oireachtas enquiries, while 18 per cent are opposed to it and 6 per cent undecided.
The improvement in Gallagher’s performance comes in spite of renewed focus on his status as a member of Fianna Fáil’s national executive, and increased media scrutiny on his business affairs.
It also comes despite what many had perceived to be a poor showing in last week’s RTÉ Prime Time debate – which had taken place after the polling in the last comparable SBP poll published last weekend.
Bookmakers Paddy Power have already slashed their odds on Gallagher now taking the position – despite rival Boylesports deciding to pay out on Higgins earlier this week.
Gallagher’s odds have now been cut to 1/5 – from 4/1 – while Higgins has been cut to 7/2. The remaining candidates are priced at 50/1 or better – indicating that the bookmakers now believe the election to firmly be a two-horse race.
Lesser-performing candidates now face a significant battle to reach the 12.5 per cent of the vote they will need in order to reclaim some of their election expenses.
Candidates must reach that threshold at any count in the election in order to qualify for a refund of their expenses, which is capped at €200,000.
Sunday Business Post/Red C opinion poll:
(Standing in last week’s SBP poll in brackets)
[Standings in Red C/Paddy Power poll from October 6 in square brackets]
- Sean Gallagher 40 (39) 
- Michael D Higgins 26 (27) 
- Martin McGuinness 13 (13) 
- David Norris 10 (7) 
- Gay Mitchell 6 (8) 
- Dana Rosemary Scallon 3 (2) 
- Mary Davis 2 (4) 
Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll:
- Sean Gallagher 38
- Michael D Higgins 26
- Martin McGuinness 17
- Gay Mitchell 8
- David Norris 6
- Mary Davis 3
- Dana Rosemary Scallon 2