FINE GAEL AND Labour could be within touching distance of re-election, according to a new poll carried out for TheJournal.ie in the final days of the campaign.
Fine Gael is on 32% with Labour on 8%, giving the coalition parties a combined 40% that would be close to the 42% or 43% it would need in order to be in a position to return to government.
However, while Fine Gael is well on course to be the largest party in the 32nd Dáil, much will depend on Labour’s willingness to go back into government if it returns only a handful of TDs, as the poll suggests it might.
The poll was conducted for this website by market research students at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) who interviewed a random sample of over 1,000 adults between last Friday and Monday.
The poll indicates that Fine Gael, which has averaged 30% in the final opinion polls of the campaign, is on course to do slightly better on election day.
Although Enda Kenny’s party will be 4 percentage points down from its 2011 result, it is on course to be the largest party. However it will be significantly short of the 76 seats it won five years ago.
The poll has Labour well down on its 2011 result when it achieved 19% and took a historic 37 Dáil seats. On 8% in this poll, it’s unclear how many seats this would secure for Joan Burton’s party but less than 15 could make it difficult to return to government.
Fine Gael’s other possible coalition partner, Fianna Fáil, is on 20%, an improvement on the 17% support it secured in 2011 when it returned a historically low 20 seats.
Micheál Martin’s party has enjoyed a strong campaign with many expecting it to outperform the opinion polls on election day and boost its seat numbers significantly.
Fianna Fáil figures have repeatedly ruled out doing any form of post-election deal with Fine Gael and maintained that it wants to be the largest party and lead the next government.
Sinn Féin is on 15%, five percentage points higher than its 2011 result when it secured 14 seats.
The party is widely expected to increase its number of Dáil seats, but it has said repeatedly it will not go into government unless it is the largest party.
Independents are on 14%, while among the smaller parties the newly-formed Social Democrats come out on top with 4%.
This comes as the SocDems expect to win a handful of seats off the back of the strong performance of one of its leaders, Stephen Donnelly, in the second TV debate.
The Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit party is on 2%, as is Renua Ireland. The Green Party, which lost all six of its Dáil seats in 2011, is also on 2%.
The students interviewed a random sample of 1,014 adults between Friday 19 and Monday 22 February.
Interviews were conducted across the country using a random digit-dialing method involving a mix of both mobile and landline numbers which were used to ensure a random selection.
The results were weighted by age, gender, region and social grade and likelihood to vote according to election records.
Playing nasty: How social media became an election battleground in 2016