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Poll Strong division among younger voters on immigration issues and candidates

The younger the voter, the more likely that a politician’s position on the issue will inform their vote, whether that position is pro- or anti-immigration, writes Dr Kevin Cunningham.

OUR LATEST POLL in The Journal/Ireland Thinks series looked at the issue of immigration and the European elections.

It offers a particularly interesting insight into the dynamics facing Ireland as it heads to the June vote. 

What we know so far is that immigration is rising as an issue in Ireland. We also know that immigration is an issue closer to the top of people’s minds when it comes to the European elections.

Some interesting facts emerge when we focus on younger voters. What is immediately noticeable from the data is how undifferentiated they are from the wider public.

Roughly a third of those aged under 35 indicate that they would vote for a candidate with strong anti-immigration views, no different from the wider population.

What might surprise folks is how the oldest age group tends to be the least likely to consider a strong anti-immigration party.

This may seem puzzling considering how supporters of parties that attract younger voters – the Green Party, Social Democrats and Solidarity-PBP – tend to be much clearer that they will not vote for a candidate with strong anti-immigration views.

However, it is also the age group that is most likely to explicitly state that they will NOT vote for such a candidate, with 41%.

It is therefore indicative of a strong division among younger voters in relation to this issue.

What is clearly linear is the extent to which immigration positions will influence vote. The younger the voter the more likely that a politician’s position on the issue will inform their vote, whether that position is pro- or anti-immigration.

While sample sizes limit our confidence here females under 35 do appear to be more liberal than males on this particular question. (This is replicated in a Red C poll last weekend for the Business Post, which asked if people would be in favour of EPP proposals to process asylum seekers outside the EU. Significantly more men said yes than women.)

However, the bigger divide among younger people seems to the difference between Dublin residents and those living outside of Dublin.

Among those living in Dublin there is much clearer opposition to anti-immigration candidates whereas outside of Dublin there 18-34 year olds are more attracted to this type of candidate.

The poll was carried out by Ireland Thinks between 1-10 March with a sample size of 1,287. The margin of error is 2.8%. 

Dr Kevin Cunningham is a lecturer at TU Dublin and managing director of Ireland Thinks.


This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.