Independent Senator David Norris is leading the opinion polls in the race to become President of Ireland – even though he has yet to secure a nomination.

Senator Norris is ahead of Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell and the Labor Party’s Michael D Higgins in the latest poll, published by the Irish Times on Wednesday.

The Dublin born intellectual and gay activist has yet to secure enough support from County Councils or members of the Irish parliament to run in the October election.

But Norris is still the people’s favorite to succeed Mary McAleese according to the latest Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll, conducted in face to face interviews with 1,000 pollsters last weekend.

The figures show Norris on 25 per cent support, four points ahead of recently declared Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell.

Galway’s Labor Party deputy Michael D Higgins is next best on 18 per cent.
Independents Sean Gallagher and Mary Davis, both of whom have enough Council support to run, are polling reasonably well on 13 and 12 per cent respectively.

But Fianna Fail may be best advised not to run a candidate as their popularity continues to plummet, particularly in Dublin.

Eamon O Cuiv, the favorite to run on a Fianna Fail ticket, came in last in the latest poll on just 11 per cent support with his party still regarded as ‘toxic’ in Dublin.

Just three months ahead of the election, 28 per cent of those polled have yet to decide on who they will vote for.

The poll also suggests that voters are keen to elect the candidate who will best represent Ireland.

The Irish Times reports that, when presented with a number of options, 38 per cent of voters said a candidate who could represent Ireland well was the most important; 17 per cent said honesty/reputation and nine per cent opted for personality. Just three per cent said a candidate’s political experience was the most important factor.

Norris gets his strongest backing in Dublin while he is weakest in Connacht-Ulster. In class terms, his support is strongest in the best-off AB category and weakest among farmers.

According to the paper, Norris is attracting significant backing from supporters of all the major political parties. Across the different age groups his strongest support comes from the 35- to 49-year-old age group, while he is weakest among the over 65s and the youngest 18- to 24-year-old group.

Fine Gael’s Mitchell is also strongest in Dublin and weakest in Connacht-Ulster. The strongest support for Mitchell comes from the youngest and oldest age groups. In class terms, the report states, his support is evenly spread.

Galway based Higgins is strongest in Munster and Connacht-Ulster and among the older age groups, while in class terms he is strongest in the lower middle-class C2 group.

Independents Gallagher and Davis have an even spread of support across the age groups and social classes but Davis fares considerably better among Fianna Fáil voters than Gallagher.