Martin McGuinness, Michael D Higgins and Sean Gallagher are the big winners in the latest Presidential election opinion poll – with David Norris and Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell the biggest losers as their support plummets.
The latest series of controversial headlines surrounding Norris have cost him dearly after he dropped 14 points to just 11 per cent backing.
Mitchell is in line to become the fall guy of the election after slumping to just nine per cent support in the latest Irish Times/IPSOS MRBI poll.
Higgins is now the favorite to win the election but he does face strong competition from McGuinness and Independent candidate Sean Gallagher.
Labor Party veteran Higgins now stands on 23 per cent, three ahead of Gallagher who has shot up to 20 per cent with McGuinness in third place on 19 per cent.
Independent candidate Mary Davis is unchanged at 12 per cent while Dana Rosemary Scallon has just six per cent backing amongst the electorate.
Reacting to the poll, McGuinness said: “What we are seeing in these polls is a snapshot rather than a reflection of the true figures. I’m performing quite strongly and that’s very pleasing.”
Neither Mitchell nor Norris commented on the latest poll results which are catastrophic for both the Fine Gael candidate and the Independent Senator.
Higgins has even managed to overtake Mitchell in terms of support from within the traditional Fine Gael vote with Mitchell only enjoying 21 per cent support from his own party.
A spokesman for Mitchell did admit that the Dubliner is ‘very disappointed’ with the results.
The Higgins camp said they were ‘very pleased’ with the Irish Times poll while Gallagher’s press officer confirmed they won’t make any comments on any polls.
Independent hopeful and Special Olympics boss Davis said: “The polls are showing strong volatility. We are still three weeks out and this poll was taken in a very challenging time in my campaign, but I’ve managed to stay stable. I’m feeling quite comfortable at this stage.”
Dana commented: “I’ve never been more than 6pc in any poll.”
This latest Irish Times poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week amongst 1000 respondents across all constituencies.
Those polled were asked who they would for if the Presidential election was held tomorrow.
The figures, compared to the last Irish Times poll in July, show Higgins up five points to 23 per cent, Gallagher up seven to 20 per cent and McGuinness, who didn’t feature in the last poll, on 19 per cent.
Mary Davis registers no change at 12 per cent while Norris has dropped 14 per cent to 11 per cent and Mitchell is down 12 points to nine per cent.
The poll suggests the election will be a three horse race between Higgins, Gallagher and McGuinness with transfers likely to be crucial.
As with the main poll, Higgins fares best for transfers with Gallagher second and McGuinness third.
Support for Higgins is spread across all social categories and regions but he is weakest amongst the 18 to 24 sector and strongest amongst the over-65s.
McGuinness enjoys the backing of 70 per cent of Sinn Fein voters, is three times more popular with males than females and enjoys most support of all candidates amongst male voters.
The Sinn Fein candidate’s strongest support comes from working class and younger voters but he is weakest among middle class and older voters and struggles with Fianna Fail voters who see Gallagher as their preferred candidate.