Sinn Féin has practically trebled its level of support among farmers. Despite the surge, farmer support for Mary Lou McDonald’s party still lags well behind its overall support levels.
Recent opinion polls have Sinn Féin at around 35%, twice the level of their support among farmers as indicated by the current Irish Farmers Journal survey.
This mirrors a constant trend over the last decade. For instance, in February 2016, prior to that month’s general election, Sinn Féin polled at 5% among farmers in an Irish Farmers Journal/Red C poll but gained 9.9% of the national vote in the actual election.
In 2018, support for Sinn Féin among farmers was indicated to have only increased slightly, to 6%. Even though Sinn Féin had a disappointing time in the 2019 local and European elections, the 11.7% euro elections vote and 9.4% local election support was higher.
‘Big two’ both suffer
It is clear from this series of polls that while it’s Fine Gael that is experiencing a big drop in support in recent years, the picture for Fianna Fáil is far from rosy either.
Fine Gael is currently at its lowest level of farmer voting support going all the way back to the Behaviour & Attitudes poll of 2007. Having soared from 40% in 2008 to a record high of 62% in 2011, Fine Gael has hovered around the 50% mark ever since.
Until now. The party is at 37%, a drop of 11% since 2018. It’s bound to be a matter of concern – indeed, the recent national agriculture conference held by the party in Tullamore may be seen as recognition of this downward trend in farmer support, and an attempt to address it.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil may say it is holding steady, with support currently at 23%. However, another way of looking at this is that Fianna Fáil is failing to regain any of the ground lost when a Fianna Fáil government was in power as the economy imploded, with current farmer support half that of 2008 levels.