Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Presidency polls put Higgins ahead

Opinion polls suggest Michael D Higgins could take a quarter of the vote in the presidential election

The battle for the presidency is being billed as a two-horse race after separate polls put Michael D Higgins in front with Sean Gallagher a close second.

The Labour TD has support from about a quarter of the electorate, while shock runner-up, businessman and Dragon's Den investor Sean Gallagher, has one-fifth.

A dire showing from Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, between 9-10%, prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to call for the party machine to get behind their man - the second rallying cry this week.

The results from Paddy Power bookmakers/Red C survey and the Irish Times Ipsos/MRBI were within the 3% margin of error and forecast transfers will decide the next president.

Labour's Michael D Higgins was on 23-25% and Independent Sean Gallagher on 20-21%, both well ahead of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness on 16-19% but lacking the ability to attract floating voters or transfers. Mr Mitchell has slumped to anywhere from fourth to sixth after his support nosedived in the last few weeks.

Pollsters analysing the figures claimed that the winning formula for Mr Higgins and Mr Gallagher may come from the man who captures both young and older voters over the next three weeks.

Other big losers are Senator David Norris following a week of questions about clemency letters he wrote in support of his ex-partner Ezra Nawi and an inability to answer on the controversy in a TV3 debate.

The PaddyPower/Red C poll revealed 59% of people polled believe Mr Norris should publish the correspondence. More than a third of his own supporters back publication. The latest poll was carried out using 1,000 interviews between October 3 and 5 among adults across the country.

Mr Higgins said the poll was consistent with the response he was getting on the street.

Opposition to individual candidates was also significant after people were asked who they did not want to see in the Aras - Mr McGuinness polled 34%. Dana and David Norris followed on 18% and 16%.

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