Taoiseach Brian Cowen is leading Fianna Fail to record depths of unpopularity, a new opinion poll shows today.
Four-in-seven people who voted for his party in the 2007 general election have now deserted it.
The poll shows that Fine Gael, with 34pc, has twice the support of Fianna Fail who have plunged to an unprecedented 17pc.
And Mr Cowen remains the most unpopular leader in the country after his rating plunged another 6pc to a mere 15pc.
His party is now embedded in third place, well behind Labour who are marginally up at 24pc.
The disturbing trend for Fianna Fail is that the party's support has plummeted even further since the local and European elections wipeout in June.
The ratings, according to the TNS/mrbi poll in 'The Irish Times', come as the Government faces into a crucial four-month period and in the wake of further bleak economic figures.
If the opinion poll trends were translated into a general election now, Fianna Fail would face the prospect of losing 35 to 40 seats in a meltdown even worse than Fine Gael's in 2002.
The prospective coalition of Fine Gael and Labour now holds a seemingly unassailable lead on a combined support base of 58pc.
FF's support at 17pc is down a further 3pc on the last comparable poll taken before the European and local elections, where the party got 25pc of the vote at the ballot box.
Against these extraordinary figures, Mr Cowen is now faced with the prospect of passing the Lisbon Treaty, bringing in the NAMA legislation and pushing through spending cuts in the Budget.
Earlier yesterday Mr Cowen asked voters not to use Lisbon as a referendum on his Government's performance.
He said he won't resign if there is a second 'No' vote to Lisbon and he is not contemplating defeat in the referendum in a month's time.
The Taoiseach's separation of Lisbon from his coalition's unpopularity reflects concerns that the public will view the referendum as a means to kick him and the Government.
The opinion poll came amid new unemployment figures and a near half-billion euro hole in government coffers for August, contributing to an €18.7bn deficit for the year so far.
Within political circles it was thought the bad poll figures would actually help Mr Cowen to keep his party in line for the budget cuts ahead -- as there won't be any appetite to face the electorate.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael's support dropped by 2pc to 34pc since the previous poll, while Labour went up by 1pc to 24pc.
Sinn Fein is up 2pc to 10pc, the Green Party on 3pc is the same and Independents are also up 2pc to 12pc.
The Government's satisfaction rating is at 11pc, down 1pc on June, according to the poll.
But all the party leaders are suffering in the satisfaction stakes.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, on 47pc, remains the country's most popular political leader, although he drops 2pc. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is now the second most popular leader on 29pc, again down 2pc.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams on 28pc drops by 5pc.
Mr Cowen is followed closely in the leadership unpopularity stakes by his coalition colleague, Green Party Minister John Gormley, on 19pc -- down 8pc.
The figures for party political support are heavily adjusted, however, to take account of the 20pc of undecided voters, reflecting a lack of activity over the summer.
However, the season was busier than usual with the publication of the Bord Snip report, the debate on NAMA and the fallout from the local elections.
Source Irish Independent