By Zara Stout
CORK South West TD Holly Cairns is just two percentage points away from being the most-liked political leader in the country.
With a 43% approval rating, the newly-selected leader of the Social Democrats is just behind Tánaiste Micheál Martin (FF) according to the poll conducted by Ireland Thinks for last week’s Sunday Independent.
Holly now has a higher approval rating than Mary Lou McDonald, (41%) the seasoned leader of Sinn Féin, and a higher percentage than Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael (40%). Many parties experience a bounce in support from the arrival of a new leader, and some observers are calling this the ‘Holly hop’.
Deputy Cairns, from Turk Head outside Skibbereen, took control of the Social Democrats just over a week ago, after party co-founders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy stepped down. Since Deputy Cairns’ leadership has begun, the popularity of the party has shot up, in just a few days.
The party’s approval rating has jumped 5%, from 4% to 9%, now sitting above the Green Party, which remains static at 4%, while Green Party leader Eamon Ryan remains at the bottom of the poll of leaders’ popularity, at 22%.The Independents have a combined 10% of public support.
Sinn Féin are still the most popular party, on 29%, with Fine Gael on 21%, and Fianna Fáil on 19%.
Aontú, which recently chose Ballydehob resident, fishing lobbyist Patrick Murphy to run for them in the upcoming European elections, are at 3%.
Deputy Cairns is notably the only TD who represents a rural area, who is also a party leader. Last week she told The Southern Star that she was a ‘really determined’ leader and sees a strong future for the party.
The poll was conducted on Friday March 3rd, with a sample of 1,162 people.