Pearse Doherty leads in Donegal South West by-election

One in two voters favours Eamon Gilmore as Taoiseach; Tainiste Mary Coughlan has 10% approval rating among Donegal voters. By Malachy Browne

Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty (pictured) will comfortably win the Donegal by-election if results of a new Red C poll mirror the Donegal South West by-election on Thursday 25 November. The poll shows Doherty with 40% of first preference votes and 19% of second preference votes. This places Doherty well ahead of Fianna Fail councillor Brian O'Domhnaill who polled in second place with 19% of first preference votes and 10% of second preference votes. The complete results are as follows:

By-election candidates - First Pref. -  Second Pref.

Pearse Doherty (Sinn Fein) 40% 19%

Barry O'Neill (Fine Gael) 16% 14%

Frank McBrearty Junior (Labour) 15% 20%

Thomas Pringle (Independent) 8% 9%

Ann McSweeney (Independent) 2% 7%

The Red C poll also asked Donegal South West voters their preferred candidate in a general election, including sitting TDs Mary Coughlan and Dinny McGinley. Pearse Doherty retained a clear lead at 31% of first preference votes. But surprisingly, Frank McBrearty Junior emerged as second favourite. Tainiste Mary Coughlan had an approval rating of just one in ten.

General election first preference votes:

Pearse Doherty (Sinn Fein) 31%

Frank McBrearty Junior (Labour) 18%

Dinny McGinley 13%

Barry O'Neill (Fine Gael) 12%

Mary Coughlan (Fianna Fail) 10%

Brian O'Domhnaill (Fianna Fail) 9%

Thomas Pringle (Independent) 6%

Ann McSweeney 1%

In a separate poll, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore emerged as a clear favourite as next Taoiseach. Boosted following his high-profile interview on the Late Late show on Friday, Gilmore polled a 46% approval rating, 28% ahead of nearest party leader, Enda Kenny who polled just 18%.

Brian Cowen received a 13% approval rating. Thirteen per cent of voters said they would rather none of main party leaders as Taoiseach and 10% said they don't know.

Persistent low polling by Enda Kenny indicates a failure to connect with the electorate and will undoubtedly raise questions once again about his suitability as leader of the party best poised to lead the next government.