HOW low can Enda Kenny go?
His position was uncertain enough when Fine Gael was frozen on 30% and now that it has collapsed to the point where it is level with Fianna Fáil all the pressure is back on Mr Kenny once again.
With two of the past three polls showing Labour in a commanding lead, Fine Gael would be frightened enough, but to be flat-lining with Fianna Fáil will unleash feverish fear the party is now an irrelevance to swing voters.
As the country grapples with mass unemployment and faces into a double dip recession, and perhaps even bankruptcy and an humiliating EU bail-out, it is a political failure of the highest order for the main opposition party to be fighting for third place with such a discredited and derided force as Fianna Fáil.
Such a position must now bring back demands for change from within the FG parliamentary party.
This really is the last chance for rebels to move against Mr Kenny as the Dáil will soon become swelled-up in the slip stream of the budget and then the looming general election beyond.
But even if Mr Kenny decides the game is up and Richard Bruton is handed the crown without a fight, it is questionable whether it would do any good at this stage.
Eamon Gilmore may be derided by opponents as a policy free zone unwilling to take hard stances, but the public clearly do not care about that and instead see a champion who can channel their anger and tap into their need for change.
Labour had been pushing against a glass ceiling of some 42 seats maximum next time out because of its traditional lack of national reach and top heavy support in Dublin.
But this kind of lead over the other two parties would smash through that and could see it go into the fifties and just shade it as the largest force in the next Dáil – making Mr Gilmore Labour’s first Taoiseach.
A consistent trend is emerging across the polls. FF is down 18 points on 2007 and faces huge losses, FG is at stand-still at best, and Labour has absorbed all the anti-Government electoral spoils.
There may well be a big difference between what happens in opinion polls and the polling booth, but with Brian Cowen’s grip on the Dáil weakening by the day, the general election could come at any time – Fianna Fáil looks lost, Fine Gael looks mistrusted and Labour looks ready for lift off.
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