The Liberals are riding high, and for Premier Kathy Dunderdale, there may be a glimmer of hope, but polling numbers published Wednesday show just how completely disastrous the NDP October meltdown was.
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball is currently the most popular political leader in the province, and the Liberals are higher in the polls than at any time in the past decade.
— Photo by James McLeod/ The Telegram
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael went from being the most popular political leader in the province to the least popular in the span of three months, and her party’s public support crashed to its lowest level of public support in more than two years.
If an election were held today, the Liberals could count on 52 per cent of decided voters. The PC party would get 29 per cent and the NDP would be at 19 per cent.
Things are still bad for the Tories, but their party support went up a bit in the last three months, and the number of people who are dissatisfied with the government has dropped a bit.
A majority of the people polled — 52 per cent — still say they’re dissatisfied with the way Dunderdale is running the government, but back in August, 64 per cent of people were dissatisfied.
Dunderdale said that’s evidence she has “turned the corner” and that political popularity is on the way back up.
She said she’s got to do a better job communicating to people, to get out the message that things are great in Newfoundland and Labrador right now.
“By every measurement, this province is leading the country. We have never been as well off, doing as well — economically as well as socially,” she said.
“There’s no corruption. There’s nothing untoward going on here. What you’re seeing is the result of good governance.”
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball tried to sound modest about Wednesday’s poll numbers. According to CRA, he’s the most popular of the three party leaders in the province, and if an election were held today, the Liberals would likely win an overwhelming majority government.
“We see this as positive news today, but there’s still work to be done,” he said. “Our objective is still the same — to continue to grow, and to be the government in 2015.”
Corporate Research Associates CEO Don Mills said the Liberals likely won’t stay at 52 per cent public support. They’re currently benefitting from their recent leadership race and likely pulling support away from the NDP, which has fallen apart in recent months.
But when you look how far they’ve come, this week’s numbers are great news for the Grits.
“It certainly is a boost for the fortunes of the Liberals, who looked dead in the water only a year ago,” Mills said.
As for the NDP, Mills called their implosion “unbelievable.”
When Michael’s four fellow MHAs signed a letter questioning her leadership and calling for her to step aside, NDP MHA George Murphy recanted, said he “betrayed” Michael and cried on live radio.
Two other MHAs — Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore — quit the party’s caucus to sit as independents in the House of Assembly.
On Wednesday, Michael acknowledged the polling numbers are bad and placed the blame entirely on Kirby and Mitchelmore.
“In choosing to leave rather than sit at the table and discuss, Mr. Kirby and Mr. Mitchelmore have refused to stay and help build our party, and instead have done damage,” she said.
When people were asked in August who the best choice for premier of the province is, 35 per cent of people said Michael was the best choice. The poll numbers released Wednesday show Michael has about 18 per cent public support following the caucus revolt.
But she said that wasn’t her fault either, and it was all tied up in Kirby and Mitchelmore’s decision to quit.
“I think I can understand why people would relate all of it together. I’m the leader as this happened, and I’m sure that reflects how they’re looking at me,” she said.
The poll surveyed 1,200 people in the province from Nov. 7-30. It’s considered accurate within a margin of error of 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20.