Tories see a grain of optimism in new poll numbers

James McLeod
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NDP public support crashes to even lower level

There’s a glimmer of hope for the Tory government in new poll numbers released Thursday — things aren’t getting worse, and since former premier Kathy Dunderdale resigned in January, things might actually be starting to get better.

For the first time in more than a year, a clear majority of the people polled by Corporate Research Associates (CRA) said they’re satisfied with the government’s performance.

The numbers jumped by 15 percentage points — from 42 per cent satisfied in December to 57 per cent today. The biggest thing to happen in that period was Dunderdale’s resignation in late January.

“That’s a significant message that the former premier was pretty unpopular,” CRA president Don Mills said. “That’s an enormous change. We don’t normally see that kind of shift.”

Among decided voters, the Tories now have 33 per cent of public support; the Liberals are way out in front with 53 per cent and the NDP is at 13 per cent.

Thursday’s poll was particularly grim for the New Democrats.

They took a big hit in public support before Christmas, in the wake of a messy caucus revolt and political meltdown.

But the most recent numbers show things have gotten even worse since then.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she wasn’t surprised.

“I was expecting it, actually,” she said. “I certainly didn’t expect a turnaround at this point.”

Michael said she feels like the party is already starting to bounce back, though, and she expects things will get better from here. She predicted the party could win the upcoming byelection to fill Dunderdale’s vacated seat.

Mills was less optimistic about the NDP’s prospects. He said that as it stands, the NDP is basically out of contention in provincial politics in the leadup to the next election.

“They’re completely off the chart. They’re not a factor,” Mills said. “It looked like a three-party race less than a year ago. It’s now becoming only a two-party race.”

The higher levels of voter satisfaction could mean the beginnings of a turnaround for the Tories — or they could just be a blip.

In the next few months, the PC leadership race will get underway, culminating in a delegated leadership convention in early July. That process will undoubtably influence the polling numbers for the party.

But Mills said a majority of voters being satisfied with the government’s performance is a reason for the Tories to be hopeful.

“The question will be, are these numbers sustainable?” Mills said. “This might be a one-quarter reaction to a change of leadership. But if they can stay above that 50 per cent satisfaction number, it means they have a chance.”

Premier Tom Marshall issued a statement saying he’s happy to see the improving poll numbers.

“We are encouraged to  see an increase in the latest poll numbers and we are grateful more people are satisfied,” the emailed statement from Marshall said. “We know we must continue to work hard for the people of the province.”

But more than anybody else, it was Liberal Leader Dwight Ball who had reason to be grinning after Thursday’s numbers came out.

His personal popularity numbers have more than doubled in the past year — from 17 per cent last year to 38 per cent now.

For a second straight quarter, the Liberals garnered the support of more than half the decided voters polled; if an election was held today, they would almost certainly win a majority government.

“No champagne in the caucus office, but we’re very pleased with the numbers today,” Ball said with a laugh. “We’ll just continue doing what we have been doing for, really, the last two years.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: NDP, Corporate Research Associates

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Recent comments

  • Rogers and Murphy Crying Now
    March 07, 2014 - 05:35

    The public has lost faith in Lorraine Michael's ability to lead. Rogers and Murphy slithered away from the movement to remove her and will be one term MHA's because of their choice.