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If there isn’t already a handbook for politicians on how to answer questions about falling support numbers in public opinion polls, Kathy Dunderdale’s government could write one.

Setting aside the tired truisms — “a poll is just a snapshot in time” and “the only poll that counts is on election day,” (at least in the beginning) — the Tories sent out Jerome Kennedy to address particularly bad numbers with a statement that his party is taking those numbers seriously.

They’d have to be: the Tories are now in third place, behind the NDP and the Liberals, and Dunderdale’s personal support has slid even lower. The Tories are at 27 per cent support and Dunderdale is polling at 21 per cent.

Meanwhile, CBC tracked down Dunderdale herself, who offered up: “I have unequivocal caucus support. … We’re very tight as a party, we spend a lot of time together, talking together, and I’m very comfortable where I am.”

That’s a new one: the only poll that counts is the caucus. Welcome to the denial bunker.

There are other signs that the numbers are a growing frustration.

Dunderdale recently told the St. John’s Board of Trade that the government wasn’t getting the credit it deserved for the work it was doing, a sure sign the Tories are flummoxed about the fact that the public has a different view of their administration than MHAs themselves do.

That kind of statement is a regular refrain from governments at a loss to understand their sliding numbers.

There’s also frustration behind the scenes: to say that the trending polls are making for a nervous political backroom is an understatement.

Insiders have had their own mantra recently: “if there’s one more bad polling period …”

And yet the bad polling periods have kept coming.

That does not seem to be slowing Dunderdale, though.

She pointed out to the CBC that she’s only at the midpoint of her mandate: “But you know, I’ll be judged on my four years, and people will make a choice in the poll that really counts about whether or not they give me another kick at it. And I’m very comfortable with being judged on those four years rather than six months.”

But what else could she really say?

The Tory slide has been a steady downhill run for over a year now; turning those numbers around could take every bit as much time. Or longer. In fact, it may already be too late.

Regardless of her belief in the caucus’ united support, Dunderdale’s own time might be coming — caucus support tends to last only until the numbers are so bad that concerns about self-preservation kick in.

In the meantime, it will be worth watching what happens in the premier’s inner circle. Whatever the premier and her senior staff have been trying to do to address their failing support clearly hasn’t been working.

That usually means some changes will be made, one place or another.

Organizations: CBC, NDP, Board of Trade Tory

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Recent comments

  • Just Sayin
    June 12, 2013 - 15:08

    Was it Mark Twain who said "a lie gets half way around the world before the truth leaves the starting gate" So it was when they hid the truth when Muskrat Falls was sanctioned. Now the truth is catching up, and those that promoted the big lie is slip sliding. Dunderdale thinks the majority will thank her in 2015. For what? For deceiving us... that we would have black outs and be cold in the winter for lack of electricity? That Holyrood would use more and more oil, while in fact it has gone down, from 30 percent of our production to 10.5 percent. Our electricity prices will jump 50 percent, and with no demand on the island for the power, taxes much jump too. Other jurisdictions will be seeing stable electricity prices. Yes , at the rate the truth is unfolding, no doubt we will be all onboard with MY Premier by 2015. MF must be stopped, but even the opposition parties are party to the big lie. So what can save us? Soon MF will be incurring costs of 3 million dollars per day, every day for several years, and then have no market for the power, not even on the island. What a legacy this government will likely leave. And the interest expenses will go on for decades.

  • Cyril Rogers
    June 12, 2013 - 13:50

    If Premier Dunderdale and her cohorts do any further long term damage to the economy, along with the fatal blunder that is Muskrat Falls, the province will never recover. As it stands, we are going to be financially hamstrung for decades with Muskrat Falls. In my opinion, they simply had NO RIGHT to play Russian roulette with the people and the economy of this province by bullying their way into sanctioning of that project. A referendum....with full and complete disclosure of the project and a full review of ALL options...would have been the only way for them to proceed with sanction, in my opinion. Anything less was negligent and should result in severe sanctions on this administration and NALCOR, who were complicit in this decision. Unfortunately, we, the people will be the ones paying for their egregious mistake.

  • It's time
    June 12, 2013 - 10:03

    It doesn't matter what they do or don't do. Governments have a shelf life and this one is near it's expiry date. People get tired and want a change.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    June 12, 2013 - 09:22

    Caucus support? Who would they have to replace her, Marshall, Kennedy, Kent, Lane, Shea, King etc. Now that is truly a scary thought!

  • gord
    June 12, 2013 - 08:05

    They are done. The public is fed up with the lack of transparency with this government. They are not honest and for some reason feel they have the right to boondoggle us on everything and enact legislation to cover their collective ass. In all my years I have never seen such arrogance, and shameless self promotion. They are so convinced of their intellectual superiority over the peasants and really believe they know what is best for us all. I think the public has had enough of the lies and they will turf this government to the curb next election. I hope this is a lesson for the two parties in waiting. The exact same thing will happen to Harper as well. Hope they both hang around to take it on the chin!!

  • Maurice E. Adams
    June 12, 2013 - 07:34

    Why should ratepayers pay $35 billion over 50 years (DG2 numbers), about $45 billion (DG3 numbers), and $65 billion (final cost) for power they 1) do not need, 2) cannot afford, and 3) is too risky?......... Using my money to pay off the debt for an unneeded, dinosaur of a project just don't cut it. .... It is a waste, it is NOT part of a coherent vision and it ensures we (the province) will be in a weak fiscal position when the time comes to deal with Quebec pre-2041..... We will have screwed OURSELVES, once again.

  • Ken Collis
    June 12, 2013 - 06:48

    If she passes legislation that every penny added to government coffers due to Muskrat Falls development, taxes, income taxes, sale of power, etc... will, by law, go towards the debt from the project and that mining companies will pay a full share, then the Tories will get my support. Don't expect me to tighten my belt unless you will do the same. I also don't agree that polls are accurate all the time due to the one that says most folks support the project. I've talked to a lot of people and no one Ihave spoken with supports the project as it stands. If the question in the poll asks do I think we should do it, then I would say yes too, but notunder the terms that are set up now. Ed Martin will set the power rates? How foolish is that?