A St. John’s polling firm caused ripples in the political world Tuesday when it released some polling data that shows the governing PC Party and the NDP in a statistical dead heat.
At a presentation Thursday morning, as part of the Board of Trade business development summit, MQO research said the PCs are rebounding after a bad six months.
According to the poll, the Progressive Conservatives can count on support from 36 per cent of decided voters — one point ahead of the NDP, which has 35 per cent of decided voters’ support.
The Liberals scored 28 per cent support.
Twenty-one per cent of the people surveyed were undecided.
MQO surveyed 336 people between Jan 21-27; the numbers have a margin of error of plus or minus 5.4 per cent.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale is still very much the most popular political leader in the province, though; 46 per cent of decided voters said she’s the best choice for premier.
By contrast, 31 per cent of decided voters said NDP Leader Lorraine Michael would make the best premier, and 23 per cent picked Dwight Ball. Fourteen per cent of the people surveyed were undecided.
More than anything else, the numbers seem to show that political support bounces around a lot in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In MQO’s presentation slides, it seems to indicate that the New Democrats were as much as 10 points above the PCs in the late summer, and things were pretty much the other way around back in April.
The Liberals have consistently placed third.
Rod Budgell, MQO’s chief strategist, said that nobody else is doing monthly polling in Atlantic Canada, and they don’t capture the swings in public support.
“It’s an ebb and flow throughout the year,” he said. “As events occur, there’s a fairly broad number of people who react to information that they hear.”
In particular, it looks like the PC Party was hurt by the Bill 29 legislation which restricted public access to government information, and vastly increased the types of documents the government can withhold from public scrutiny.
In the months following the Bill 29 filibuster in June, the PCs were consistently below the NDP in levels of public support.
Corporate Research Associates, the other polling firm that does regular surveys in Atlantic Canada, has consistently reported results that show the PCs with the largest share of public support for the past several years.
A one-time poll by Environics early last summer showed the NDP three percentage points above the PCs in public support.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale was not in the province Thursday,
and could not be reached for comment.
Michael said she doesn’t spend much time thinking about polls.
“Polls do not dictate how we strategize. Polls do not dictate what we work on,” she said. “People are continuing to show that they like what we are doing and saying, so it’s encouraging to make sure that we just stay on the path and keep working hard.”
No one with the Liberal Party was available to speak to The Telegram, but in a news release, Ball said it’s clear that the PC
Party no longer has a majority of public support in the same way it did when it won a majority government in the 2011 provincial election.
“Based on today’s poll numbers from MQO Research, it’s evident the PC government has lost its majority,” Ball said.
He also drew solace from the fact that the Liberals are doing a lot better in rural parts of the province. Outside St. John’s, the Liberals command 34 per cent of decided voters, compared to 37 per cent for the PCs and 28 per cent for the NDP.