21 April 2011

NTV/Telelink poll: close, closer, no cigar and a referendum on Dunderdale #elxn41

NTV/Telelink released results Wednesday of a poll they conducted last in the three seats on the province’s Avalon peninsula.


Margin of Error = +/- 4.8%, 19 times out of 20.

A.    St. John’s East

Incumbent Jack Harris (NDP) leads with 44.9% compared to 16.6% for Conservative Jerry Byrne and 2.9% for Liberal John Allan.  Undecided was 27.8%.  The remainder were Green or wouldn’t give a choice.

B.  St. John’s South-Mount Pearl

Incumbent Liberal Siobhan Coady (26.3%) leads New Democrat Ryan Cleary (23.8%) and Conservative Loyola Sullivan (17.5%).  Undecided was 28.7%.

C.  Avalon

Incumbent Liberal Scott Andrews is at 30.4% with the guy he beat last time – form MP Fabian Manning of the Conservatives at 27.8%.  UND was 32.4%.


No one should be really surprised by any of these results. 

Harris has always been the clear favourite in St. John’s East.  Around these parts, your humble e-scribbler gave Byrne more credit for peeling away some of the old blue voters who went to Harris in 2008 but there should never have been any doubt Harris would win in the end.  These results confirm he should win handily.

That result also likely goes a long way to explaining why Byrne distanced himself from his own leader at a rally today in St. John’s.  Byrne unveiled his own personal platform and made it clear that a vote for him was not a vote for Stephen Harper. That’s an odd thing to do right before your leader comes roaring back into town for a second spin through the province.

In St. John’s South-Mount Pearl,  both your humble e-scribbler and some national projections  - like threehundredeight.blogspot.com – had the race much closer with the Tories closer to the other two than they are in this poll result.  In the seat projection linked at threehundredeight from Wednesday night, the SJSMP result has the NDP at 28%, the Tories at 30-ish and the Liberals at 40%.  That’s based on an amalgam of national polls so you can see how far they can vary from a specific poll done locally.

Coady’s got a highly organised and aggressive campaign.  She’s be calling regularly.  Ditto Sullivan but while Cleary’s team are fired up and seem to doing well, there is little sign of them on the phones and anywhere other than in signs in the district.

Meanwhile, in Avalon, the blood feud is clearly on.  Manning is fighting hard to win back the seat he lost and the closer poll result shows this is a seat to keep an eye on.

But here’s a little thing to pay attention to:  NTV/Telelink asked voters to indicate how satisfied they were with the incumbent.  In all three ridings, the incumbent scored very high satisfaction ratings with Harris’ number being stratospheric.  Coady was in the low 70s and Andrews was in the high 60s.

Now the pollsters apparently didn’t cross-tabulate that with vote intention in their report. Here’s a big hint for news director Fred Hutton or political reporter Michael Connors:  you’ve got some nifty questions there.  It would be very interesting to use the data to its full potential so that viewers can get something a bit more substantial than the mere horse-race results.

Another thing:  the margin of error is big so it is theoretically possible SJSMP is tighter for all three than it seems. As it is, Avalon and SJSMP are close, closer and SJE is simply no cigar.  Harris can head to Florida if he wants and pull a Colbert.

And as a last point, consider the implications of these results for provincial Conservatives and Kathy Dunderdale.  With her endorsement of Stephen Harper at the start, Kathy made this federal election a referendum on her leadership and on the Muskrat Falls project.

There’s no sign that provincial Conservatives are following her lead. 


Full stop. 

End of story.

Dunderdale and her crew decided very openly and obviously to take a completely opposite approach this time to the one they followed in 2008 with Danny Williams at the helm.  Williams was good at his word and at the very least made sure that the provincial Conservatives stayed away from their federal cousins.  The result was devastating for the Conservatives and earned Williams a reputation far beyond what he actually did.

But at least he delivered.

The scale of Kathy Dunderdale’s personal defeat on May 2 will be defined by how many seats the federal Tories don’t win.  As it looks right now, the only hope they have appears to be in Avalon.  Dunderdale’s candidates are losing everywhere else and in two of the ridings on the Avalon peninsula, her candidates are well back in the pack. 

It’s not like the federal Conservatives aren’t playing up Muskrat for her.  It isn’t like her own crew aren’t campaigning.  Steve Kent may have looked pretty grim at Byrne’s rally on Wednesday but he was there for the cameras.  Other provincial Tories may not be turning out as Dunderdale might wish and that’s a further sign of difficulties within the Tory camp provincially and federally.

Stay tuned to the vote on May 2.  More might be at stake than just the federal election in Newfoundland and Labrador.

- srbp -