Local pollster MQO released some previously confidential polling data on Thursday that showed the ruling Conservatives were getting about 25% of public support in July and August and only slightly better than that until November.
The Tories got a bump up in December to about 35%, likely from the Muskrat Falls announcement.
But that vanished the next month. Current Tory support is around 30% of all respondents.
The table below is one of the slides an MQO official used during a presentation to the Board of Trade. For some inexplicable reason, the company included a separate set of numbers that distorted the results for the province’s three parties by excluding valid responses such as “undecided”. The table below includes those valid responses and shows the results for each of the parties as a share of all responses.
The orange line is the NDP result. It shows the NDP peaked at close to 45% in August and September and has been trailing downward. The NDP are now at about 25%, slightly ahead of the Liberals.
The Grits - the red line - bottomed out in 2012 at about 12% in September. They are now at slightly less than 25%. That’s a pretty significant change, with the single biggest jump coming between December and January.
The Undecided response has been running between 20% and 25% of respondents for pretty much the whole period covered in the chart.
If you put these numbers through a vote-a-tron – see labradore’s post - and try to project a seat count, you come up with something that would have every Tory in the province crapping diamonds.
Even allowing for some adjustments for the actual campaign, the Tories would hang onto a very small minority of 18 or 19 seats, with the NDP a seat or two behind at 17. The Liberals would be tight up behind them both in a very strong third place with 12 to 14 seats.
As labradore notes in his post, the NDP and Liberals would pick up from the Tories without touching each other. In metro, the NDP would clean house, leaving only St. John’s North and a couple of other seats.
Labrador would split evenly between the two opposition parties the Liberals would pick up across rural Newfoundland west of Gander. The NDP would pick up a couple of seats on the rural Avalon and on the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas.
That interpretation is borne out by the MQO poll’s regional breakdown for party support and leader support. Note that while these numbers exclude “undecideds”, what we are looking at here is the general position.
Look at the regional breakdowns for P1, right at the top of that picture. Liberals are stronger in rural and in metro and run within about three percentage points of the Tories. The NDP are stronger in metro and rural and compared to the Tories they are significantly farther ahead. The Tories’ support is equal in both regions.
In other words, the Tories would fight a two-front war in an election fought with these sorts of numbers. In the usual base of support they’d be fighting to hang on against a much stronger NDP. In rural they’d be fighting against strong support for the Liberal party.
While some might point to Kathy Dunderdale’s personal support as a potential counterweight to the weaker Tory party support, don’t bet on it. She’s not an asset in metro St. John’s where the leader support mirrors the party support.
Take that a step farther and look at the broader polling questions from CRA or MQO on public perceptions of the economy or government performance. People like things as they are. They feel positive generally, even if, as MQO notes, their top two issues are Muskrat Falls and looming budget problems and government cutbacks.
Yet that warm fuzzy feeling of economic contentment overall clearly does not translate into support for the party in power at the moment.
What happens next will depend very heavily on how the politically weak governing Tories handle their financial problems.