30 June 2015

Forget that Orange Wave Thing #nlpoli

Two-thirds of respondents to the most recent Abacus-VOCM News poll said they believed the Liberal Party will win the next provincial general election.

That’s an important question because recent American research suggests it is a good indication of the actual vote result than the traditional “which party will you vote for?” question.

There’s another reason why this question is important.  Look at the contrast between NDP and Conservative supporters.  More than half of New Democratic supporters think the Liberals will win. 

Only  28% of Dippers think their own party will win the next election.   A majority of provincial Conservatives think the Tories will win. But get this:  37% of Tories think the Grits will come out on top.

People who think there is some kind of NDP wave about sweep the universe can think again.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents to the Abacus poll disagreed with the statement that the NDP is ready to government, with 31% of them strongly disagreeing. By contrast,  63% of respondents though the Liberals were ready to govern.

Roughly comparable numbers of respondents thought that both the Liberals and the New Democrats understood the problems facing the province and would look “after the interests of people like me”.   Those are good news for the NDP:  the problem is that people don’t think they’re ready to run the place.

You can see the same thing in the results for the question asking which party people felt would best look after the major issues.

  • Economy is the top issue.  35% picked the Liberals as best to deal with this, compared to 23% for the Conservatives and in fourth place  with 13% (!!!) come the NDP.  “Don’t Know” came in third at 19%
  • Health care is the number two issue and the Grits are again the party on top at 36%.  Dippers are second here at 21% and the Tories are at 15%.
  • Deficit is the third biggest issue.  Grits are the top choice to handle it for 39% of respondents.  ‘Don’t Know” came in second at 23 with the Conservatives at 20 and the NDP at 11%

You get the picture.  The NDP don’t own any of the big issues in the public estimation.  They come a distant second only on health care and on two of the three big issues more people don’t know which party to pick than than would pick the NDP to do the best job.

A political party with those kinds of results is not about to form a secret government in complete surprise on election night.  There’d have to be some truly radical moves to put the Orange team in office.

Have a gander at the party choice numbers, broken down by age and sex of respondent.  Liberals average 53%, with a range of from 52% to a high of 55% in some categories.  The NDP and Conservatives are way back.  Take a look at the 18-39 year old category.  It’s the one place where the NDP do relatively well, with 29% compared to the Conservatives 18%.

Two things to note:

First, younger people tend not to vote.  Having a healthy number in this category doesn’t do much if the people in the group tend not to vote.  Any election strategy based on young people has to work twice as hard to get less result than the competitors.  It’s just not cost-efficient.

Aside:  note that the Tories are the lowest in this category.  So much for Steve Kent’s flashy but completely vacuous plan to get young people made-up jobs on municipal councils. 

Second thing:  look to the other age categories,  capturing the over 40s.  These people tend to vote with the 60+ category more likely to vote than any.  The Liberals own this territory by a wide margin.  They are more than two-to-one over either of the others.  Note that Tory strength increases among older voters.  The NDP by contrast goes down.

And what is driving all this?

Well, it ain’t the leader as much as the Liberals keep wanting to sell Dwight Ball as the magic man like Old Twitchy.  Something about Ball fundamentally appeals to people.  After all, the party is doing well and he is seen as the best leader. He’s got few negatives and lots more positives.

Note, though, that he is not significantly ahead of Earle McCurdy and both McCurdy and Ball share similar voter profiles.  More people like them than dislike them by a wide margin:  44/16 for Ball and 36/19 for McCurdy.  About the same number of people have a neutral response to them – 33 to 34%.

That’s so different from Paul Davis who is both liked and disliked by as many people as have no opinion.  This is a guy who can;t even get people to feel strongly about him one way or the other.

As a last point, note the question on change.  Fully 80% of respondents either firmly want a change (59%)  or think a change is a good idea (21%).  Only 20% support some variation on the status quo.

Some readers might look at another question and scratch their heads.  Satisfaction with the direction the province is headed is up to 53% from 39% in March,  That doesn’t seem to fit with the “change” message but it does make sense if you go back and look at the March poll results.  Voters clearly wanted a change of party but not a fundamental change of direction for the province.

That’s exactly what the Liberals have been presenting.  As much as the media and their pundits have been trashing the Liberals’ message of being the same as the Tories but different,  that’s exactly what voters are looking for.  They think the province is in good shape but want someone other than the Conservatives to run the place.  The Liberals are offering them exactly that result.