27 June 2015

The not-so-rare leap: @abacusdata June 2015 #nlpoli

Two different polls from two different pollsters using two different polling methods have shown basically the same thing:  the New Democrats and Conservatives are duking it out for second place, both of whom remain well behind the Liberals who hold a massive lead in provincial politics.

Corporate Research Associates (May) showed the Conservatives still slightly ahead of the New Democrats.  Abacus Data’s most recent poll for VOCM shows the New Democrats slightly ahead.

Abacus’  David Coletto described the NDP  jump as “rare”, but that’s not really the case.

We’ve seen two similar jumps within the last four years.  MQO tracked a massive jump in support for the New Democrats in 2012, in the immediate aftermath of Bill 29. 

Just by looking at the scale the NDP shift was about the size of the one Abacus just saw over a comparable time span and – incidentally – that CRA picked up as well.

CRA showed a massive jump for the provincial Liberals over two quarters in 2013.

Look at Abacus’ own numbers and what you see is a 13 point increase for the NDP, chiefly at the expense of the Conservatives (down nine points).  The Liberals lipped three points.  Incidentally, that’s the numbers as a share of all respondents, not with CRA style torque of showing decideds only.

If you want to get some real horsepower out of the Abacus data, take a look at the regional party choice intentions breakdown.  The change there is quite striking from March 2015.  Look at this and you’ll see where the changes have taken place.  You’ll also be able to answer question like why NDP leader Earle McCurdy isn;t running in a rural seat.

St. John’s/ Avalon

Party Mar 2015 June 2015
PC 39 24
LIB 53 42
NDP 8 33

The NDP grew in 2011 at the expense of the provincial Conservatives in their traditional bedrock seats in metro St. John’s.

Well, consider the walls of the Tory castle invested and the barbarians are swarming over everything.   The Dippers are up 25 points.  The Tories contributed15 points of that and the Liberals tossed on  the rest.

What you are seeing there, more than anything is else is the result of the mythical Tory “:austerity” budget and the entirely theoretical layoffs to provincial public servants. They are getting hammered not for their actual cuts but for the Tory claims they were cutting.  Right behind that would be the Dunphy shooting and the government’s poor handling of the tragedy.

For the Liberals, the drop is due to Dwight Ball.  Period.  Full stop.  End of story.,  Six months of gaffes, cock-ups, and assorted other fumbles committed solely by Ball himself undermined party support in a vote-rich region.  They are all Ball’s responsibility.  Ball’s insistence on siding with the Conservatives at every opportunity was obviously stupid.  Here’s the proof.

The beneficiary of the Tory and Grit misfortune was the Dippers.  How that translates in specific seats remains to be seen but we can venture a few guesses:

  • We can put Gerry Rogers in a safe NDP seat in St. John’s Centre
  • St. John’s West will be a fight between Liberal Siobhan Coady and NDP boss Earle McCurdy. Coady’s been working hard and she’s well organized.  McCurdy’s political street cred remains to be seen.  Conservative cabinet minister Dan Crummell will not be a factor.
  • St. John’s East – Paul Antle looms large in the eyes of people who haven’t been watching politics closely.  Those who have been paying attention will put Antle firmly in second place in this seat. He’ll have to work very hard to catch the NDP.  The LEAP-frogging bullshit won’t substitute for the hard work he needs to be doing on the ground in the district but isn’t right at the moment. 
  • Lorraine Michael picked because St. John’s East because it gives her the very best chance of keeping her own seat.  She threw George Murphy under the political bus because she’s really that kind of cold, calculating politician. Like Lorraine’s final speech in the House of Assembly, it’s really all about her.  If some Dippers don’t like those comments, they should stop being so naive.
  • In other metro seats,  the Liberal incumbents should remain strong. They’ll just have their work cut out for them. Much will ride on the party messaging for the next six months.  The rest will be decided by how the Liberals and the NDP go after the potential votes as support for the Conservatives collapses in metro.
  • On the Conservative side, expect that stalwarts like Danny Breen will be dropping any thoughts of running again.  The Townie Tories will have to look hard at whether or not they want to join the Liberals to stop the Dippers or throw in their lot with Earle and Lorraine.
  • That’s not a cut-and-dried issue, despite the NDP rhetoric about Liberals and Tories being the same.  In 2012,  the Blue people went Orange provincially, even if it was only temporarily and federally, the west end of St. John’s moved from Blue to Orange and has stayed there..
  • Take Dipper Union honcho Lana Payne as a good example.  She loved Danny Williams and the Conservatives after 2003 and remains a firm supporter of their policies, including the Muskrat Falls tax increase/subsidy to private business. 


Party Mar 2015 June 2015
PC 42 23
LIB 46 68
NDP 8 9

Tory collapse.

NDP stalled.

Liberals massive jump.

This is why Earle McCurdy isn’t running in a rural seat despite his chatter during the re-districting about the harm done to rural Newfoundland by the seat cuts.

These kind of numbers threaten the Tories in seats like Ferryland.  That hasn’t been Liberal since the 1950s.


Susan Sullivan is sick.  Don’t count on her offering as a candidate again, given that Tory support  in the region is now in the teens.  They are tied with the Dippers, give or take a point, and the Liberals are 40-0dd points ahead.


The Tories used to own the west coast of the island.  These days,  they are pulling 15% of decided voters.  The Dippers at at 20, up from 12 and the Liberals are at 65 down from 74. 

Overall, these numbers suggest that outside metro, the island would be a solid red colour from one end to the other after the next election.


Labrador is the other place where the  NDP have come on stronger in the past couple of months. That seems to be focused in Lab West and is likely tied to stress in the region over cuts in the mining industry.

Liberals have gone from 60 to 54.  Tories are down from 22 to 18 and the NDP are at 26, up from 18.

Based on those Numbers, the Liberals look good for three of the four seats.  If someone took a close look at Lab West,  the Liberals would probably be ahead there as well.


The NDP gained in 2011 entirely at the expense of the Conservatives.  They are poised to feast off the remains of Danny Williams’ party in metro again. 

Everywhere else on the island, the NDP are as scarce as hen’s teeth. They’ve done nothing to capitalise on the Tory collapse and it shows.  In Labrador, the NDP surge is highly localised.

Looking at the polling from a national perspective,  pollsters are likely to miss the highly localised reasons for changes in party numbers.  They give too much credence to the federal NDP although,  in a superficial way,  name recognition and apparent popularity does have a certain impact on party choice numbers in a poll.  That might explain the 30,000 foot perspective to a certain degree but to really understand what is going on, you’ve got to drill down.  If the pollsters aren’t doing that – and they don;t seem to be – then you can apply some other knowledge to come up with a more plausible explanation.