13 November 2015

Possible Extinction Event #nlpoli

A third poll has confirmed that the provincial Liberals have the support of an overwhelming majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

74% of decided and leaning respondents said they would vote Liberal if an election was held tomorrow.  17% said they would vote Conservative, while only nine percent chose the New Democratic Party.

Asked who they thought would be the best Premier, 36% chose Liberal Dwight Ball, 24% chose Conservative Premier Paul Davis but only six percent chose NDP leader Earle McCurdy.

Asked who they thought would win the election,  82% said Liberals,  six percent said the Conservatives, and only one percent chose the NDP.

That question is significant because research suggests it is more likely to be close to the actual final vote result than the traditional party choice question.

Just to put this in perspective for you, compare the results of this poll and one done by MQO in March.  In the table below we are presenting the original results to the party choice question, without probing the undecideds to see which way they might be leaning.


February 2015

November 2015













Now take a look at a comparison of the decideds plus leaners.


February 2015

November 2015










The Liberals were far ahead last winter.  Now that the election is in front of people’s faces, the Liberals are up 14 points.  The Conservatives are down 11 points and the NDP are down two points.

We really shouldn’t be shocked by any of these numbers.  We have seen numbers every bit as dramatic before.

By way of another comparison,  we are looking at polling results for parties comparable to what we saw in 2007.  NTV’s Michael Connors compared the poll results to Danny Williams but there’s something to notice there.  Williams was running for re-election against a Liberal party that was demoralised and with a leader who had stepped into a job no one else wanted.

In this case, the Conservatives are a party in power and the Liberals have rebuilt over the past two years.  The poll results show the dramatic decline of the Conservatives but more importantly they show just exactly how spectacular has been the rise of the Liberals under Dwight Ball.

The poll results suggest that we may well be looking at a shift in politics as dramatic as the one just seen in the federal election.  What’s more we are looking at a victory for the Liberals that is quite obvious built by attracting voters away from both of the other parties in huge numbers. 

The 1989 election produced an historic shift of votes in metro St. John’s away from the Conservatives to the Liberals.  Well, in this case,  we are looking at results that  put seats in play that have never been Liberal, even in 1989..

To take it a step beyond, if the collapse of NDP and Conservative votes continues through the next two weeks of the election,  even seats like Ferryland and Cape St. Francis could go red.  These are seats that have been Conservative since Confederation.  Ferryland was a bastion of anti-Confederate sentiment. 

Winning all the seats in the province would be Earth-shattering, but frankly, even a Liberal victory taking all but one or two seats would be the sign of a fundamental change in provincial politics for the first time since 1949. 

Not surprisingly, that sort of political shift has promoted a noticeable increase in fear-mongering about the consequences of a Liberal victory. We’ll turn our attention to that on Monday.  In the meantime, though, consider what a massive Liberal victory might do to the NDP and Conservatives.  The idea of a nationalist union party that could produce a single viable alternative to the Liberals doesn;t seem quite so bizarre now, does it?

As a last point, notice the difference between the leader choice numbers and the party choice numbers in this poll.  Dwight Ball is the most popular of the three party leaders but he is running dramatically behind the level of support for his party.

Now think about that bit of popular political lore that holds that Newfoundland politics is all about the strongman leader.  If that was the case, we’d expect the leader popularity to be at or above the party number.  Indeed,  if the leader was the driving factor, the leader and party number would likely be identical.

Well, the fact the two numbers aren’t the same for any party – except maybe the NDP – suggests that leadership and party choice aren’t connected the way the political lore would have it.  The fact that the Liberal party is so far ahead of its leader pretty much tells you that the conventional wisdom about the key role of The Leader is conventional but it isn’t very wise.