Thursday, February 17, 2011

Provincial and federal Tories lead in Newfoundland & Labrador

No, I will not make a joke about screech in this blog post. But what I will do is take a look at two new polls released by NTV for Newfoundland & Labrador, as well as a by-election which took place Tuesday.

It's not often that we are blessed with a federal poll conducted for just one of the Atlantic provinces. And with the power of the ABC campaign transforming the political landscape in 2008, Newfoundland & Labrador stands to be one of the more interesting provinces to watch if a federal election takes place this year. Will the Conservatives continue to be shut out from the island, or will they make a comeback?

The new poll conducted by Telelink for NTV indicates that the federal Conservatives are back in full force in Newfoundland & Labrador. Or does it?We have no previous Telelink poll to compare these results to, so we shall compare them to the 2008 federal election.

In the NTV report, the intentions of decided voters and decided/leaning voters were reported without a distribution of the undecideds, contrary to common practice. But after removing the non-leaning undecideds from the equation (they number 27.9%, relatively high but not extraordinarily high) we get 51% for the Conservatives, 34% for the Liberals, 13% for the New Democrats, and 3% for the Greens/Others.

That represents a gain of 34 points for the Tories and losses of 13 and 22 points for the Liberals and New Democrats. Seems like a sea change indeed.

That the Conservatives are in the race again is shown by the fact that 32.1% of Newfoundland & Labradorians are decided Tory supporters.

But hold the phone - Telelink? As far as I can tell, they are not a proper public opinion research firm. They are a call centre, with public opinion surveys being one of things they do. You can also outsource your customer service to them.

That isn't to say that their results aren't reliable. Apparently, in the 2007 election they were more accurate than the Corporate Research Associates, the one active polling firm in Atlantic Canada.

However, there is a bit of a problem with this poll. I made some inquiries, and apparently the provincial voting intentions question was asked before the federal voting intentions question. That is a bit of a problem, particularly in a province like Newfoundland & Labrador which has a very different provincial political scene. As the vast majority of decided respondents said they were going to vote Progressive Conservative at the provincial level, if the very next question is how they intend to vote at the federal level there is a much higher probability that they would also respond Conservative. So take these results with a large grain of sea salt.

But leaving that aside, if accurate this poll changes things in Newfoundland & Labrador. Traditionally, with the exception of a close race in 2006, the province has always voted Liberal. The party hasn't been below 40% since 1984 when Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives swept the country.

With these polling results and using a proportional swing method of seat projection, the Conservatives would win four seats and the Liberals three. However, I'm currently looking in-depth at the issue of incumbency, and based on my preliminary findings I would project that the Liberals would retain St. John's South - Mount Pearl and the New Democrats would keep St. John's East. That pushes the Conservative seat projection to two: Avalon and Random - Burin - St. George's, while the Liberals would also win Bonavista - Gander - Grand Falls - Windsor, Humber - St. Barbe - Baie Verte, and Labrador.

Provincially, there has been very little change in voting intentions since the 2007 election.The Progressive Conservatives lead with 70% (unchanged), the Liberals follow with 23% (+1), and the New Democrats bring up the rear with 6% (-2).

If we compare that to the Corporate Research Associates' November poll, that is a five point loss for the Tories, a two point loss for the NDP, and a seven point gain for the Liberals.

With this result I would project 43 seats for the Progressive Conservatives, four seats for the Liberals, and one for the New Democrats. It's virtually the same result as in 2007, but with one seat gain by the Liberals.

The new premier, Kathy Dunderdale, is the favourite leader at 65.1%, or 79% of decided respondents. Yvonne Jones is next with 11.5% (14%), while Lorraine Michael of the NDP is at 4.2% (5%). Mrs. Dunderdale has, so far, managed to keep up with the dominant numbers Danny Williams had enjoyed before his resignation.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday there was a provincial by-election in Humber West (part of Corner Brook) to replace the former premier. The result came as no surprise, but indicates that the Liberals should be competitive in this fall's general election.Progressive Conservative Vaughn Granter won the by-election with 63.6% of the vote. Mark Watton of the Liberals placed second with 33.1%, while Rosie Myers of the NDP finished with 3.4%.

That represents a significant drop in support from the 2007 election when Danny Williams received 87.9% of the vote (there was no NDP candidate). But it is almost the same result as in the 2003 election, when Mr. Williams was leading his first general election campaign.

There's not too much to read into this by-election result, except that the departure of Danny Williams has, perhaps, opened a door for the Liberals to make some small gains. He also seems to have given the federal Conservatives a new lease on life. An attention-grabber while in power, even gone the former premier still makes his province one to watch.


  1. I'm surprised you project a win for the Conservatives in Random - Burin - St. George's, it's only gone conservative a couple of times since confederation, however this is a big number for the CPC so anything could happen.

    I think, as well as others I've talked to, that the only ridings the CPC has a chance at are St. John's South-Mount Pearl and Avalon. Loyola Sullivan is 90% sure he's running in SJSMP and I doubt Siobhan Coady will be able to win against him.

    NTV also noted that the poll was also conducted during the Prime Minister's visit to NL last week, the first day of polling was the day he was here to unveil the new Marine Atlantic ferry and meet with Kathy Dundedale. So that may have played a role in his number being high.

    The provincial results are excellent news for Premier Dunderdale. The only difference from the 2007 election results is that the Liberals have gained a point and the NDP has lost one.

    Her personal numbers probably make her the most popular premier in the country, or just behind Brad Wall. Hopefully they keep up!

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  3. Looks like the rift between the federal CPC and the provincial PCs is fully healed.

    There's a rush of star candidates, including former Williams cabinet ministers, looking to make the jump to federal politics.

    It wouldn't surprise me if Williams himself ran for the CPC. A lot of his legacy projects will require federal funding.

    There's still work to be done, don't be surprised if he's drafted.

    Going back to 2006, the last election pre-ABC, it looks as if the CPC has a decent shot at winning in 4 to 6 ridings.

  4. There's still a rift there, the CPC have tried to recruit current MHAs with know luck. The relationship at the moment is better though.

    There is absolutly no way Williams would ever run just to be a Minister, especially under Harper

  5. PT the Tories haven't organized any nomination contests in Newfoundland yet.

    And people are coming to the party, not the other way around.

    CBC had a story up with just a few of the people who are interested a little while back.

    Williams cabinet minister John Ottenheimer.

    The brother of late Williams cabinet minister Jerry Byrne.

    As well as Beth Crosbie.

    As for Williams himself, Harper said in an interview he would love a star candidate from Newfoundland like that.

    People didn't think Julian Fantino, who's in his 70's, would make the jump to Ottawa either.

    Politicians get bored of retirement really quickly.

  6. Beth Crosbie is not running and Jerry Byrne is a little nuts (but I won't get into that) and wouldn't beat Jack Harris. Nominations for the CPC in St. John's East close next week. John Ottenheimer isn't running because Fabian Manning will.

    The best candidate the CPC will have in Newfoundland and Labrador is Loyola Sullivan. I don't think the party will have an easy time recruiting a lot of high-profile candidates because they know that only one will get into cabinet.

    Danny Williams has said on numourous occasions, the last time was when he was leaving office, that he was not a Harper Conservative. He's also said there's no way he'll be entering federal politics. He's able to make millions of more dollars now and travel the world there's no way he's going to be a cabinet minister under Harper, especially after being asked to lead the party.

  7. Actually if you go back to the remarks Williams made he was very careful NOT to rule out a federal run.

    What makes you so certain Fabian Manning will run ?

    The senate is a really nice gig, better than being a back bench MP imo. Plus it has all kinds of perks, which might have something to do with the expenses Manning has been racking up.

  8. newfoundlanders are no doubt greatful for the work that the conservatives have done to save the seal industry...opening up a huge market with china....

  9. Supposedly Fabian was appointed under the condition he resigned to run. He has also gone to the place where he got his signs to see if they were still on file.


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