Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wall, Dunderdale book-end the premiers table again

Angus-Reid released its ratings of Canada's premiers (with the exception of Prince Edward Island) this morning, showing that once again Brad Wall of Saskatchewan remains, by far, the most popular premier in Canada. Though his numbers are impressive, they could be a lot worse and he would still be near the top. The poll suggests that most Canadians disapprove of their premiers, with only two of the nine boasting disapproval ratings lower than 50%.

Wall's approval rating was virtually unchanged from Angus-Reid's last report in September. It stands at 66% with just 27% disapproval.

Second on the list is newcomer Stephen McNeil of Nova Scotia. As this poll was conducted at the beginning of December, McNeil had only been on the job for two months. Coming off a landslide victory, his 57% approval rating is not much of a surprise. That represents a gain of six points over his last rating as opposition leader, with the gain coming primarily from undecideds (dropping to 14% from 20%).

Only Wall and McNeil could be considered popular premiers. Their approval ratings are high and their disapproval ratings are low. If an election were held today, both would easily win a majority government.

There are two other premiers with approval ratings that put them in a position to win re-election, though neither could be considered popular. The first is Christy Clark of British Columbia, who managed an approval rating of 42%. Her disapproval rating, however, stands at 51%. This has not changed much from where it was in September, but her approval rating has dropped in two consecutive polls since June.

The other premier with an approval rating high enough to have good reason to hope for re-election is Kathleen Wynne of Ontario. That rating sits at 35%, with her disapproval at 50%. Excluding the undecideds, that gives her an approval rating of 41% among decided respondents, enough to win an election. But momentum is going in the wrong direction for her. Her approval rating is down four points from September and eight points from May. Her disapproval rating has increased by 13 points since March.

The next tier of premiers are those are are competitive but still at risk. Topping that list is Pauline Marois of Quebec, with an approval rating of 32%. That is down seven points since September, but higher than where it was in June. Her disapproval rating increased by six points to 62%, but with an approval rating of 34% among decideds she stands a shot at re-election.

That would be harder for Alison Redford of Alberta and David Alward of New Brunswick. Redford's approval rating dropped three points to 31%, while her disapproval rating was up six points to 63%. Alward also managed 31% approval, though that was a gain of four points. His disapproval rating was virtually unchanged at 57%.

The last tier of premiers are those who are in deep trouble. The first is Greg Selinger of Manitoba, with an approval rating of just 28% and a disapproval rating of 62%. Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador scores at the bottom of the list with an approval rating of only 24% and a disapproval rating of 69%, the worst in the country. Though her approval rating has increased by four points since September, her numbers are still worse than they were in June.

Unfortunately, Angus-Reid did not release any numbers for opposition or third-party leaders, as they have done in the past. I have asked whether this information could be made available, and will post here if it emerges. Update: Angus-Reid did not ask for anything but the premiers' approval ratings, so nothing for the opposition leaders will be forthcoming. This is another indication that the firm is moving away from free political poll releases.

When taking into account the premiers' net ratings (approval minus disapproval), the order of the leaders does not change drastically. Alward, with a relatively higher undecided proportion, jumps ahead of Marois and Redford to place fifth instead of eighth.

But only Wall and McNeil have positive ratings: +39 for Wall and +29 for McNeil. That is a drop of four points for Wall but an increase of eight for McNeil since September.

Three other premiers improved their net ratings since September. Both Alward and Dunderdale improved theirs by five points while Selinger's ticked upwards by one. But in all three cases, these may simply be bounce-backs from particularly low numbers.

Clark's net rating has worsened by four points, but she remains third on the list of overall net approval. Redford's score has worsened by nine points, while Wynne and Marois have seen theirs tumble by 10 and 13 points, respectively.

Overall, the Canadians' opinions of their premiers has worsened. Disapproval ratings increased by an average of 1.8 points in the nine provinces polled, while approval ratings dropped by an average of 0.2 points. For the three premiers likely to face the electorate in 2014 (Alward, Wynne, and Marois) that could be very bad news.