Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/11/2014 (989 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A majority of Manitobans believe Premier Greg Selinger should resign, a new poll conducted exclusively for the Winnipeg Free Press says.
The survey, conducted by Toronto-based Mainstreet Technologies, also found the NDP faces being wiped out next election.
The poll was conducted Monday night, just hours after the resignations of cabinet ministers Jennifer Howard, Stan Struthers, Theresa Oswald, Erin Selby and Andrew Swan over Selinger’s leadership, and his own swift response in replacing them.
"It’s very clear the NDP is in a very tough situation right now," Mainstreet spokesman David Valentin said. "The NDP could be decimated at this point. It’s not a very pretty picture."
How ugly is that picture? The poll found that among decided voters in Winnipeg, Opposition Leader Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservatives are at 46 per cent support, the NDP at 30 per cent and the Liberals at 24 per cent. The survey’s margin of error for Winnipeg alone is 3.1 per cent.
And with 45 per cent of undecided voters agreeing that Selinger should step down, there’s little room for the NDP to recover before Manitobans are set to go back the ballot box, expected April 19, 2016, Valentin said.
"Undecided voters by and large have said they’re not interested in Premier Selinger staying on," he said. "That’s not a good place for the NDP to be in."
Political history suggests that when NDP fortunes fall and the Liberals rise, the New Democrats face a political graveyard, he added.
For the NDP to do well in a provincial election it needs to receive about 50 per cent of the vote in Winnipeg, where it has polled well in recent times.
Valentin said when support for the New Democrats falls below 30 per cent in the city, the NDP face the prospect of losing once-considered safe seats in Winnipeg to the PCs because not only do the Liberals siphon off votes from the NDP, NDP supporters stay at home.
"To be in that competitive space with the third-place party in the capital is terrible for the NDP," he said. "The way that the vote splits, the first past the post takes it all. I don’t know how it could get any worse for them at this point."
Traditionally, many disgruntled NDP voters "park" their support with the Liberals when questioned by pollsters.
How bad is bad?
The drop in support for the NDP did not come with the recent furor within Selinger’s own caucus for him to step down.
Mainstreet’s survey confirms polls done by Winnipeg’s Probe Research and national pollster Angus Reid have documented the NDP’s tailspin in quarterly reports for the past two years. On the eve of the 2011 election, Selinger enjoyed an approval rating of 52 per cent, but is now hovering at 30 per cent to become one of the least popular premiers in the country.
"That didn’t happen overnight," Valentin said. "It takes quite a bit of work. You have to work to get numbers this bad."
A combination of poorly handled government decisions, such as last year’s increase to the PST, and the ascension of Pallister to lead the Tories, led to that drop in popularity. The recent public revolt against Selinger by the five ministers, and at least one NDP MLA, likely speeds up that downward spiral, he said.
"With these numbers, if there was an election I wouldn’t be surprised if the premier lost his own seat," Valentin said.
Mainstreet Technologies contacted 2,019 Manitobans Oct. 30 by interactive voice response. The province-wide results are considered accurate within a margin of error of +/- 2.18 percentage points 19 times of out 20. Mainstreet Technologies is a Toronto-based political services and polling firm.
Would throwing the premier overboard now, or him agreeing to walk the plank, help the NDP recover in time for the next election?
Valentin said that’s difficult to measure at this point because voters do not have an identified person to replace Selinger.
The survey found NDP numbers would only slightly improve without Selinger, rising to 25 per cent from 20 per cent.
Ideally, for NDP fortunes to rebound in Manitoba, it needs a repeat of what happened in the recent Ontario election. Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne inherited an unpopular government under Dalton McGuinty, but was able to win thanks in part to the fumbling performance of Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.
"There’s no reason the NDP can’t find someone, put on a new coat of paint and survive," Valentin said. "Certainly, they can do better than with the leader they have now."
The poll paints a grim picture for the NDP if Selinger stays.
"Thirty per cent of the vote in Winnipeg is terrible," an NDP insider said Tuesday of Mainstreet’s poll results.
With such rock-bottom support, the party would hang onto only a handful of seats in the city core and perhaps a few in northwest Winnipeg, such as Tyndall Park, the Maples and Kildonan, one NDP insider said.
The NDP gained power in 1999 by making inroads in suburban Winnipeg areas and followed that up in subsequent elections with gains in south Winnipeg where they took seats away from the PCs. At 30 per cent support in the city, all those historic gains fall by the wayside.
Lost would be such seats as Seine River (Oswald), Southdale (Selby), Kirkfield Park (Sharon Blady), St. Norbert (Dave Gaudreau) Fort Richmond (Kerri Irvin-Ross), St. James (Deanne Crothers), St. Vital (Nancy Allan) and perhaps Rossmere (Erna Braun), the insider said.
"We could lose St. Boniface (Selinger’s seat) with those numbers," the party insider said, noting the NDP gained that riding — with Greg Selinger as its candidate — when it came to power under Gary Doer.
Mainstreet’s poll also reaffirms the results of the party’s own internal polling, sources say. Caucus members were recently warned that the NDP was faring poorly in much of Winnipeg, which in part lead to the revolt.
The magnitude of the NDP losses would largely hang on whether support for the Liberals holds up, which in part depends on Leader Rana Bokhari’s ability to build a credible profile and attract decent candidates.