Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Polls offer widely differing views of frontrunners' standings

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A PAIR of polls, the first of the campaign, were released Monday. They only made the campaign more confusing.

-- A poll by CJOB and the Manitoba Real Estate Association puts the NDP well ahead of the Tories, especially in battleground Winnipeg.

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According to the radio station, 41 per cent of decided voters will choose the NDP, while only 32 per cent will cast a ballot for the Progressive Conservatives. The Liberals have only five per cent support.

In Winnipeg, where the Conservatives must pick up several seats to form a government, the gap is even wider. The NDP has the support of 46 per cent of decided voters in Winnipeg while the Conservatives have the support of only 25 per cent.

The poll was conducted by Viewpoints Research, a polling firm co-owned by Ginny Devine, the wife of former NDP premier Gary Doer. The company traditionally does most of the provincial NDP's internal polling.

The poll also surveyed a relatively small sample size of 579 Manitobans. They were contacted by phone between Sept. 14 and 21. CJOB says the poll is accurate plus or minus four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Nineteen per cent of those polled said they were undecided or refused to answer.

Liberal spokesman David Shorr said the poll dramatically underestimates his party's strength, especially in target ridings such as Fort Rouge and Tyndall Park. He said his party's voter identification numbers are significantly better than the CJOB poll suggests.

The provincial Conservatives dismissed the poll as flawed.

"This poll is at odds with what our internal tracking numbers show," said Michael Richards, the party's president. "It's a very small sample size. Only 579 calls, only 363 within the city of Winnipeg, and some of the data is almost two weeks old."

The Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile, make 1,200 calls a night heavily targeting "the 10 to 15 seats that are going to determine the outcome" of the election, Richards said.

While he wasn't going to share the Tory internal polling numbers, Richards said they provide "a very different picture." And he said the PCs are also "very, very encouraged" by what their own private numbers suggest.


-- An online poll done for The Canadian Press suggests the Tories have a slight lead over the NDP.

Forty-five per cent of decided respondents backed the Progressive Conservatives while 42 per cent supported the New Democrats. Only 10 per cent supported the Liberals.

The online poll was conducted by Environics Research Group and provided exclusively to The Canadian Press.

When asked who would make the best premier, 33 per cent of respondents chose NDP Leader Greg Selinger, while 29 per cent backed the Tories' Hugh McFadyen.

Unlike a traditional telephone poll, in which respondents are randomly selected, the Environics survey was conducted online over the last six days among 1,000 respondents. The respondents were chosen from a larger pool of people who were recruited and compensated for participating.

The non-random nature of online polling makes it impossible to determine the statistical accuracy of how the poll reflects the opinions of the general population.


-- Source: CJOB and The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 27, 2011 A6

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