Hugh McFadyen is the new Gary Filmon -- at least in terms of the latest poll numbers of Manitoba voters.
Continuing a trend that has been going on since former premier Gary Doer left to become Canada's U.S. ambassador, the Progressive Conservatives under leader McFadyen now have the support of 47 per cent of decided voters, up five per cent since December -- and a full 12 per cent in front of the Selinger government.
It's the highest support the Tories have polled since 1998, a year before the Filmon government went to the polls and were voted out of office.
As well, the poll, conducted exclusively by Probe Research Inc. for the Winnipeg Free Press, shows Tory support is the most solid of all three provincial parties, with six in 10, or 60 per cent, of their supporters saying they are "very likely" to cast their ballot for the party in the Oct. 4 provincial election.
That compares to 49 per cent of NDP supporters and 24 per cent of Liberal voters.
Probe president Scott MacKay said the other interesting number in the poll is a full two-thirds of Manitobans believe the province is heading in the right direction as opposed to 21 per cent who say its going down the wrong path.
"If the general view is the province is on the right path, then why is this government losing support every day?" said MacKay on Friday.
"We figure it's about something else and that is probably about fatigue. Gary Doer is gone and after a decade it is time to switch it up."
MacKay said in battleground Winnipeg, where the NDP currently holds 26 of the 31 seats, the two parties are almost statistically deadlocked in the polls.
The NDP support with decided voters is at 42 per cent while the PC support is at 37 per cent. The Liberals are at 16 per cent.
It's no contest outside the city with 62 per cent Tory support, up from 54 per cent in December, while the NDP is at 24 per cent, down five per cent. The Liberals are at 11 per cent.
Other findings include:
-- Support for the Tories goes across all age groups with the support of 49 per cent of people aged 55 and over, 48 per cent of people aged 35 to 54, and 44 per cent of people aged 18 to 34.
-- Women are now more likely to vote for the Tories at 41 per cent versus the NDP at 37 per cent, while 53 per cent of men support the Tories compared to 32 per cent for the NDP.
-- University and college graduates split their support at 41 per cent for the PC and 40 per cent for the NDP.
The poll was conducted province-wide through random telephone interviews of 1,000 Manitoba adults between March 9 and 23.
The poll results are accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 per cent with 95 per cent certainty of what it would be if every adult in the province had been surveyed.