What do we make of the most recent Free Press/Probe poll on provincial party popular support?
It’s the latest survey that shows Hugh McFadyen’s PCs climbing ahead of the NDP. Pollster Angus Reid has said the same thing.
Sure, it all sounds like good news for Hugh.
But the fact is he’s seen this before. In 2006, before the last provincial election in May 2007, he saw the same kind of poll results and same kind of headlines.
Those polls found the PCs gaining on the NDP in popular supports as issues like Crocus dominated the legislature.
Case in point: A July 6, 2006 Free Press article by Dan Lett on a Probe poll reported that the Manitoba Progressive Conservative party had surged ahead of the ruling NDP for the first time since it lost power in 1999.
That poll, a survey of 1,000 adults taken June 14-30 that year, showed the Tories under McFadyen, then a newcomer, had the support of 43 per cent of respondents. The NDP registered the support of 38 per cent, while the Liberals lagged behind with only 13 per cent support.
But that upswing in PC popularity didn’t sustain itself and certainly didn’t show itself at the polls. The Doerites won a resounding third term.
In 2007 the PCs really thought they had a shot at forming government.
Obviously, the big difference now is former Premier Gary Doer and his bubbly charm are more than a year out of office. And McFadyen has four more years experience under his belt.
That experience tells him to not put a lot of stock in the polls until we get closer to election day.
Certainly, the mood in the Tory camp is a lot more buoyant than it’s been in a while, but no one just yet is predicting a sweeping Tory victory on voting day Oct. 4, 2011. It’s just way too early.
The PCs, NDP and the Liberals have a lot of work ahead of them recruiting new candidates before the campaign really starts—three Tory MLAs have already said they’re not running again. How many NDP MLAs, perhaps even cabinet ministers, won’t run again? I know of at least three.
The poll results may say one thing right now, but there’s no point picking a winner until at least you know all the players on the team.