Tories decline, NDP rise in Winnipeg: poll

As speculation mounts about whether Premier Brian Pallister will call a spring election, new poll results suggest he may have a fight on his hands in Winnipeg, the province's most important battleground.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/04/2019 (1456 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As speculation mounts about whether Premier Brian Pallister will call a spring election, new poll results suggest he may have a fight on his hands in Winnipeg, the province’s most important battleground.

The Progressive Conservatives still hold a commanding lead in rural Manitoba, but continue to slide in Winnipeg, where they are now trailing the NDP by four percentage points — 36 per cent to 32, according to the latest Probe Research poll.

While the New Democrats inch ahead in Winnipeg (up six per cent in support since December), the Liberals’ backing is wavering across the province, down three per cent over the same time period, according to polls commissioned by the Free Press.

The most recent Probe poll, which surveyed 1,000 Manitobans between March 12 and March 24, found a one-point provincial sales tax cut promised by the PCs in the 2019 budget didn’t appear to increase the party’s popularity.


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PC support actually dwindled by two per cent overall since December. This time around, 42 per cent of decided or leaning voters said they would back a Tory candidate if an election were held tomorrow.

Meanwhile, 30 per cent of those surveyed would support the NDP (up three per cent from December), and 18 per cent would vote for the Liberals (down three per cent).

Probe president Scott MacKay said he didn’t expect a large upswing in Tory support after the PST cut (scheduled for July 1), mostly because those voting for the party already believed the move was coming. He expected any "horse-trading" to happen between the NDP and Liberals, parties which traditionally battle for left-leaning votes.

If Pallister were to call an election before the fixed date of Oct. 6, 2020, the new poll results show his party could win a second majority mandate.

"The thing about (dropping the writ) is you usually do need a reason to go early. It can’t just be totally crass opportunism," MacKay said.

Pallister floated a reason last week at a Manitoba 150 launch party. He noted some Manitobans have told him they don’t want politicking interfering with the sesquicentennial celebrations scheduled for 2020.

The Manitoba government legally has to call the election on a Tuesday. If it sticks to the fixed election date, it must hold a blackout period of 90 days before the election. That would forbid government announcements or advertising during a year bound to be full of public events.

Chris Adams, a political scientist with St. Paul’s College, said the 150th anniversary could cramp the Tories’ style because "it does carve out a piece of the year where the government can’t be proclaiming things."

Adams said the Manitoba Liberals’ "brand halo" seems to be wearing off as their federal counterparts are plagued by the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. affair, which cost them two more caucus members (Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott) Tuesday.

He wondered whether the provincial party has enough organizational clout and capacity to get its "electoral machine" up and running for an early election.

Paul Thomas, a political scientist at the University of Manitoba, also believed SNC-Lavalin is affecting local Liberals.

"Many voters who pay limited attention to public affairs and are ill formed about basic features of the political system, are prone to confuse and conflate events on the national and the provincial level," he said.

Thomas said the Tories will likely be happy with the latest Probe results, which are positive for them just past the midway point in their first mandate. He believed the PCs would also like to see the Liberals poll higher.

"If the Liberals do well, it comes at the expense of the NDP and the PCs come out the winner, I guess."

Twitter: @_jessbu


Updated on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 9:30 AM CDT: Corrects typo in cutline

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