OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have squandered the bump in support they got from Winnipeg voters at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, making swing ridings vulnerable to a Tory takeover, a new poll commissioned by the Free Press shows.
MethodologyClick to Expand
Probe Research polled a sample of 1,000 adults online, 683 of whom were recruited by phone through representative sampling, with the rest pulled randomly from the firm’s panel of suvery-takers, from Sept. 8 to 17.
That sample provides results with 95 per cent certainty, with the equivalent of a margin of error within 3.1 per cent.
The minority Trudeau government will deliver its throne speech Wednesday amid parliamentary brinkmanship that could trigger an election.
"The Liberals seem to be losing their hold on Manitoba, particularly Winnipeg, and I don't think that's a surprise in light of the WE (Charity) scandal," said Christopher Adams, a political scientist at the University of Manitoba.
The Free Press commissioned Probe Research to poll 1,000 Manitobans at the start of the month. Results show the governing party has lost the edge it achieved as it rolled out pandemic-response payments. Voters have warmed to the Conservatives.
Curtis Brown, a principal at Probe, said the election of a new leader, Erin O’Toole, has given the Tories a boost, while the resignation of Trudeau’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, because of a sole-source contract to the WE Charity, has put a black mark on the Grits' reputation.
Brown cautioned it’s unclear how the seat count in Manitoba would change in a snap election. Of the 14 ridings, the Tories have seven, the Liberals hold four while the NDP have three.
Among the eight ridings in or around Winnipeg, the Liberals hold four seats, while the Conservatives and the NDP each have two MPs.
"This is just one more data point that suggests it probably wouldn't be a great idea for anybody to try, the Liberals especially, to force an election this fall," said Brown.
"In a minority parliament, every seat counts."
In the poll, taken from Sept. 8 to Sept.17, the Tories had 40 per cent among Manitobans, equivalent to what they held in March. The Liberals held 33 per cent, slightly down from 36 points just three months ago, though higher than their 30 per cent support in March.
Adams said support for the Conservatives in Winnipeg stands out: the party jumped to 28 per cent this month, compared with just 19 per cent support in June.
Support for the NDP echoes its 2019 election results: 24 per cent. The Liberals had 42 per cent in Winnipeg, down from 45 per cent three months ago.
"They haven't lost as much in Winnipeg as I would have thought," said Adams, who has worked for Probe.
Still, he said it marks the end of the goodwill the Liberals garnered from the city for a generally successful rollout of support payments, such as the CERB, and Trudeau’s daily media briefings.
In June, the Trudeau government’s support in the city mirrored what it got in 2015 election, when the party swept Winnipeg.
"The Liberals squandered much of the political capital they raised during the COVID crisis," Adams said.
The Conservatives have 60 per cent support among Manitobans who don’t have a post-secondary education, while the Liberals are the most popular option for graduates.
"That education gap is a huge, huge difference," Brown said. "We’ve been seeing this more and more over the past few years, that amount of polarization."
O’Toole seems to have targeted working-class voters with his "take back Canada" message.
On Labour Day, he issued a message that said trade deals undercut Canadian workers, and he talked about the need to shore up domestic manufacturing jobs, which are talking points usually made by unions and the NDP.
Adams noted the Tories poll 10 points lower with women than men in Winnipeg; support for the Liberals is equal along gender lines in the city.
He said that follows a pattern the Harper government broke by recruiting strong female candidates during its time in office.