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Winnipeg Free Press



Support for Tories plunges: poll

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If an election were held today, voters could be ushering in NDP Premier Wab Kinew.

That's the possible outcome, less than a year after the Tories were awarded a second majority government, according to the results of the latest Probe Research-Free Press poll, which was conducted after weeks of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In seat-rich Winnipeg, the poll shows huge support for the NDP amid a sharp decline in popularity for Premier Brian Pallister's government. Provincewide, the two parties have a statistical tie: the Tories have 38 per cent, the NDP has 36 per cent, the Liberals 18 per cent and the Green party has seven per cent.

Even more shocking is that in southwest Winnipeg, the Tories are in third place, with 22 per cent support; the NDP has 40 per cent and the Liberals have 30 per cent.

The poll has additional good news for the Liberal party: in Winnipeg, it is breathing down the neck of the Tory party, with 21 per cent support — only four percentage points behind the governing party.

Scott MacKay, president of Probe Research, said it is a good thing for the Tories that the next election is three years away.

"The trend is not going well for the Tory government this early in its term," MacKay said on Friday. "These numbers are not good."

The numbers show the NDP is very strong in Winnipeg. The party, at 44 per cent, has a commanding 19 per cent lead over the Progressive Conservatives. The Green party is at eight per cent.

The poll reveals the NDP is ahead in every part of the city, except the southeast, where it is still statistically tied with the Tories.

The Tories continued to be bolstered by the party's rural base, with almost six in 10, or 58 per cent, of rural Manitobans favouring the PC party, while 21 per cent support the NDP and 12 per cent the Liberals.

The Tories have more support from older voters, with 47 per cent of people 55 and older favouring them, compared with 28 per cent for the NDP and 20 per cent for the LIberals.

The NDP holds a slight lead over the Tories among younger and middle-aged voters, and a small lead (38 per cent versus 33 per cent) with women. Men support the Tories (42 per cent) over the NDP (33 per cent).

Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said Pallister won his first election, in 2016, after a long period of NDP rule, which ended with a cabinet revolt against premier Greg Selinger. Now, after a second victory last fall, voters in Winnipeg have experienced his changes to the health care system and other cuts in his drive to reduce taxes.

"He won't even loosen the purse strings in a crisis," Thomas said.

"He's almost dogmatic in his belief of limited government... If the pandemic and recession have made us more receptive of a positive role of government, it may help the NDP. We see the need for government when we are in a crisis."

Thomas said the Liberals usually benefit from higher support between elections. He questioned whether the party would hold onto that support or increase it, if Pallister retires before the next election.

The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent, surveyed a random and representative sampling of 1,000 Manitoba adults from June 2 to 11.


Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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