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This article was published 30/8/2019 (211 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservatives appear headed for a second consecutive election victory, but it's unlikely to be the cake walk it was in 2016, a new Probe Research poll for the Free Press and CTV Winnipeg News shows.
The online survey, conducted Aug. 13 to 24, found 40 per cent of decided and leaning voters support the PCs, compared with 29 per cent for the NDP, 18 per cent for the Liberals and 10 per cent for the Greens. Twelve per cent of those surveyed were undecided.
In Winnipeg, the Tories and the New Democrats are neck in neck, with the PCs at 33 per cent to the NDP's 32 per cent. Liberal support among decided voters in the city is 21 per cent, while Green support is 12 per cent.
"This is a far cry from the 53 per cent that (the PCs) captured at the ballot box in 2016, but that was a remarkable election... historic really," said Scott MacKay, Probe's president, of the latest results. "In a way, they had nowhere to go but down."
Despite weeks of official electioneering — and months more of unofficial campaigning — the parties' relative popularity hasn't changed markedly in more than a year. In June, another Probe poll had the PCs on top with 42 per cent, to the NDP's 26 per cent, with the Liberals and the Greens closer together at 16 per cent and 14 per cent of decided and leaning voters, respectively.
When one digs deeper into the numbers, there are opportunities and pitfalls for the two frontrunners.
The Tories' 40 per cent figure looks high, especially in a three-way race, but polling experts and political scientists point out that the party's vote in Manitoba is not as efficient as the NDP's.
Probe Research conducted an online survey of 1,200 Manitoba adults from Aug. 13 to 24. Respondents were recruited from Probe's proprietary online panel, as well as from a national online panel. Probe said a random telephone survey of this size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points 19 times our of 20.
"The PCs tend to have more seats in which they win with very large margins. So when you're looking at the 40 per cent figure, some of that might be wasted numbers on seats outside of Winnipeg" that the PCs tend to win handily," said Christopher Adams, a University of Manitoba political scientist and author.
In Winnipeg, the NDP is in a virtual tie with the governing party in popularity, but finds itself battling for votes on two fronts: one against the PCs and one fending off two centre-left parties in the Liberals and the Greens, who between them have the support of one-third of voters.
In an analysis of the survey results, Probe said the PCs appear to be benefiting from the fact that a significant number of voters who cast ballots for the NDP when it was in power remain dispersed.
"Only one-quarter of these 'lapsed' NDP voters say they plan to vote NDP this time, with more than one-third preferring the PCs, one in five backing the Liberals and one in 10 preferring the Greens," the research firm said.
It also noted the Tory vote is the firmest. Fully eight in 10 decided and leaning PC voters are certain they will cast ballots for the party, compared with two-thirds of NDP supporters, slightly more than one-half of Liberal voters and fewer than one-half of Green supporters.
MacKay said another advantage for the PCs is their popularity among older voters (55-plus), who are more likely to show up on voting day. The Tories have 51 per cent of these voters compared with 26 per cent for the NDP.
"So, if you want to look just beneath the surface and say who's in the best shape here, it would be the Tories," he said.
Provincially, the PCs continue to be considerably more popular than their main rivals, the New Democrats, among men (44 per cent vs. 26 per cent) and a little bit more popular among women (36 per cent vs. 32 per cent). In Winnipeg, however, the NDP has a nine-point edge over the Tories (37 per cent to 28 per cent) among women.
Provincially, 16 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women support the Liberals.
In Winnipeg, the PCs and the NDP are statistically tied in northwest and northeast sections of the city, with the Tories holding a significant advantage in the southeast. The PCs and Liberals are tied in southwest Winnipeg, while the NDP dominates in the core, followed by the Greens.
Meanwhile, among the youngest voters — those aged 18-34 — all four parties are relatively competitive. The NDP has 29 per cent of this vote, compared with 25 per cent for the PCs, 24 per cent for the Liberals and 16 per cent for the Greens.
The Free Press shared the provincial and Winnipeg numbers earlier on Friday with the three main parties in an attempt to get their reaction to the poll. All responded, but none commented directly on the results.
"While we don’t comment on poll numbers, we are encouraged by the positive reaction our candidates are getting at the doors from Manitobans who are excited about our plan to make their lives more affordable while improving services and bolstering the economy," the PCs said in a statement.
"This election is a clear choice: more health care cuts with Brian Pallister, or better health care with Wab Kinew and the NDP" was the reaction from the New Democrats.
"Manitoba Liberals have been busy and will continue getting the message out that we are the only progressive option to vote for — offering a new way forward for all Manitobans," said the Liberals.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.
Updated on Saturday, August 31, 2019 at 11:36 AM CDT: Clarifies reference to CTV Winnipeg News.