Manitoba's governing party is on the move, spiralling downward in support outside Winnipeg according to a recent poll.
Conducted by Probe Research for the Winnipeg Free Press, the poll suggests the NDP is struggling, while the Liberals appear to have momentum.
In rural Manitoba, the NDP is now in third place behind the Liberals, according to the poll.
Research associate Curtis Brown said the Liberals are now sitting at 19 per cent outside of the city while the NDP is at 17 per cent.
"The Liberals are gaining momentum everywhere it seems. There are a lot of people who maybe wouldn't go all the way over to casting a ballot for the Tories, who are right now sitting with the Liberals," Brown said.
In the province as a whole, the Opposition Progressive Conservatives have the support of 46 per cent of decided voters — down two points from the last poll in December.
The NDP garnered the support of 28 per cent of decided respondents — up two points from December — and the Liberals scored 23 per cent — up three points.
The telephone survey involved 1,010 Manitoba adults between March 17 and 28. Twenty per cent were undecided or refused to state a preference.
The rate of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20, Brown said.
NDP has time to make up ground, expert says
Meir Serfaty heads Brandon University’s politics department.
He said when a party is in power for a long stretch as the NDP have been in Manitoba, they have to work especially hard to maintain voter satisfaction.
“There’s a growing discontent, I think, with the NDP party particularly of course in areas where they’re not strong,” said Serfaty.
He said the PST hike isn’t the NDP party’s only problem.
“There is one issue that has been the proverbial last straw, and I think that’s the amalgamation issue. A lot of rural municipalities are quite upset, and they really don’t believe the NDP really understands rural areas,” said Serfaty.
But, he said, Manitoba’s Tories may not want to celebrate just yet.
“[NDP voter] discontent is going to the Liberal party and perhaps to a lesser extent to the PCs,” he said.
Serfaty also pointed out the provincial election is still far off, so there is time for the NDP to make up ground.
“I think the [NDP] strength can be easily regained, especially in the areas that matter to them,” he said, pointing to southeast, central and north Winnipeg.