Selinger poor choice to keep as Manitoba NDP leader, poll finds

The recent Manitoba NDP leadership contest did little to boost Premier Greg Selinger's popularity — and the party's fortunes — among the general public, according to a new poll.
The recent Manitoba NDP leadership contest did little to boost Premier Greg Selinger's popularity — and the party's fortunes — among the general public, according to a new poll. 1:56
The recent Manitoba NDP leadership contest did little to boost Premier Greg Selinger's popularity — and the party's fortunes — among the general public, according to a new poll.
A significant number of Manitobans are questioning the collective wisdom of New Democratic Party members to keep Greg Selinger as leader and premier, according to a Probe Research poll. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Two in five, or 40 per cent, of Manitoba adults think the New Democrats made the wrong decision by voting to keep Selinger as leader and premier in the March 8 leadership election, according to Probe Research, which conducted the poll.

Another 33 per cent think the party made the correct decision, seven per cent believe the choice of leader makes no difference on the party's fortunes, and 20 per cent had no opinion or refused to say.

"This, as we all know, was an extraordinary leadership contest, and it really did nothing to help the NDP or elevate them in the public's eye," Probe Research president Scott MacKay said Monday.

The poll also found 42 percent of Manitobans believe the NDP is less likely to win the next election, which will be held April 19, 2016, with Selinger as party leader.

Only one in 10 (11 per cent) believe the NDP is likely to defeat the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals.

The poll results suggest the New Democrats are trailing in some must-win constituencies in suburban Winnipeg, including seats currently held by high-profile NDP MLAs such as Theresa Oswald, Erin Selby and Nancy Allan.

"It's a recent thing that they've done well in these suburban seats, and what it's starting to look like is that support is maybe crumbling or it's certainly threatened at this point," MacKay said.

Tories, Liberals gaining ground

Results of the survey show the Progressive Conservatives are well ahead provincewide with 44 per cent support of the 1,005 people surveyed. The NDP took 29 per cent and the Liberals are at 20 per cent.

Despite plenty of media interest at the NDP convention, the Conservatives are in the driver's seat when it comes to popularity, said Curtis Brown, a vice-president at Probe Research.

"The Tories still have a significant gap over the NDP and they would be likely to win the next election based on the numbers today," he said.

Party support within Winnipeg alone pegs the Tories at 35 per cent, with the NDP close behind at 34 per cent and the Liberals at 24 per cent, according to the poll results.

"The Liberals, at 24 per cent in the city, is a new factor and that will be enough in many cases I think to act as a spoiler and to defeat NDP candidates who were elected last time when there was little Liberal support in the city," MacKay said.

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari says she realizes not everyone knows her name yet, but she and the party are working on raising their profile.

"They may not see me in the media all the time, but where I am is on the ground," she said Monday.

"I focus on community events, I focus on meeting people on the ground. It's that grassroots approach, but it takes time."

The provincewide survey was conducted via telephone interviews conducted between March 17 and April 1, 2015, among a random and representative sampling of 1,005 adults.

The poll, commissioned by the Winnipeg Free Press, results have a 95 per cent certainty rate within +/- 3.1 percentage points of what it would've been if every adult in Manitoba were surveyed.

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