PCs, Dunderdale still dominate: poll
A poll conducted for CBC News shows Newfoundland and Labrador's Tories are holding the bulk of public support, even in the wake of Danny Williams's retirement from politics.
About 76 per cent of people polled have confidence in Premier Kathy Dunderdale's ability to lead the province, the poll conducted by Halifax-based Corporate Research Associates shows.
As well, the poll shows that the governing Progressive Conservatives far outstrip the other parties on a variety of issues, from controlling government spending to managing health care.
"There's no reason to punish the government right now," said Memorial University political scientist Amanda Bittner, who specializes in public opinion and voting.
Although the PCs had higher poll numbers during the height of Williams's popularity, the latest survey shows a commanding lead for Dunderdale as the parties prepare for the Oct. 11 general election.
"She is in a really good position right now," Bittner said. "You know, not a lot has changed since Danny left. There has been a lot of continuance from previous policies and initiatives, things like that. So it makes sense that people would see her in a similar light to him."
18%: Completely confident in Kathy Dunderdale's ability to lead the the province
58%: Mostly confident
12%: Not very confident
3%: Not at all confident
8%: Don't know/ No answer
Dunderdale was sworn in as premier in December, as Williams stepped down after two terms at the helm.
Though she had initially planned to be an interim premier only, Dunderdale wound up staying on as PC leader with the support of caucus, despite an unsuccessful challenge from businessman Brad Cabana, who has since switched sides to the Liberals.
The poll involved a sample of 402 adults who were surveyed between Feb. 10 and Feb. 28. Because of the sample size, the poll has a margin of error of 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Asked if the departure of Danny Williams would affect their voting decisions, 16 per cent said it would have a significant impact, 22 per cent it would have a moderate impact, and 43 per cent said it would have no impact at all. However, those who said it would have a significant or moderate impact had a higher intention of voting for the Liberals or NDP anyway.
About 34 per cent of respondents said they would less likely to vote for the PCs without Danny Williams as leader. However, about 30 per cent said they were more likely to support the Tories.
Asked which political party offers "the best vision the future of our province," 63 per cent of respondents chose the PCs. By contrast, nine per cent picked the Liberals, six per cent picked the NDP and two per cent would not choose any of the parties. Twenty per cent either did not know or had no answer.
Bittner said the poll shows that the PC brand remains strong with seven months to go before the scheduled election.
"They are rewarding the government for the current situation and unless — and I mean, things can change — [the] Liberals make a huge showing or there's some big scandal or something, I don't think you are going to see a lot of change in the next few months."