Pollster Don Mills: 'Conservatives have run out of steam'
The CEO of Corporate Research Associates is questioning whether or not Newfoundland and Labrador's Progressive Conservative Party has enough time to rebound before the 2015 general election.
"Over the last year or so there has been a slow but steady move [by voters] towards the Liberals," said CRA's Don Mills.
A public opinion poll that was released on Wednesday shows that the Liberals, under Dwight Ball, would easily form a majority government if an election were held now.
CRA's quarterly poll found that 58 per cent of decided voters would pick a Liberal candidate, up from 53 per cent three months ago.
By contrast, support for the governing Progressive Conservatives dropped to 26 per cent from 29 per cent.
With the province's next general election expected at some point in 2015, Mills thinks the PCs' time to rebound is limited.
"It's not a lot of time to make up the kind of difference that there is in the polls right now. It is a big gap, and 12 months might seem like a long time but it takes a long time to turn around this kind of deficit when it comes to voting intentions," Mills said.
The NDP dropped a point, to 15 per cent.
CRA asked 501 adults which party they would vote for during a 25-day polling period that ended on Monday. The results have a margin of error of 4.4 per cent.
Ball was also the top choice for decided voters as the best leader to become premier, with 40 per cent of respondents picking him. That result is up slightly from 38 per cent in a poll that was released in early June.
By contrast, Premier Tom Marshall was the choice of 28 per cent, while the NDP's Lorraine Michael was the choice of 13 per cent.
"Tom Marshall is a very respected individual as you know, and clearly as an interim leader for the government he has done a pretty good job for the Conservatives based on the satisfaction numbers," Mills added.
Wednesday's poll marked the first poll since Frank Coleman — the Corner Brook businessman who had been poised to become premier in July — abruptly halted his political career.
The poll also comes just 10 days before PC delegates converge on St. John's to choose the party's next leader. Former cabinet ministers Paul Davis, Steve Kent, and John Ottenheimer are competing in the leadership race.
The Tories may take comfort, though, in the poll's finding that the public remains generally comfortable with how the government has been handling its affairs. The poll found that 62 per cent of the public was either completely or mostly satisfied with the provincial government's overall performance — double the 31 per cent recorded in a poll released a year ago.