Support for Manitoba NDP rising in Winnipeg, while Tories' popularity dips: poll

The Tories are now below the surging NDP in the provincial capital, according to a new poll.

Premier Brian Pallister's pledge to cut PST didn't result in bump in support, Probe Research poll says

Winnipeg ridings would be a battleground for NDP Leader Wab Kinew and PC Leader Brian Pallister, seen following the throne speech last November, if a provincial election were held tomorrow, new poll numbers suggest. (John Woods/The Canadian Press )

Winnipeggers should expect some hotly contested races in the next provincial election, new polling numbers suggests.

Support for the Progressive Conservatives dropped three percentage points to 32 per cent of decided and leaning voters in Manitoba's capital from last December, according to a Probe Research poll.

The Tories' support in the city is now below that of the surging NDP, whose support rose to 36 per cent, up from 30 per cent in December polling.

Premier Brian Pallister's team won 17 of Winnipeg's 31 seats in the last provincial election in 2016. 

It seems the NDP's rise comes at the expense of the Manitoba Liberals, which slipped four percentage points to be the preferred party of 23 per cent of voters surveyed in the poll. 

No bump after PST cut

Outside Winnipeg, the Tories remain way ahead with 58 per cent of deciding and leaning voters on their side. The NDP have the backing of two of 10 voters, while the Liberals take 12 per cent, the poll said.

The Progressive Conservatives didn't see a jump in support after trumpeting a one percentage point cut to the provincial sales tax, noted Mary Agnes Welch, a partner at Probe Research.

"The single biggest takeaway from that latest provincial poll is that the bump in the polls that you might have expected the premier to get for cutting the PST, he didn't quite see," Welch told CBC Manitoba's Information Radio.

"In fact, he dropped a couple points," she said.

"He's perfectly positioned to go into the next election, whenever that may come, but this notion of a PST cut that's going to win … some extra support didn't quite materialize," which she speculated was because the cut was widely expected by Manitobans.

The latest quarterly poll from Probe Research shows the Tories and Liberals have slipped in popularity provincewide, while NDP support has risen. (Probe Research)

The new quarterly poll surveyed 1,000 adults in Manitoba from Mar. 12-24, who were selected through random dialling to include both landline and wireless phone numbers. A randomized sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

If a provincial election were held tomorrow, the poll suggests Tories would be well on their way to a second majority government.

Provincewide, they are supported by 42 per cent of decided and leaning voters surveyed (down two per cent from December), whereas the NDP have 30 per cent (up three per cent), the Liberals have 18 per cent (down three per cent) and the Greens would take seven per cent (up five per cent) of voter support, the poll said.

Fifteen per cent of voters are undecided, according to the poll.

The PCs have historically had the backing of men, rural residents and those with a high school education or less, and that remains the case, while the Opposition NDP have higher levels of support among women, post-secondary graduates and Indigenous Peoples.

"It's that classic split that we see all the time in Manitoba," Welch said.

The poll's findings aren't earth-shattering by any means, said Christopher Adams, a political scientist based at the University of Manitoba's St. Paul's College. A shift of a few percentage points here and there is mainly within the statistical margin of error, he said.

But he argued the Liberals should be concerned they're losing ground. He wonders if the provincial party has been hurt by public reaction to the federal party's handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said he'll have to convince voters his party is different not just from their federal counterparts, but from the other provincial offerings. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said it's up to him and his party to convince Manitoba voters they're different.

"Ultimately, our challenge is always to say how we're going to be different — not just from the federal Liberals, but how are we different from the NDP and PCs as well."

Tories in majority territory

The big winner in this poll is the Tories, even if their popularity has slipped, said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba.

"You would never expect to hold the level of support you had back in 2016 when you won a record victory and you promised to make some tough decisions on budgetary matters and health changes," he said.

Considering that, the party's showing in this poll is  "pretty good," said Thomas.

He said the findings may entice Pallister to call an early election — though he also said it's possible Pallister's recent suggestions of an early call are simply a matter of playing mind games with the opposition.

With files from CBC Manitoba's Information Radio


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