Nfld. & Labrador

Paul Davis trails Rex Hillier in Topsail-Paradise: Abacus Data poll

PC Leader Paul Davis says he's not worried about a recent Abacus Data poll that suggests he's trailing behind Liberal challenger Rex Hillier in Topsail-Paradise.

Both candidates vow to keep campaigning hard until election day

A new poll suggests PC Leader Paul Davis lags behind Liberal Rex Hillier for support of decided voters in Topsail-Paradise while NDP candidate Chris Bruce sits in third spot. (CBC)

Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis says he's not worried about a recent Abacus Data poll that suggests he's trailing behind Liberal challenger Rex Hillier in Topsail-Paradise.

The poll, commissioned by VOCM News, was released Wednesday and surveyed 500 eligible voters in the district with 56 per cent of decided voters saying they would vote for Hillier.

That puts Hillier at a 21-point lead over incumbent Davis who had 35 per cent support of the decided voters.

Davis said he's been working on campaigning in his district and across the province  since the writ dropped Nov. 5.

"I know where my support is and I believe that my district … has supported, and the people there have supported, me for many years even prior to being in provincial politics," he said.

PC Leader Paul Davis says the only poll that matters is on election day. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"I'll continue to ask for their support. As we always say, the poll that counts is on election day, and that's the one we're working towards."

Davis added the Liberals had a few extra days of campaigning on the Tories with Leader Dwight Ball kicking off the campaign on Nov. 2.

"We were governing, we were leading and managing the province and we were governing the province and until the writ dropped, it wasn't until that point in time that we actually went into full campaign mode."

Davis added the polls were wrong in the federal election and didn't predict a "Liberal tsunami."

Meanwhile, Davis said just in the last 24 hours he's received plenty of calls and emails of support, but knows there is still campaigning to be done.

"I don't take anything for granted. We've got a lot of work to do."

Liberals say intense campaigning paying off

Rex Hillier said the recent poll showing him in the lead is not a surprise, given how hard he has been hitting the streets in his district.

"I'm feeling a little bit like Forrest Gump," Hillier told reporters during a campaign stop at a Tim Hortons on Wednesday, referring to the 1994 film in which Tom Hanks plays a character who takes up long-distance running.

"I've been walking since the first week in September. As of two days ago we knocked on the last door in the district, and as of yesterday we started going back over them again."

Topsail-Paradise Liberal candidate Rex Hillier said a recent spike in the polls is a result of hard campaigning and possibly changing demographics in the area. (CBC)

Hillier said while the long days and grueling schedule is the main reason, but he said there may also be demographic changes at play, such as new residents in the district who perhaps are not bound by the preexisting opinions on the candidates.

"There's a large group of people there who don't hold any allegiance to anybody," he said.

"They haven't voted for either one of us in the past, and they're making up a significant portion of that population."

I'm feeling a little bit like Forrest Gump. I've been walking since the first week in September.- Rex Hillier

Hillier won in a byelection last year in the Conception Bay South district, following the resignation of Tory Terry French.

However, Hillier lost the Liberal nomination to Steve Porter following district restructuring.

He opted to run for the Liberals in Topsail-Paradise against Davis who became premier in a leadership convention last September, and NDP candidate Chris Bruce.

The Abacus poll put Bruce in third place for support with nine per cent of decided voters saying they would vote for the NDP candidate.

The number of undecided voters was 24 per cent.

The poll was conducted from Nov. 8-12. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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