Nfld. & Labrador

Liberal support 'plunges,' Dwight Ball's popularity on sharp decline: CRA poll

The latest poll results from Corporate Research Associates show Dwight Ball's Liberal government has lost favour with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Latest research shows 'large majority' or residents dissatisfied with government

Premier Dwight Ball, pictured during his winning election night in November, has since dropped in popularity since February, from 53 per cent to 18 per cent. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The popularity of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal government has plummeted in the wake of a tough budget, according to a public opinion poll released Thursday, but Premier Dwight Ball says the Liberals will recover.

Only 27 per cent of decided voters would vote Liberal again if an election were held now, down dramatically from the 66 per cent that Halifax-based pollster Corporate Research Associates reported three months ago. 

In addition to a stark drop in support for the Liberal party, CRA founded that a "large majority" of people in Newfoundland and Labrador are dissatisfied with the government's performance, and that Premier Dwight Ball's personal popularity has sharply declined since he was sworn in just six months ago.

Premier Dwight Ball took the poll results in stride on Thursday afternoon, noting that it is still "very early days" in his government. 

"I wasn't surprised at all," he said. "We just delivered what is probably one of the most difficult budgets in the history of the province."

Ball, who has been battling critics from all sides over April's tax-hiking, cost-cutting budget, defended his choices before reporters outside the House of Assembly, where opposition MHAs have waged a filibuster since Monday night. 

"To maintain popularity, it would have been easy for me to simply ask someone else — some other generation — to actually pay for [some] things. But [that's] really not why I got into politics." 

He added that he believes the Liberals will recover once people see the long-term benefits of the government's plan. 

CRA noted a "substantial decline" in support for the Liberals with just two in 10 residents satisfied with the Liberal government's performance so far. That's just 21 per cent — down from 64 per cent three months ago.

Overall, 75 per cent of residents polled said they were dissatisfied with government.

Those changes are a dramatic shift from just six months ago, when a CRA poll in November showed the Liberals were poised to sweep the province in the general election.

PC Leader Paul Davis has had a slight increase in support, up to 35 per cent approval from 29 per cent. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Making the largest increase in support are the New Democrats, with 38 per cent support, up from just 11 per cent four months ago.

The Progressive Conservatives have made some gains, with 34 per cent of decided voter support. That's up from 23 per cent in February.

The number of undecided voters stands at 25 per cent, with three per cent of people polled refused to identify a preference. Eight per cent either supported none of the parties or do not plan to vote.

None of the above

NDP Leader Earl McCurdy doesn't have a seat in the House of Assembly, but at 22 per cent approval, the numbers suggest he has more voter support than Dwight Ball. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

As for Ball's popularity, that's down to just 18 per cent support, compared to 53 per cent only three months ago.

PC Leader Paul Davis has a small gain in popularity: up to 35 per cent, from 29 per cent.

Despite not being an elected member in the House of Assembly, NDP Leader Earle McCurdy has more support than the premier at 22 per cent approval among the people polled. That number is up from eight per cent.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent of people polled said they favoured neither of the three leaders — that's up from five per cent. Eight per cent offered no opinion.

These results are a part of CRA Atlantic Quarterly, an independent telephone survey of Atlantic Canadians. They are based on a sample of 801 voting-aged Newfoundland and Labrador residents.

The survey was conducted from May 9 to May 30 with overall results accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 95 out of 100 samples. Rounding may mean percentages may not equal 100 per cent.