Nfld. & Labrador

PCs back on top in Newfoundland and Labrador, new poll suggests

Premier Dwight Ball says he isn't surprised by the numbers for one reason in particular.

Dwight Ball says Liberals are going through 'most challenging' time, but poll just reflects timing

Support for Ches Crosbie, seen here speaking at the Progressive Conservative party's leadership event in St. John's, and the PCs now tops support for the other parties, according to a new poll. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

The Progressive Conservative party is now the most preferred provincial political party for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, a new poll suggests.

Forty-two per cent of respondents in the most recent Corporate Research Associates poll, released Tuesday, support the PC party, with 36 per cent supporting the Liberals and 22 per cent the NDP.

This is the first time since May 2017 that the PCs have overtaken the governing Liberals in voter support in CRA polling. The bump comes from a mix of declining Liberal support and increasing PC support, CRA said.

Premier Dwight Ball says he isn't concerned, however, since the polling happened in the weeks following the PC leadership vote in late April — something that always leads to a bump in polling, he said.

"Not at all surprised," he told a CBC reporter at an announcement in Botwood on Tuesday. 

"This is really about timing."

The newly elected leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador PC party, Ches Crosbie, also came out ahead in the quarterly survey, with 34 per cent of the vote for leader preference versus 27 per cent for Premier Dwight Ball and 19 per cent for NDP Leader Gerry Rogers.

Recent polling shows the PCs have jumped ahead of the Liberal and NDP parties in the province. (CBC)

That makes Crosbie, for now, more popular than his predecessor Paul Davis, who was the top pick of 27 per cent of the 800 adult Newfoundland and Labrador residents who were polled by CRA in the first half of May.

But 29 per cent, or just under three in 10, of the province's residents aren't sure which provincial party they support. Six per cent prefer none of the three main party leaders and another 14 per cent have no specific preference.

Residents still dissatisfied with Liberals, but slightly less so

The trend of overall dissatisfaction in the Liberal government continues, with the poll finding that 38 per cent of respondents are satisfied with the government's performance, 56 per cent are unsatisfied and seven per cent had no opinion either way.

Ball said this is the "most challenging" time the party has faced, as allegations of bullying and harassment are being investigated in the House of Assembly and two cabinet ministers have been ousted.

"We've dealt with issues that have primarily been internalized in the past, but we've made a decision that it's certainly discussions we need to have to be able to be more transparent," Ball said.

Allegations of bullying and harassment rocked the provincial political landscape. (John Gushue/CBC)

But while the poll shows voters may prefer Crosbie and the PCs, their overall satisfaction with the governing Liberals has gone up slightly since the most recent polling in February, when satisfaction was at 35 per cent and dissatisfaction sat at 61 per cent.

The CRA poll was carried out by telephone between May 3 and May 17 and is considered accurate within 3.5 percentage points, 95 times out of 100.

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