NDP plans for St. John's breakthrough
New Democrats are hoping a strong showing in May's federal election in St. John's will spark a similar outcome in October's provincial election.
The NDP effectively tied with the Liberals for second place in the most recent provincial public opinion polls, following Ryan Cleary's win in St. John's South-Mount Pearl and a national surge in support for the party.
John Riche, who is representing the NDP in the provincial district of Mount Pearl South, is already knocking door-to-door, even though voters don't go to the polls for another three months.
"I think you are going to get a lot of people saying, 'You know what? I'm going to vote NDP this time,'" Riche said.
"I'm seeing it already and the election's not until October."
Mount Pearl South is currently represented by Progressive Conservative Dave Denine.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael holds the party's only seat in the 48-member legislature, and the NDP has never been able to hold more than two seats at any one time.
But the federal election showed that there is great potential for pulling in new support.
For instance, NDP candidates in the metro St. John's area pulled 9,467 votes in the 2007 election. By contrast, 50,069 people in the same pool of voters backed the NDP in May's federal election. St. John's East incumbent Jack Harris won his race by a landslide.
Provincial NDP president Dale Kirby said local voters in the federal election were still not ready to trust the federal Conservatives, despite Premier Kathy Dunderdale's endorsement. He said the federal surge opens the door for gains in the Oct. 11 provincial election.
"It's very positive," said Kirby.
"It shows that people are willing to vote for our party, that a lot of those old voting patterns are starting to break."