Nfld. & Labrador

NDP support swings upward as Liberals fall slightly: CRA poll

Newfoundland and Labrador's New Democrats have seen a dramatic increase in support since electing a new party leader in March, according to a poll released Monday by Corporate Research Associates.

Progressive Conservatives drop slight to 27 per cent support

Support for the New Democratic Party is on an upswing, and coincides with the election in March of new leader Earle McCurdy. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's New Democrats have seen a dramatic increase in support since electing a new party leader in March, according to a poll released Monday by Corporate Research Associates.

The CRA poll reveals that support for the NDP has increased to 22 per cent, putting the party just five percentage points behind the governing Progressive Conservatives, which fell slightly to 27 per cent.

The growth in support for the NDP appears to come largely at the expense of the Opposition Liberals, which dropped to 50 per cent, down by six points.

Support for the Liberals has hovered between 50 and 60 per cent over the last year. 

Premier Paul Davis said Monday he was not dismayed by the poll result, which suggests the Tories are having difficulty gaining traction in the leadup to the next election. 

"Knowing that we came through a budget where we had to make some very difficult decisions, I expected to see that we would take a drop in the polls, that the numbers would reduce," Davis told reporters. 

The NDP rebound coincides with the election in March of Earle McCurdy as party leader. McCurdy retired as president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union shortly before moving to politics. 

The party is still trying to recover from an implosion in late 2013 that climaxed with the departure Dale Kirby and Chris Mitchelmore, reducing the party's ranks in the House of Assembly to just three MHAs.

The Tories, meanwhile, have struggled to stay above 30 per cent support while dealing with their own problems. 

Poll sets scene for pre-election campaigning

The poll comes as all three parties prepare for a provincial general election, which Davis said Monday will be held Nov. 30. 

As for party leaders, CRA found that Liberal Dwight Ball is out front with 43 per cent support, down slightly from February's poll, while Premier Paul Davis' popularity dropped slightly to 26 per cent.

McCurdy was the preference for 18 per cent of those polled.

Speaking with reporters Monday at Confederation Building, Ball said he was pleased the party still held a commanding lead — and was quick to throw a barb at McCurdy. 

"I think when Newfoundlanders and Labradorians get a chance to see the one-dimensional leadership of Earle McCurdy, they will see that this is not the leader who can take them through those difficult challenges," said Ball, who described Davis as a "tired" leader on his way out. 

The poll is based on a sample of 804 residents, and was conducted between May 11 and June 1.

The margin area for that sample size is 3.5 per cent, 95 times out of 100. 

The poll was taken in the wake of the NDP's triumph in the Alberta election, and comes as the federal NDP has made enough gains to suggest a three-way federal race. 

McCurdy said he welcomed the result, and said it was in line with "the kind of feedback we've been getting" from the public. 

"It's also consistent with national trends. I think maybe finally austerity is being displaced by hope ... as something that maybe should guide how we operate," McCurdy said. 

"And of course, obviously, the Alberta outcome didn't hurt." 

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