Nfld. & Labrador

3rd poll suggests dead heat between PCs and Liberals in N.L. election

Forum Research conducted a poll that indicates the PCs have 42 per cent support, while the Liberals hold 40 per cent among decided or leaning voters.

Disapproval ratings above 50 per cent for Ball, Crosbie and Coffin

PC Leader Ches Crosbie and Liberal Leader Dwight Ball clash during a discussion about rate mitigation and the Muskrat Falls project during the televised leaders debate at the Here & Now studio in St. John's. (CBC)

"It's looking like the election could go either way."

That's how Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, sees the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election after a poll conducted among 856 potential voters was released on Thursday.

Among decided or leaning voters polled, 42 per cent support the Progressive Conservatives, while the Liberals hold 40 per cent, the New Democrats are at 13 per cent, and six per cent selected "other" options.

A few seats for the third party could mean the difference between a majority and a minority.- Lorne Bozinoff

The difference between the two leading parties is within the margin of error — plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20 — meaning it's too close to confidently say one party is leading over the other.

The poll did not account for undecided voters. When asked why, Bozinoff told The St. John's Morning Show it didn't matter.

"We take them out because we believe at the end of the day, most of the undecideds will vote the way everyone else will vote. They'll break basically in the same proportions, or they won't vote."

Of the 856 respondents, only 79 said they were undecided, leaving 91 per cent of people decided or leaning.

Based on the 777 respondents counted in the results, Forum Research estimates the PCs will win 19 seats, the Liberals 18 and the NDP three.

"What will be fascinating to watch is how the NDP will factor into the final results," Bozinoff said. "Even just a few seats for the third party could mean the difference between a majority and a minority government."

This is the third poll released in Newfoundland and Labrador this week, with each showing different results.

Abacus Data had the PCs five percentage points higher than the Liberals among decided voters, while MQO suggested the Liberals had a 12-point lead over the PCs — again, among decided voters.

Forum Research was the only group of pollsters to accurately predict the PC party was leading in the recent Prince Edward Island election.

Trouble for Liberals in central

The polling suggests the strongest support for the PCs is in "central Newfoundland and Grand Falls-Windsor," where most districts are currently red.

Forum Research says 48 per cent of respondents in the region support the PC party, whereas support for the Liberals is at 37 per cent.

The west coast of Newfoundland shows the strongest support for the Liberals, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they'd vote red.

More than half dissatisfied with all leaders

While the numbers for party support is close, the number of people disapproving of all three party leaders is even closer.

"None of them did that well," Bozinoff said. 

The poll suggested 63 per cent of respondents disapprove of the job Dwight Ball has done as premier, while 37 per cent support him.

For Ches Crosbie, 55 per cent of people disapprove of his abilities to lead the Progressive Conservative party, while 45 per cent approve.

Leaders Alison Coffin, Dwight Ball and Ches Crosbie are vying for the top job in the province. (CBC)

For the NDP, 52 per cent disapprove of Alison Coffin's job as leader, while 48 per cent approve.

About 40 per cent of respondents didn't think there was a winner at the leader's debate broadcast by CBC and NTV on May 1.

When asked if they thought Newfoundland and Labrador was better or worse off than it was four years ago, 66 per cent said worse, with 42 per cent saying "much worse."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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