P.E.I. politics now a 3-party system, says pollster

Support for the NDP on P.E.I. has reached a level where the province could be described as having a three-party system, says Corporate Research Associates CEO Don Mills.

Progressive Conservative support crashes in poll

Mike Redmond's leadership of the NDP is gaining the approval of Islanders, says pollster Don Mills. (CBC)

Don Mills was commenting on a poll released by his company Wednesday that suggests the NDP are no longer the third party on P.E.I. among decided voters.

For the first time in 25 years of polling on the Island, CRA found the NDP were the second most popular party in the province. Support for the Liberals was steady, but Progressive Conservative support crashed in the last quarter.

"It's likely, highly likely in fact, that we are now into a true, three-party political system," said Mills.

How would you vote in a provincial election?

Liberal: 51%

NDP: 26%

Progressive Conservative: 16%

Green Party: 7%

Source: Corporate Research Associates, results considered accurate within 5.6 percentage points

"If these numbers were to hold for the NDP over the next couple of years, of course, they are likely to elect members to the legislature."

The NDP have only ever elected one member to the legislature, Herb Dickieson from 1996 to 2000.

The CRA poll showed a large number of Islanders, 42 per cent, are still undecided or refused to provide their opinion.

The poll was conducted between Feb. 11 and March 2, just as a major drama surrounding the Progressive Conservative leadership was coming to a close.

Steven Myers was confirmed as interim leader and Opposition leader on Feb. 14. For about two weeks the two roles had been split, creating confusion about who was leading the party.

Mills noted the Tories are still a long way from electing a permanent leader, and said the choice of that leader is critical. He said this may be the worst the party has ever performed in a CRA poll, and digging out of the hole will be more difficult with the NDP gaining a firm foothold.

"The rise of the NDP party on the Island is really something that has been pretty spectacular in the last year especially," he added.

In contrast to the confusion over the Tory leadership, Mills said new NDP Leader Mike Redmond appears to gaining the approval of Islanders.

The poll is considered accurate with 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The next scheduled provincial election is October, 2015.