After the last federal election some observers felt the NDP had reached its peak based on the popularity of then-leader Jack Layton and the surprising success of the "orange wave" in Quebec.
Since then, the party has seen the death of Layton and a leadership campaign won by Thomas Mulcair, and recent polls have shown the NDP leading the federal Conservatives in national support.
What is happening with the NDP — is it turning into a possible national government alternative? How deep are these roots, and is there a spillover effect to its provincial fortunes?
"What's a bit of an eye-popper, is a recent poll that was completed by Environics Research on what is happening in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador," says Nik Nanos of Nanos Research.
The poll found support for the provincial NDP at 38 per cent in June, up 13 points from their showing in the provincial election last October. By contrast, support for the provincial Tories were at 35 per cent in June, down 21 points from the election. The Liberals were at 26 per cent, up 7 points from their 19 per cent showing in October.
Those numbers put the NDP at an all-time high in the province and show the Tories, who had a strong hold on the province under former leader Danny Williams and won the last election under current Premier Kathy Dunderdale with 56 per cent support, dropping significantly.
"In this province, the traditional parties have been a lock, in terms of the government and winnability," Nanos told host Evan Solomon of CBC News Network's Power & Politics. "The interesting thing when we look at [these] numbers is that, when the Tories drop, the main beneficiary are the NDP.
"For every three voters lost by the Conservatives provincially, the NDP pick up two and the Liberals only pick up one."
Nanos said the numbers can be extrapolated to federal vote intention. The Environics survey shows the NDP at 49 per cent federally in the province, up 16 points; the Conservatives are down 11 points and the Liberals are down four.
"Voters that have traditionally, almost forever, focussed on the two traditional parties are now looking at alternatives both federally and provincially."
The provincial numbers hold a significant warning for the NDP's federal rivals, Nanos said.
"Don't just look at the national numbers, watch what's going on in the provinces because they may be a leading indicator as to how deep, if at all, this change is for Thomas Mulcair and the New Democrats."
Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).
Little-Known Mulcair Facts
Here are some facts you may not have known about NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. (CP)
10. He Used To Be A Liberal
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks</a> in Jean Charest's Liberal government in Quebec. He served in the role from 2003-2006. (CP)
8. He's French (Kind Of)
Mulcair married Catherine Pinhas in 1976. She was born in France to a Turkish family of Sephardic Jewish descent. <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair has French citizenship through his marriage</a>, as do the couple's two sons. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
7. They Used To Be Friends
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair left Charest's Liberal government in Quebec </a>after he was offered the position of Minister of Government Services in 2006, an apparent demotion from Minister of the Environment. Mulcair has said his ouster was related to his opposition to a government plan to transfer land in the Mont Orford provincial park to condo developers. (CP)
6. Ancestor Was Premier Of Quebec
Mulcair's great-great-grandfather on his mother's side was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor%C3%A9_Mercier" target="_hplink">Honoré Mercier, the ninth premier of Quebec</a>. (Public Domain/Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was the first New Democrat to win a riding in Quebec during a federal election</a>. He held the riding of Outremont during the 2008 election after first winning the seat in a 2007 by-election. Phil Edmonston was the first New Democrat to win a seat in Quebec, but his win came in a 1990 by-election. Robert Toupin was the very first to bring a Quebec seat to the NDP, but he did it in 1986 by crossing the floor. (Alamy)
4. He's Half Irish.
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair's father Harry Donnelly Mulcair was Irish-Canadian</a> and his mother Jeanne French-Canadian. His father spoke to him in English and his mother in French -- explaining his fluency in both official languages. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
3. He Votes In France
Muclair has voted in past French elections, but says that now that he is leader of the Official Opposition <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1157191" target="_hplink">he will not take part in the upcoming French presidential vote</a>. (Thinkstock)
2. Young Love At First Sight
<a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair met his future wife at a wedding when they were both teenagers</a>. Catherine was visiting from France. They married two years later when they were both 21. (CP)
1. Mr. Angry
<a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/16/thomas-mulcair-is-mr-angry/" target="_hplink">Mulcair was given the moniker in a Maclean's headline</a>, but the new leader of the NDP has long been known for his short fuse. In 2005, he was fined $95,000 for defamatory comments he made about former PQ minister Yves Duhaime on TV. The comments included French vulgarity and an accusation that alleged influence peddling would land Duhaime in prison.