POLITICS
06/08/2011 07:13 EDT | Updated 08/08/2011 05:12 EDT

NDP Gains In Polls Across Maritimes: Orange Wave Washes Ashore In Atlantic Provinces

CP

It might not be a tidal wave, but the tide is turning in the NDP’s favour in the four Atlantic provinces.

The latest opinion poll results from the Corporate Research Associates indicate that throughout Atlantic Canada the provincial wings of the New Democratic Party have made significant gains.

In New Brunswick, David Alward’s Progressive Conservatives lead with 56 per cent support, ahead of the Liberals and New Democrats, each tied at 20 per cent. That represents a 12-point gain for the NDP in New Brunswick compared to CRA’s last poll from February 2011.

Darrell Dexter, the lone NDP premier in the region, holds an 11-point lead over his Progressive Conservative rivals in Nova Scotia. With a gain of eight points since February, the provincial NDP stands at 42 per cent. The Liberals have sunk 13 points to 22 per cent.

However, neither of these provinces is scheduled to have another election before 2014.

Voters in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, on the other hand, will be heading to the polls this October.

In PEI, Liberal Premier Robert Ghiz is poised to be re-elected to a majority government. He currently enjoys the support of 51 per cent of the province, though that is a drop of 11 points since February. The Progressive Conservatives under Olive Crane, with a 10-point gain to 35 per cent, have apparently been the beneficiaries of the Liberal drop. However, with the large margin of error in this poll, these variations are not statistically significant. The New Democratic gain of two points to 13 per cent is even less so, but is nevertheless part of a regional trend.

At 48 per cent, Mr. Ghiz is considered the best person for premier, and 69 per cent of the province’s residents are mostly or completely satisfied with the performance of his government.

Kathy Dunderdale, the successor to Danny Williams as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, is also losing some support but still well ahead of her opponents. Despite dropping 16 points, the Progressive Conservatives still hold a massive lead with 57 per cent, ahead of the Liberals at 22 per cent and the New Democrats at 20 per cent. However, that is a 12-point gain for the NDP. With this level of support, the New Democrats could form the Official Opposition in the province, a position the party has never held.

Still, with 71 per cent satisfied with her performance and 51 per cent saying she is the best woman to be premier (all three parties are led by women), Ms. Dunderdale has the situation well in hand.

But the success of the New Democratic Party at the federal level appears to have trickled down to the provinces on the East Coast. Whether the same will happen in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the three other provinces scheduled to hold elections this fall, remains to be seen.

The four polls were conducted by the Corporate Research Associates between May 9 and May 31. The telephone survey included 300 adults in Prince Edward Island, 400 in Newfoundland & Labrador, and 800 each in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The margins of error are +/- 5.7 per cent (PEI), 4.9 per cent (NL), and 3.5 per cent (NB and NS), 19 times out of 20.

Éric Grenier is author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.