09/03/2014 06:51 EDT | Updated 09/03/2014 06:59 EDT

Brian Gallant's Liberals Headed For Big Win In New Brunswick, Polls Suggest


Brian Gallant's Liberals are on track for a big victory in New Brunswick's provincial election, according to two new polls.

The latest numbers from Corporate Research Associates (CRA) come from a poll conducted between August 19-31 and interviewing 800 New Brunswickers via the telephone. They show the Liberals leading with 48 per cent support, with the governing Progressive Conservatives of David Alward behind at 29 per cent. The New Democrats under Dominic Cardy are third with 17 per cent.

These results suggest that support is generally holding steady as the Sept. 22 election approaches. The Liberals have been recorded between 43 and 53 per cent over the last year, while the PCs have been between 25 and 31 per cent since last November. New Democrats are down from the 24 per cent or so they were enjoying this time last year, but have since stabilized.

The poll closely matches another survey recently conducted in the province. Forum Research was in the field on August 25, reaching 962 New Brunswickers via interactive voice response. The poll found the Liberals at 46 per cent, followed by the PCs at 31 per cent and the NDP at 15 per cent. Considering the margins of error of these two polls, those numbers are virtually identical.

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According to CRA, 35 per cent of voters see Gallant as the best person to be premier, beating Alward's 22 per cent and Cardy's 11 per cent. Dissatisfaction with the Alward government is running at 56 per cent, as high as it has been in any poll.

But while the Liberals could cruise to victory in three weeks' time, there are some indications their support could be a little soft. Gallant's approval rating, at 34 per cent in the Forum poll, is only slightly higher than Alward's 27 per cent. However, Alward's disapproval rating is a horrific 60 per cent, compared to just 33 per cent for Gallant. The Liberal leader needs to hope the 33 per cent who have yet to form an opinion about him do so favourably.

Gallant also needs to prevent his own supporters from drifting to the NDP. Cardy had an approval rating of 34 per cent in the Forum poll, the same as Gallant, and a disapproval rating of 29 per cent. But among Liberal voters, Cardy had a net positive rating with 34 per cent approval to 30 per cent disapproval. Neither Gallant nor Alward had net positive ratings among supporters of another party.

Nevertheless, the Liberals are in a strong position. Their lead stands at between 15 and 19 points, and their Liberal cousins in Nova Scotia coasted to a similarly sized victory last fall. According to Forum, one-third of people who voted PC in 2010 and almost one-half of those who voted NDP have swung over to the Liberals. If Gallant can keep these voters in place for another three weeks, he will be the next premier.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers every week. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.