Mixed news for all parties
With the next election now less than two years away, and Progressive Conservatives on the verge of electing a permanent leader, all of the political parties are paying more attention to the polls taken every quarter by Corporate Research Associates. The fall version measuring the political pulse of votes (at least the 300 or so involved in the survey) contains mixed news for all four parties.
The governing Liberals, who will be seeking a fourth term in office next May, jumped seven points from the last quarter and were the choice of 45 per cent of respondents as the preferred party to government.
On the negative side of the equation, Premier Wade MacLauchlan continues to lag behind his party in terms of popularity.
Only 24 per cent of respondents picked him as the best choice to be premier, although that is up two points from the summer survey.
The former UPEI president has dropped 20 points in the ranking over the last year. It is no coincidence that most of the advertising now done by the party has little or no reference to the leader. The opposition Progressive Conservatives dropped slightly in the poll going from 26 to 24 per cent. As well, Opposition Leader Jamie Fox took a slight dip in his popularity going from 15 to 13 per cent.
However, the party is likely to enjoy a bump in the next poll thanks to the election of either Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers or Stratford MLA James Aylward as the new leader.
The party has been without a permanent leader inside the rail since Olive Crane resigned in late 2012, and a strong performance during the fall legislative session by the new leader could see the party make some major gains in the next polling period.
Just as the governing Liberals, the Greens received both good news and bad news from the poll but they have the opposite problem.
Party Leader Dr. Peter Bevan-Baker is one of the most popular politicians in the province and was the choice of 37 per cent of those polled as the best premier - virtually unchanged from May. However, the party went from 26 per cent to 18 per cent. That would indicate the retired dentist has a good chance to win reelection in 2019, but it now looks less likely he will have company. The New Democrats improved their polling numbers, going from eight to 12 per cent. However, party leader Mike Redmond has largely failed to connect with Islanders and remains stalled at five per cent on the question of who would make the best premier. He has to begin to turn that around in the coming months - no easy feat considering he is the only one of the four leaders working without the benefit of a seat in the legislature and the platform that offers in terms of media coverage.
There should be no shortage of issues for the opposition parties to tackle in the fall session. If the Conservatives rally behind their new leader, there could be quite a change in the next poll.