Mixed news for all par­ties

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL - Andy Walker Andy Walker is an Island-based writer and com­men­ta­tor.

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.

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