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Abacus Poll shows NL political problems
Abacus Data has a poll about Newfoundland and Labrador provincial politics and the results are a fascinating insight into the local scene both for the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals.
Let’s do the Liberals first and then the Pea Seas. The Dippers are entirely irrelevant, which is where they deliberately want to be. *That* tells you all about them you need to know. Abacus’ David Coletto makes much of the big Dipper polling numbers but the reality is that when it comes to ballot time, most voters don’t follow through for the Orange short crowd.
From last week’s column and the federal poll, you will remember that the top issues in the province are cost of living, health care, and affordable housing.
All three of these are provincial jurisdiction and on all three people polled by Abacus thought Andrew Furey and the Liberals were doing a scitte job in handling them. That’s the Old English word for human excrement, by the way and it still hangs around as a synonym for loose stool. It pronounces the same as the four letter word we use these days for the same thing. It escapes social media filters and those of you of a tender and gentle disposition may find it less triggering than shit.
Cost of living: 84% think this is the biggest issue. 77% thing Team Furey is doing a poor or very poor job.
Health care: 74% think it is a big issue. 66% think Furey, health minister Tom Osborne, and health deputy leprechaun Pat Parfrey are the village idiots - to borrow an old Pat-ism - when handling it.
Affordable housing: 43% think it’s a big problem. 70% think whatever Furey and his mob are up to is failing.
And on stuff the government pork machine spits out news releases regularly, like road paving, almost half thought the government was doing a poor or very poor job.
Ah but look at education, you say. 50% think they are doing a great job. Sure, but only 4% of respondents thought this was a big issue.
These kinds of numbers take hard work, dedication, and skill at the craft of sucking.
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Go back a few months to a poll after COVID and you will see the same sort of thing. On stuff no one cares about - like aboriginal relations or education - the government gets great marks. On stuff that they are most concerned about Furey and the Liberals suck.
25% of respondents to the Abacus poll thought jobs and the economy was a top issue. It’s the fourth highest one. But the it’s intimately connected to the cost of living sand affordable housing, for sure. So not an inconsequential thing. Yet only 28% of people thought the government was doing an acceptable job while 50% thought they were crap at it.
All of that explains why, when facing a leaderless mob in the Pea Seas, the Liberals get a meh on public satisfaction with half thinking its an ok job and half think it’s not with almost a third saying they have no opinion. It takes skill to be this bad in the polls and the Liberals have been living here for eight years.
The party vote choice reflects the same thing. Liberals dominate the over 60 age group but the Pea Seas own the 45 to 59s, another group with a high likelihood of voting. The 30 to 44s are evenly split. We don’t know for sure how big the undecided is but that would give the Pea Seas a potential pile of votes they could win since inevitably some likely voters are in that pile waiting to see how the wind blows closer to an actual polling day.
Meanwhile, the Pea Sea leadership is turning up some predictable numbers. No one is paying attention, which is really bad for the party. That means their current support is *not* coming from any attachment to any of the existing candidates to lead the party.
That reflects the same political thinking the Liberals have shown, which is to only speak to party members and ignore the wider audience that will count one day. As a rule, they should be running their leaderships like it was a dry run for a general. Instead, they are copying Furey’s strategy. Look how well that turned out. Voters have no attachment to him, just as they have no attachment to the Pea Sea mob.
The result for Furey as with Dwight Ball before him is that his personal numbers are barely ahead of people who most respondents had non-committal reactions when asked. 38% like Furey and 33% don’t but 29% either have no opinion or don’t know enough to say.
With these kinds of numbers, a future Pea Sea Premier cannot count on wider public support if they want to make needed changes. Dwight Ball’s catastrophic fall in the polls within four months of taking office is a direct result not of one string of fumbles after New Year’s 2016 but because he and the Liberals *deliberately* avoided making any connection with voters.
Furey’s continued sucky numbers are the result of the same addled political strategy that ignores everyone else while only talking to the handful of party voters. That could be especially troublesome for Eugene Manning who would come into the job like Andrew Furey, with no experience in elected public office facing a caucus of people who have some figurative grey hair around the temples from being in the trenches for a while.
Not an unfixable problem but it’s one that could have a serious impact on the future campaign and the future government if - like Furey - you just muddle and fumble your way along once you get the job. No one should count out a Pea Sea victory by the way, just because it seems the Pea Sea vote is really tied to the federal Conservative support and there’s not much interest in the local race. The local Blue Team will get federal Blue help and that will do a lot to ensure the Liberals don’t have the easy ride Premier George… err … Andrew Furey might hope for. Nor will lame plays like Tom Osborne’s comments on the carbon tax make a real difference.
The one thing the Liberals have going for them is the apparent strength of Tony Wakeham. If he pulls out a victory, the Liberals can stagger across the finish line with another term in office even with federal Con help. Despite his experience in the House, Wakeham’s performance during the campaign and in the recent televised debate was appallingly bad. He and his team have no ideas other than to copy what the Liberals are doing and saying. There’s no sign they can deliver a campaign worth much even if someone were to tell them what the answers are to the test questions.
The bright spot for the Pea Seas is that among Pea Sea supporters, Eugene Manning is tied with Wakeham. If that somehow translates into a victory, then the fresh face and his team might just be able to give the Liberals enough of a challenge to pull off a win. it wouldn’t be big but a win would be enough to help swing the tide more heavily for the Pea Seas in a second term.
None of that is exciting but maybe we should all do what some Liberals are doing and start trying to guess who will replace Andrew Furey. His departure is not that far off, one way or another.