NL Election Kick-Off: Liberals storm to a 47-point lead. It Isn’t About the Economy.

Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson


Coming off of a Liberal sweep of Newfoundland and Labrador in October’s Federal Election, provincial Liberals in Newfoundland and Labrador have stormed into a 47-point lead province-wide in our latest survey of 800 eligible voters in the province.

Liberal support is at 66% compared with 19% for the PCs and 15% for the NDP. The 13-point rise in support for the Liberals comes largely at the expense of the NDP, which has lost 10 points since our last survey.


The NL Liberals lead by a wide margin in every region of the province including in Avalon/St. John’s where in June, we saw a much closer race.


To put these results in context, in the last provincial election, the Conservatives won a large majority of 37 seats with 56% of the vote.

The provincial Liberal support number is virtually identical to the support received by the federal Liberal Party (65%) in the election held on October 19.

Notably, 72% of those who voted for Justin Trudeau say they are voting for the NL Liberals. The NL NDP is only holding 51% of those who voted for the NDP federally while the NL PC Party are only earning the support of 49% of those who voted for the federal Conservative Party in October.


Accessible Voters

Not only has Liberal ballot support grown since June, but so has its pool of accessible voters. 73% of eligible voters in NL say they would consider voting Liberal, up 9 since June. The Liberal pool is almost twice as large as the NDP or PC accessible voter pools (37% and 32% respectively). The NDP pool is down 13-points since June.

Again, it is worth noting that the support level for the provincial NDP has followed a pattern similar to that of the federal NDP, with a sharp rise earlier in the year and then a significant drop more recently.


Direction of the Province

Remarkably, given the challenges facing the incumbents in this election, most think that the province is headed in the right direction, a view that has not really changed since June.

The desire for change in the province remains strong, with 85% wanting change and 60% saying they definitely want a change in government. These numbers are some 15 points higher than the expressed desire for change we measured in the federal election, which of course resulted in a defeat for the incumbents.


Among those who definitely want a change in government, 68% are voting Liberal, 18% are voting NDP, and 11% are undecided at this point. The massive Liberal lead is built on the fact that it has consolidated those who want change.


Top Issues

Respondents were asked, unprompted, to name the most important issue facing Newfoundland and Labrador. The economy and health care were the top issues mentioned, largely unchanged since June. It appears that the budget deficit has receded a bit in top of mind importance.


Leadership: Ball now 18 points ahead of Davis

Dwight Ball remains the most popular political leader in the province with 50% having a positive impression of the Liberal leader and only 10% saying they have a negative impression of him. Since our last survey, Mr. Ball’s personal numbers are up 6 points while PC Leader Paul Davis’ ratings have held steady. Meanwhile, NDP leader Earle McCurdy’s personal numbers have dropped by 10 points since June to 26%, below Mr. Davis.


Who Voters Think Will Win

When asked who they think will win the provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador on November 30th, the Liberals were selected by 75% of eligible voters in Newfoundland and Labrador, a 10-point increase since June. Even a majority of PC and NDP voters think the Liberals will win the election.


The Economy in Newfoundland and Labrador

While voting intentions are weak for the PC Party, voters are feeling relatively good about the state of the economy and the performance of the incumbent government in managing it. 63% describe the economy in NL as either very good or good, and 51% think the provincial government has done a good job managing the economy.

The problem for the PCs is that only 32% of those who think the government has done a good job managing the economy are planning on voting PC, evidence that the desire for change is overshadowing any other perceptions or attitudes towards the Davis government.


The Upshot

As the 2015 Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election begins, the Liberal Party led by Dwight Ball is in a very solid position to defeat the incumbent Progressive Conservative Government.

This election, at least about the outset, is not about the economy, nor is it a function of deep unpopularity of the current Premier.

A majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans think the province is headed in the right direction and that the provincial government has done a good job managing the economy. And only 25% have a negative feeling about Premier Davis.

Nevertheless, 85% want a change in government including 60% saying they definitely want change. Only 9% think it would be definitely best to keep the PCs in power.

The confluence of this mood for change with a good affinity for the Liberal brand and Mr. Ball personally, means the Liberals are heavy favourites to win the election.

While campaigns can always bring unexpected disruptions and shifts, the challenges facing the Conservatives and the NDP are very significant according to this poll. And there seems little doubt that part of the wind in the sails of the provincial Liberals has something to do with the recent success of their federal cousins. The opposite effect is in evidence for the NDP.


The random live-interview telephone survey was conducted with 800 eligible voters living in Newfoundland and Labrador. The survey was completed from October 30 to November 4, 2015.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 800 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was statistically weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched population of Newfoundland and Labrador. The tables within this report detail the weighted and unweighted counts for the sample.

Note the small sample sizes when reviewing results in subgroups.

For more information about the poll’s methodology or the results, please contact David Coletto, CEO at or at 613-232-2806.

Abacus Data Inc.

We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and value added insight. Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, PhD. For more information, visit our website at

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