If we accept the straightforward view that surveys are accurate forecasts, the provincial NDP should be feeling quite disheartened.
As reported Monday by the CBC, the latest poll from Corporate Research Associates on political preferences shows the Nova Scotia Liberals well out in front, with 45 per cent saying they would vote for them if an election were held today. That compares with 26 per cent support for both the NDP and the Conservatives.
Leader preference reflects a similar picture, with the Liberals’ Stephen McNeil tops at 31 per cent and Premier Darrell Dexter and Conservative Jamie Baillie tied at 18 per cent.
It’s not encouraging news for the governing party, which is expected to call an election relatively soon, although it could theoretically be put off for a year.
On the other hand, political polls in other parts of Canada notoriously got their predictions wildly wrong in a couple of recent provincial elections. In British Columbia last month, with the NDP poised for a win according to the numbers, the incumbent Liberals manage to steal a majority victory. Similarly in Alberta last year, with polling stats showing it was the Wild Rose Party’s election to lose, the Conservatives still managed to return to government.
The apparent explanation in both cases, partly at least, was that the undecided voters in days leading up to the election turned the tide, supporting the devil they knew. At any rate, observers were astounded at what appeared to be upsets.
Hard to say what could happen in Nova Scotia, but the poll in question found 55 per cent when asked had no preference or refused to state it. Corporate Research Associates also noted that number is high when an election can’t be far away.
There is of course another explanation for not stating a preference, in that scads of people are simply not engaged in the political process, or are fed up.
With little time left, the NDP are doubtless gauging how they can appeal to that segment.