The Prince Edward Island Liberal Party currently sits at 38 per cent in decided voter support, continuing a downward slide in the polls over the last year. Year-over-year the party is down 20 points.
The Liberal party has not seen its support levels drop below 40 per cent in provincial polls conducted by Corporate Research Associates (CRA) in more than a decade.
The Opposition PC party is up seven points this quarter and currently is tied for second with the P.E.I. Green party at 26 per cent. The NDP also saw a small gain of three points and is at 10 per cent.
A quarter of Islanders surveyed said they were undecided, which is virtually unchanged since the last CRA poll was conducted in January.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s personal popularity also continued its downward trend, dropping a further five points this quarter to sit at 24 per cent. Year-over-year he has lost 14 points in personal support.
Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker remains the most popular party leader in P.E.I., increasing his support this quarter by three points to 37 per cent.
Interim PC Leader Jamie Fox also saw a bit of a bump, going from 12 to 15 per cent between January and May. NDP Leader Mike Redmond went up two points to sit at six per cent.
It’s not the news the premier appears to have been hoping for.
Last month, Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy mistakenly tabled an email exchange in the legislature revealing MacLauchlan had directed his cabinet to find “good news announcements” to roll out during this polling period.
Sure enough, the announcements began rolling out during the polling time frame, often several a day, including even one of the suggested items listed Mundy’s emails.
But political scientist Don Desserud says it’s important to remember that while the Liberal party numbers may be down now, the next election is still almost two years away.
“I find mid-term polls to be of some value but not of tremendous value, there’s just too much time before the next election.”
He says the MacLauchlan government could see this as a silver lining by using this time of poor support to get any other unpopular initiatives out of the way now, while there is still time to rebuild.
Meanwhile opinion appears to be split down the middle when it comes to government satisfaction levels. One-half of P.E.I. residents, 49 per cent said they are satisfied, while the other half, 48 per cent, said they are dissatisfied.
Desserud says this shows Islanders have not lost confidence in the MacLauchlan government. But the Liberals have reason to be concerned, given the 10 years the party has been in power, Desserud said.
“They must be looking at that next election with some trepidation because history suggests that people at that point will be looking for a change.”
He suggested the MacLauchlan government needs a “big ticket item” to try to turn things around.
“They still don’t have the big ticket item that they can point to and say, ‘This is what we did and this is why this place is better than when we started in 2015,’” Desserud said.
“The change that came forward in 2015 by having a new leader that wasn’t carrying the baggage of any of the members of cabinet, that helped them significantly in 2015, but that’s not going to work again in 2019 so they need something else.”
The results of this poll are based on a sample of 304 adult Prince Edward Islanders, conducted May 9 to June 1 with overall results accurate to within plus or minus 5.6 percentage points, 95 out of 100 times.