P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz may have surprised the Island by announcing last month he will resign in the new year, but he does not appear to have scared away voter support for his party.
Quarterly poll results from Corporate Research Associates released Monday show support for the Liberal party of P.E.I. has remained steady this quarter at 50 per cent and a majority of voters, 54 per cent, are satisfied with the Ghiz government.
Ghiz announced his resignation right in the middle of the polling period, and yet his personal popularity is higher than it has been all year at 41 per cent – a five point jump since August.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Progressive Conservatives dropped five points to rest at 23 per cent in party support.
Also the percentage of Islanders dissatisfied with the provincial government led by Robert Ghiz dropped by three points to 39 per cent.
Margaret Brigley, president and COO of Corporate Research Associates (CRA), said this poll shows Ghiz has left his party and the Liberal government in good shape.
“I think Premier Ghiz has timed his departure to really give time for the party to be in a good position for the next election,” Brigley said.
The numbers also mean the Tories have not gained the traction they have been working to acquire.
“It really suggests that the Opposition continues to struggle to offer that effective alternative,” Brigley said.
Often when political leaders resign, poll numbers shift to show more undecided voters who wait on the sidelines to see what will happen, says UPEI political scientist Don Desserud.
That does not appear to be the case in P.E.I.
“This poll was done before Wade MacLauchlan put his name forward (for Liberal leadership) so the uncertainty factor is high, but it has not translated into a big jump in undecided votes, it’s pretty well the same,” Desserud said.
He echoed Brigley’s assessment that this is a bad news poll for the Opposition PC party.
“The Conservatives are still not able to benefit from any kind of dissatisfaction with the Liberals or any kind of uncertainty with the Liberals,” Desserud said.
“It’s a pretty good news poll for the Liberals because it shows that even not knowing who the leader is, there is still a lot of confidence that the party is going to move forward.”
NDP Leader Mike Redmond remains the second most popular party leader at 17 per cent, down one point this quarter. His party also lost one point, now standing in third place at 15 per cent of decided voters.
Redmond has polled higher than Interim PC party leader Steven Myers all year. Myers is down one point since August with 13 per cent of Islanders saying they prefer him as premier.
Support for the Green party jumped from seven per cent to 11 per cent this quarter, which is the second consecutive four-point jump for the party this year.
Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker held steady in personal popularity at five per cent.
The percentage of Islanders who refused to state a party preference or who are undecided dropped slightly from 38 to 35 per cent.
Results are based on a telephone survey of 300 adult Prince Edward Islanders conducted between Nov. 5 and Nov. 25, 2014 with overall results accurate to within plus or minus 5.7 percentage points, 95 times out of 100.
The margin of error for voters who specified their political party preference is higher, as it is based on a sample size of only 189 voters.
Party results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 7.1 per cent.