What to do if you’re Mike Redmond, leader of the provincial NDP party, and a reporter says they’ve been trying to reach you, but your voicemail is full?
After all, it was only a cup of coffee after that the party seemed to be just this side of comatose with only an occasional pulse.
The NDP failed to field a full slate of candidates in the Oct. 3, 2011 election. The 13 candidates they did attract drew just 3.2 per cent of the votes cast in the 27 ridings.
Back then, getting a call from any reporter make that a call from just about anyone was a thrill. How times have changed. At least, they have according to the latest Corporate Research Associates poll.
True, we’re a long way from the next election it’s Oct. 5, 2015, according to the Election P.E.I. website. And the only poll that really counts is when the voters go to the polls.
Yes, the poll is based on a sample of 300 Islanders, so it’s only considered accurate within plus or minus 5.6 percentage points, 95 times out of 100. Translation: the truth is buried in a fog of uncertainty 11.2 percentage points thick. That’s a lot.
But if you’re Mike Redmond, the numbers released just a few days ago are heady news, nonetheless.
The NDP jumped 11 points in just three months. They now have the backing of 32 per cent of decided voters in the Island, up from 21. The ruling Liberals took one flat on the chin, with their support tumbling from a rosy 52 per cent down to 42.
Pretend it’s the middle of the winter. It’s a howling snowstorm, and you’re in a rush to get out the driveway to go to work OK, to rent enough movies to keep the kids busy because there’s no school.
What’s certain to happen? You get stuck and you’re left spinning your wheels. That’s the Progressive Conservatives. Stuck. They were at 23 per cent the last time the poll was done. They’re at 22 this time.
Notice I said Progressive. Might as well be nice to the third-place party and do what they urged the media to do in an email last month, add the adjective in front of Conservative. It certainly can’t hurt, can it?
The email also asked that Stephen Myers be referred to by his proper title, the interim Progressive Conservative Leader. Can’t say I blame him for wanting that modifier with polling numbers like those. After all, the last full-time leader of the party spent all her time looking over her shoulder because the party’s numbers were so poor.
And it’s not just the party’s numbers.
Redmond seems to have struck a cord with decided voters. He’s the pick of 24 per cent of those polled, up from 15 last time. Liberal leader Robert Ghiz saw his number slide from 38 to 31.
Interim Progressive Conservative leader Myers? He’s at 13 per cent, up from 11 last time. See, behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining. Sort of.
Oh sure, critics will rightly point out, many of those NDP newbies may just be parking their votes with Redmond’s gang because they’re annoyed at the government. Nothing says those polling numbers will turning into real support.
Fair enough. But that’s what they said about the NDP in Quebec before the last federal election and they won 59 of 75 seats there.
Mike Redmond might want to have someone look at his voicemail. He might need to get used to his phone ringing.
- Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.