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UPDATE: P.E.I. Greens maintain lead, Liberals slip below PC’s in latest opinion poll

Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker delivers a speech during the party’s annual general meeting last month. The party has become the most popular political force on the Island, according to recent polling. - Stu Neatby
Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker delivers a speech during the party’s annual general meeting last month. The party has become the most popular political force on the Island, according to recent polling. - Stu Neatby

P.E.I.’s Green party has widened its lead over other parties in the latest opinion poll, while Wade MacLauchlan’s Liberals dropped to third place behind a potentially rebounding Progressive Conservative party.

The latest poll from Corporate Research Associates has placed the Liberals in third place for the first time among decided voters, dropping from 36 per cent public support last November to 27 per cent.

The PCs have increased their share of support, rising from 20 per cent in November to 29 per cent.

The Greens, meanwhile, have maintained their position as the most popular political party in the province, rising slightly from 37 per cent support in November to 38 per cent support.

The NDP was down slightly in public support, dropping from six per cent last November to four per cent.

Margaret Brigley, CEO of CRA, said the new poll indicates the electorate is hungry for change.

"It suggests that, perhaps after a third term of Liberal government, perhaps the public is ready for a change," Brigley said.

The poll was conducted by telephone with 301 P.E.I. residents between Feb. 4 and 24 and has an overall margin of error of 5.7 percentage points, 95 times out of 100.

However, the questions about party preference, which had a sample size of 202 decided voters, had a margin of error of 6.9 percentage points.

A media release from CRA included a note of caution about the swing of voter intention from Liberals to PCs, noting they “should be treated with caution” due to the small sample size.

The poll noted 26 per cent of voters remain undecided, while five per cent refused to indicate their voting preference. Three per cent said they did not plan to vote.

"Historically, if government satisfaction falls below that 50 per cent (mark), the likelihood of re-election is low."
-Margaret Brigley

Brigley said the clear swings in votes away from Liberals are beyond the poll’s margin of error.

"To say that the Liberals are losing support is a correct assumption. And this would suggest that it would be both to the Green party and potentially the PC party as well," Brigley said.

The poll is the first to be released following the election of Dennis King as PC leader.

However, when asked about their preference of party leaders, King’s support was lower than that of the PC party. Fifteen per cent of decided voters chose King as their preferred leader, up from 12 per cent for James Aylward in November, while 20 per cent chose Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan, down from 24 per cent. Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker continues to be the most popular political leader in P.E.I. at 37 per cent support, a figure unchanged since November.

In terms of overall satisfaction 51 per cent of voters were either completely or mostly satisfied with the performance of the MacLauchlan-led government, down from 57 per cent in November.

Brigley suggested this should concern the MacLauchlan government.

"Historically, if government satisfaction falls below that 50 per cent (mark), the likelihood of re-election is low," she said.

Peter McKenna, chairman of the UPEI political science department, believes the latest poll numbers are devastating for the premier.

"The Liberal party needs to make a change. I'd say they need to seriously think about choosing a new leader for the party and pushing the election date back," McKenna said.

"They can't win with Wade MacLauchlan."

McKenna said he was skeptical about the increase in PC support. He said the fact that only 15 per cent of voters chose King as their preferred leader does not bode well for the party.

However, he believes the possibility of a Green majority government is becoming more likely.

"The only party that's been holding at that level of support, at 38 per cent, consistently over the last two years, has been the Green party. So, their support is rock solid," he said.

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