A new poll by Narrative Research indicates the federal Conservatives are the preferred party among decided voters on P.E.I., even though Islanders may be wary of leader Andrew Scheer.
The poll found that the Conservatives were the preferred party of 40 per cent of decided voters, while Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were the choice of 35 per cent. However, the Conservative lead has narrowed from May, when another Narrative Research poll found Conservative support at 42 per cent to the Liberals 32 per cent. Elizabeth May’s Green Party is favoured by 21 per cent of voters, down slightly from 22 per cent in May. Jagmeet Singh’s NDP maintained the support of three per cent of Island voters, down from four per cent in May.
A total of 37 per cent of voters remain undecided.
However, Justin Trudeau remains the preferred Prime Minister of Island voters. Thirty per cent of voters chose Trudeau, compared to 26 per cent who chose Scheer. Elizabeth May was the top choice of 21 per cent of voters, while Jagmeet Singh was the preferred choice of three per cent.
“Findings suggest that Andrew Scheer failed to build momentum in the region this past quarter, despite increased scrutiny on the Liberal Party over the SNC-Lavalin affair,” Narrative Research CEO Margaret Brigley said.
“Andrew Scheer appears to be a liability in limiting the support for the party.”
Polling from Narrative Research indicates that the SNC-Lavalin scandal has taken a toll on voters in P.E.I., a province often viewed as a reliable base for the federal Liberals. In May of 2018, the Liberals had a commanding lead among voters, at 46 per cent while the Conservatives were the choice of 27 per cent and the Greens were the choice of 19 per cent.
While public support between the two traditional parties has fluctuated in the last year, it remains to be seen what effect the draw of a stronger Green party will have on P.E.I.
"From a Green party perspective, I would think that it is primarily pulling from the Liberals," Bigley said.
Across the Atlantic region, the federal Liberals appear to have reversed the decline in public support seen since the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke earlier this year. Support for the Liberals stood at 43 per cent of decided voters, up from 39 per cent in May, while Conservative support dropped to 30 per cent from 36 per cent in May. The Greens were the choice of 15 per cent of voters, while the NDP was the choice of 10 per cent.
The poll found that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were solidly in the lead among decided voters across the Atlantic Canadian region, at 31 per cent to Scheer’s Conservatives 21 per cent.
Support for the Greens stood at 15 per cent while the NDP’s support stood at 10 per cent.
“Findings suggest that in the Maritimes, the NDP may be replaced by the Greens as the main alternative to the Liberals or Conservatives,” Brigley said.
“But in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Green party has not successfully established itself and the NDP has gained traction as the third party of choice.”
Unlike other federal polling in Atlantic Canada, the Narrative Research poll may have captured some of the impact of the release of the ethics commissioner report, which found that Justin Trudeau breached the Conflict of Interest Act in his dealings with SNC-Lavalin. The poll was conducted between July 31 and Aug. 22.
"This would suggest that the report itself, again, was not necessarily detrimental," Brigley said, referring to public support for the Liberals.
The poll was conducted with 1,500 Atlantic Canadian residents, including 300 in P.E.I. The margin of error for questions of party support for decided voters on the Island was +/- 7.1 per cent. The margin of error for questions of party support across the entire Atlantic region was +/- 3.2 per cent.
Another poll by MQO Research, conducted in early August, found Liberal support to be at 40 per cent of decided voters, compared to 34 per cent for the Conservatives and 21 per cent for the Greens.