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EDITORIAL: Poll Dancing

Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, left, and Premier and Liberal party leader Wade MacLauchlan, right, in these Guardian file photos. Bevan-Baker enjoys a considerable edge over MacLauchlan, with 37 per cent saying they would prefer Bevan-Baker as premier.
Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, left, and Premier and Liberal party leader Wade MacLauchlan. - SaltWire File Photo

It’s easy to roll your eyes and say it’s just another poll.

And follow that with the standard line that polls don’t mean anything. It’s what happens on election day that matters.

But if you’re the governing Liberal party looking at the latest Corporate Research Associates’ poll, it’s time for some sole searching.

The Liberals led the way in popular support in CRA’s February 2018 poll with 42 per cent. Since then, things have gone from bad to worse with the Liberals tumbling to third place among decided voters.

That’s not a ringing endorsement for a governing party.

The Liberals are now looking up at the second-place Progressive Conservative party.

The timing of the poll is important. Taken between Feb. 4 and Feb. 24, it’s the same time Dennis King was elected new PC party leader, which can explain the surge to second place. It was also the same time frame that King was marred in a very public controversy over his past Twitter posts.

This should have negated any gains by the PC party, but it didn’t. So here we are, wondering how they were able to pass the Liberals with that controversy on voters’ minds.

UPEI political scientist Peter McKenna says it’s time for the Liberals to replace Wade MacLauchlan as party leader.

It was only four years ago that MacLauchlan led the party to a majority government and 40.83 per cent of the popular vote.

It’s easy to criticize the recent CRA results since only 301 people were polled.

Fair enough. But the same people aren’t being polled each time, and the numbers for the Liberals have been less than ideal for a while.

If we see truth in the Liberals’ demise, then must we also see truth in the possibility of the Green party winning the next election?

In the past year, Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker has also been the preferred choice for premier over MacLauchlan in the CRA polls.

So, it’s possible, but unless we’re in a riding with one of the party leaders as a candidate, we’re not directly voting for the party leader. And, the polls don’t show how voters feel about each candidate in every district.

With MacLauchlan, we’re getting a little late in the game for a leadership change with an election call possibly coming as early as the spring.

And, as far as we know, there are no plans in place for a leadership review.

But if the next poll shows the Liberals still lagging behind in third place and MacLauchlan trailing as the preferred choice for premier once again, the party may not have a choice but to take a look at its leadership.

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