Day 2: Sun News/Abacus NS Election Tracking Poll – Liberals lead by 19

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According to a provincial survey of eligible voters in Nova Scotia, the NS Liberal Party leads the NDP by 19 points among committed and leaning voters. 

Overall, 32% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party, followed by the NDP at 18%, the PCs at 14%, and the Green Party at 0.4%.  Thirty-two percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided while 5% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for.  All observed changes are inside the margin of error for the survey.

Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 48%, followed by the NDP at 29%, and the PCs at 22%.  The Green Party received 1% of the vote.  Compared with yesterday’s poll, the observed change is marginal and inside the margin of error for the survey.

Among all eligible voters surveyed, 11% said they have already voted in the election.

Nova Scotia Election Outlook

Today’s results are very similar to those reported yesterday.  There have been small marginal shifts in vote intention, leader evaluations, and top issue.

The Liberal Party remains well positioned in the Nova Scotia provincial election.  Among all committed voters, it leads the NDP by 19 percentage points, has the most popular leader, and is considered best able to manage the economic situation in Nova Scotia.

Not only does the Liberal Party lead province-wide up it has large leads over the other parties on Cape Breton, in the Northern region of the province, and in the Annapolis Valley / South Shore region.  In the HRM, Liberals also have a small lead over the NDP.

The Liberals also lead among other subgroups including men, women, all age groups, and levels of education.

Provincial Vote Intention

Overall, 31% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party, followed by the NDP at 18%, the PCs at 14%, and the Green Party at 0.4%.  Thirty-two percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided while 5% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for.  All observed changes are inside the margin of error for the survey.

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Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 48%, followed by the NDP at 29%, and the PCs at 22%.  The Green Party received 1% of the vote.  Compared with yesterday’s poll, the observed change is marginal and inside the margin of error for the survey.

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Subgroup Analysis

Regionally, the NS Liberals are strongest outside of Halifax, where they hold a majority of support in the North (54%) and the South Shore/Annapolis Valley (55%). With three days of interviews our confidence in the regional numbers is significantly improved.

The race in Halifax Regional Municipality is much closer with the Liberals barely edging the NDP 42% to 35%.

Support for the Nova Scotia Liberals remained strong across demographic groups, where the party showed strong, double-digit leads over the second and third-place NDP and Conservatives in all age groups and among both males and females.

Of particular note is the shift in support from the 2009 provincial election.  While the Liberal party has managed to retain about nine in ten voters from 2009, only 49% of those who voted NDP in the previous provincial election indicated that they would support the party again this time with the bulk of switchers now voting for the Liberal Party.  If the NDP hopes to stage a comeback in the next five days of the campaign, it must reconnect with past voters and convince them that they deserve to be re-elected.

 

Does Dexter Deserve Re-Election?

Along with his party, Dexter’s personal base of support has shifted away from him.  Overall, 62% of Nova Scotians feel that it’s time for a change (down 3 points since yesterday), while just 23% said that Dexter deserves to be re-elected (up 3 points), and 15% were unsure.

Significantly, almost a majority (49%) of those who voted NDP in the 2009 provincial election felt that Dexter has outlived his time in office, with 43% stating he deserves to be re-elected.

Even in Halifax, where NDP support is strongest, only 28% of eligible voters in the region think the NDP and Darrell Dexter deserve to be re-elected.

Top Issue and Best Party to Manage Issue

Jobs and the economy, health care, education and taxes remain the most important issues facing Nova Scotia according to eligible voters in Nova Scotia.

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Among those with an opinion about which party was able to handle the four top issues, the Liberal Party was most likely to be selected as best able to handle the issue.

Of the 35% of eligible voters who mentioned the economy or jobs, 26% believed the Liberal Party was best able to deal with the issue followed by the NDP (22%) and the PC Party (16%).  Overall, 36% of eligible voters were not sure which party would be best on the issue.  While the economy is the single most important issue in the campaign, none of the parties have a significant advantage among those who care the most about the issue to mention it unprompted in our survey.

Among the one in four Nova Scotians that selected health care as their top issue, the Liberal Party was chosen as best to handle the issue by 27% followed by the NDP at 18%, the PC Party at 10% while 45% of those who believed health care was the top issue were unsure which party was best.

The Liberal Party also had an advantage among those who believed education, taxes, and electricity rates were the top issues facing Nova Scotia.

It is clear that on issue positioning, the Liberals have an advantage on most of the key issues.  Neither the NDP nor the PC Party have a clear issue advantage on any issue of prominence for eligible voters.

Most Trusted on the Economy

When all respondents were asked specifically which party they believed would be able to handle the economic situation in Nova Scotia best, 31% of eligible voters elected the Liberal Party, followed by 19% who selected the NDP Party and 16% who selected the PCs.  Twenty-six percent of respondents were unsure.

These numbers are largely unchanged from yesterday’s poll.

Best Premier

Overall, virtually no statistically significant changes were observed between October 1st and 2nd regarding who Nova Scotians think would make the best Premier.  When respondents were asked which party leader they believed would make the best Premier, the results again mirrored the vote intention question.  Thirty-two percent of respondents selected Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil while 21% selected incumbent Premier and NDP Leader Darrell Dexter.  PC Leader Jamie Baillie was third at 15% among all eligible voters.  However, uncertainty remained consistently above 30%.

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Overall Party Leader Impressions

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil is not only the leader most likely to be selected as “Best Premier” but he is also the most popular party leader in Nova Scotia.  A majority of eligible voters (53%) had a positive impression of the Stephen McNeil compared with only 22% who had a negative impression.

Just over one in three eligible voters in Nova Scotia (37%) had a positive impression of incumbent NDP Leader Darrell Dexter while 44% had a negative impression.

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Likely Election Winner

Finally, respondents were asked which political party they believed would ultimately win the Nova Scotia provincial election.  A majority of voters (52%) believed that the Liberal Party will win the election, while only 12% felt the NDP will win.

However, on October 1st, 32% of NDP supporters felt the Liberals would win the election; today’s tracking showed that support shift back.  On October 2nd, 22% of NDP supporters felt the Liberals will win, with 57% feeling the NDP will hold on to leadership.

Although not reflected in the overall figures, this change may signal an internal change in confidence amongst NDP supporters and could have an impact on voter turnout.

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted September 30 to October 2, 2013 among a provincial sample of 700 eligible voters in Nova Scotia.  Interviews were conducted in English and 6,116 telephone numbers were dialed.   Each evening up to and including Sunday October 6 (except for Friday evening), 200 to 250 interviews will be conducted with a random sample of eligible voters in Nova Scotia.   The results of the poll will be released on Battleground with David Akin on the Sun News Network each evening at 7pm AT / 6pm ET.

Likely voters were identified by creating a six-point scale based on seven questions about a respondents interest in politics, their intention to vote, whether they have voted already, and the attention they have paid to the election campaign. 

The data was statistically weighted according to the 2011 Census according to age, region, gender, and education.  The margin of error for this survey is + 3.8%, 19 times out of 20.  Note, the margin of error in subgroups with small sample sizes is much larger.

The survey was commissioned by the Sun News Network.  For more information about the poll’s methodology or the results, please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or at 613-232-2806.