Day 1: Sun News/Abacus NS Election Tracking Poll – Liberals lead by 22

Download detailed report with tables and analysis

According to a provincial survey of eligible voters in Nova Scotia, the NS Liberal Party leads the NDP by 22 points among committed and leaning voters.

Overall, 29% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party, followed by the NDP at 16%, the PCs at 15%, and the Green Party at 0.4%.  Thirty-five percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided while 5% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for.

Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 48%, followed by the NDP at 26%, and the PCs at 25%.  The Green Party received 1% of the vote.

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

Nova Scotia Election Outlook

With less than a week to go in the Nova Scotia election, the Liberal Party and its leader Stephen McNeil are well positioned to replace Darrell Dexter and the NDP as government in Nova Scotia.

  • The Liberals have a 22-point lead among all committed eligible voters and that lead increases to 25-points among those most likely to vote.
  • Stephen McNeil is the most popular provincial leader in the province with a majority of Nova Scotians having a positive impression and only 22% viewing the Liberal Leader negatively.
  • The Liberal Party is considered the party best able to manage the top issues of concern for Nova Scotians, including the economy and jobs, health care, education, and taxes.  The Liberal Party leads the PC Party and NDP on which party is best at managing the economic situation in Nova Scotia.
  • Almost a majority of Nova Scotians believe the Liberals will win the provincial election.

Despite the positive outlook for the Nova Scotia Liberals, the number of undecided eligible voters remains quite high.  Thirty-five percent of eligible voters said they were undecided, even after being asked if they are leaning towards supporting one party.  Among likely voters, the percentage of undecided voters drops to 29% but is still a significant number and larger than the Liberal Party’s lead.

The road to victory for the NDP or PC Party is daunting, but not impossible at this point.  While there are many undecided voters still, the window of opportunity is closely quickly with less than a week to go in the campaign.

Among all respondents, 12% said they were undecided even after being asked if they are leaning towards one party.

Provincial Vote Intention

Overall, 29% of eligible voters said they plan or have voted for the Liberal Party, followed by the NDP at 16%, the PCs at 15%, and the Green Party at 0.4%.  Thirty-five percent of eligible voters say they are still undecided while 5% of respondents have already voted but refused to identify who they voted for.

Among committed and leaning voters, the Liberals lead with 48%, followed by the NDP at 26%, and the PCs at 25%.  The Green Party received 1% of the vote.

The Liberal lead grows slightly among committed likely voters with 51% saying they are voting or have voted Liberal compared with 26% for the NDP and 23% for the PC Party.

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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 (51%) and the South Shore/Annapolis Valley (52%).

Although the NDP showed their strongest support in Halifax (31%), the Liberals lead in every region of the province.

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 90% of its base of voters from 2009, only 47% 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.

Does Dexter Deserve Re-Election?

Along with his party, Dexter’s personal base of support has shifted away from him.  Overall, 65% of Nova Scotians feel that it’s time for a change, while just 20% said that Dexter deserves to be re-elected, and 15% were unsure.

Significantly, even a majority (52%) of those who voted NDP in the 2009 provincial election felt that Dexter has outlived his time in office, with 41% stating he deserves to be re-elected.

Although Dexter’s strongest demographic support for re-election appeared to be rooted in Halifax (25%), fully 64% of residents there feel it is time for a change.

Top Issue and Best Party to Manage Issue

Respondents were asked to identify the single most important issue facing the province without prompting and then asked which political party they believed could best handle the issue they selected.

Overall, 35% of eligible voters in Nova Scotia believed that jobs or the economy was the most important issue followed by health care related issues (24%), education (9%), and taxes or the HST (9%).  Another 5% of respondents said that electricity rates or energy issues were the most important issues

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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 (20%) and the PC Party (14%).  Overall, 41% of eligible voters were not sure which party would be best on the issue.

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 20%, the PC Party at 9% 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 all 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 asked specifically which party they believed would be able to handle the economic situation in Nova Scotia best, 30% of eligible voters elected the Liberal Party, followed by 17% who selected the PC Party and 16% who selected the NDP.  Twenty-nine percent of respondents were unsure.

The Liberal advantage on the economic management question increases to 17-points among those most likely to vote. 

Best Premier

When respondents were asked which party leader they believed would make the best Premier, the results mirrored the vote intention question.  Thirty-percent of respondents selected Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil while 19% selected incumbent Premier and NDP Leader Darrell Dexter.  PC Leader Jamie Baillie was third at 15% among all eligible voters.  Thirty-five percent of respondents were unsure.

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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.

In contrast, one in three eligible voters in Nova Scotia (35%) had a positive impression of NDP Leader Darrell Dexter while 45% 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.  Almost a majority of eligible voters (49%) believed the Liberal Party would win compared with 12% who selected the NDP and 9% who selected the PC Party.  Twenty-nine percent of respondents were unsure.

Liberal party supporters overwhelmingly believed that the Liberals would win while NDP and PC Party supporters were more divided on their expectations.

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted September 30 to October 1, 2013 among a provincial sample of 500 eligible voters in Nova Scotia.  Interviews were conducted in English and 4,316 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 + 4.5%, 19 times out of 20.  Note, the margin of error in subgroups with small sample sizes is much larger.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.  He’s an avid road cyclist.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248

E: david@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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