The polling group found that 34% of decided voters supported the Liberals, 40% backed the PCs, while 24% stood behind the NDP.
Two other statistics offer confirmation that the Liberals are in deep trouble: satisfaction with the government stands at only 28%, while in leader preference Dwight Ball receives 23% support against 36% for PC leader Paul Davis and 16% for Earle McCurdy of the NDP.
In March 2016, the Liberals held 66% support. But by June — following a disastrous Budget — it dropped to 27%. Satisfaction with the Government dropped hard, too, declining from 64% to 21%. The Premier’s personal popularity went from 53% to 18%.
In short, the recent Poll suggests that the government has barely made a dent in its efforts to recover from the 2016 Budget fiasco. The 34% represents, at best, the “core” Liberal vote. It won’t get the government re-elected in an essentially two-party system.
And, as evidenced by the mere 23% popular support the Premier holds onto, he has been bucked from the horse he rode in on. The public is well aware that Ball can’t walk and whistle at the same time; hence the horse needs a new rider.
Had the Liberals been skilful, two ‘anni horribiles’ and the heavy lifting of reducing public spending would have been behind them. The general public might have felt wounded but the public service would be sleeker; the health care and education systems would be too. The power generation side of the Muskrat Falls project would have been put on ice and a battle begun to send Emera packing. Instead, the Nalcor CEO will soon confirm the cost increases and schedule slippage already noted by the so-called oversight committee.
Rural NL, too, would have been given a new instruction booklet about what overly dependent communities can expect in a province driven to penury.
If not actual support, the Liberals might at least be enjoying respect for having displayed leadership at a difficult time. Respect is a worthy and enduring platform on which to build. A deservedly pilloried Tory Party would, by now, have been driven out of town.
Instead, the PCs are atop the polls, even if all of that could change when the Liberal caucus finally shows Ball the door.
The public must be pinching themselves — wondering why the Liberal caucus would have picked up where the Tories left off, and why they so often end up with dysfunctional government.
Had Ball a few strong Ministers, the vigil on galloping incompetence might be less painful.
In the 1970s Frank Moores was found AWOL for long stretches of the year, allowing his passion for salmon fishing to interfere with his public duties. The Liberal Opposition — and the media (back in the days when public littering and potholes didn’t lead the news) — pilloried him. But he had a Cabinet consisting of Peckford, Crosbie, Marshall, and others who made the operation of government at least seem seamless.
Which of the current Ministers have the capacity to cover for this feckless Premier?
Cathy Bennett, having delivered an essentially “fake” budget following last year’s fiasco, wasting precious months on a “zero-based” PR exercise and saving pennies, when the budget needed an axe? Her inconsistency about our spending problem and her willingness to accept the propaganda wall erected by the PR staff of Executive Council — diminishing Finance staff in the process — warrants derision and the cynicism of what, otherwise, might have been a patient public.
Siobhan Coady? The still neophyte Minister who can’t offer a coherent cover story for why the Government won’t investigate deceit and possible malfeasance on a grand scale — of a Tory administration!
Gerry Byrne? Perry Trimper?
How can so many be so mismatched for a career they sought and in whom the public put their faith?
Even Justice Minister Andrew Parsons, the one with the safest perch in Cabinet, can’t find terms of endearment with a public desperately seeking leadership. As much as he may think otherwise, innovation and courage are not demonstrated by donning a guard’s uniform to work a shift at HMP, as he did recently. A week spent in solitary would have been a better choice — to reflect on why he has failed to follow through on the Humber Valley Paving Inquiry and to think about finding a way to keep his party from the brink of Armageddon.
A failed government has allowed vastly undeserved attention to be given to an unrepentant, ill-suited, uninspired Paul Davis. When the last remnant of failed leadership is the most popular elected leader, is it not time to ask: why has our politics gone so terribly wrong?
The Tories have so far attracted only Ches Crosbie — who has been handed several kites, including the falsification issue. But Ches, so far, refuses to fly, giving attention to timing rather than the core issue, integrity, doubts about which threaten his Party and the whole province.
The NDP - if they ever plan to get into the game — hope that someday voters will strike their heads on the way to the Polling Station and suddenly decide to vote for them.
If the Province was well run — on remote — who would care? But it is in a dastardly state and it needs real leadership, now.
Ball likely knows he is finished. But someone so dithering and ill-suited to his office won’t make a single selfless decision. He will have to be shown the door.
As oil prices continue their decline — and the gloss on Cathy Bennett’s Budget loses its shine — a few in the Liberal caucus should be planning a fall offensive, starting from within.
Of course, that is wishful thinking.
The Liberal caucus simply does not possess the gravitas or unity of purpose to countenance real change. As both they and recent Tory administrations have underscored, ours is not a question of ideology. Our problem is that we have a system of governance which is completely vulnerable to influence and abuse.
Nor have we figured out how to create a braking mechanism in our politics to guard against electing fools. And, as we know, fools attract scoundrels. Both groups abhor oversight — so we have none.
For those, and other reasons too, the CRA Poll, giving a big lead to Paul Davis, describes a voting population lacking hope.
And this absence of hope is what best describes the state of play of our politics.