26 November 2015

Abacus poll confirms massive Liberal lead #nlpoli

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador awoke Thursday to a massive sucking noise as amateur pundits, media commentators, and newsrooms across the province realised they’d read way too much into a single poll on Wednesday.

A new Abacus Data poll shows the Liberal are actually on track to sweep the entire House of Assembly.  The results contradict a lone poll by  Forum Research that had the Conservative miraculously closing the gap with the Liberals.

Never happened, as it turned out.  Every other poll taken during the campaign lines with the latest Abacus poll.  What’s more  the behaviour of the Tory and Dipper campaigns confirms what serious political watchers already knew:  Paul Davis and Earle McCurdy are desperately trying to save the furniture in the face of a potential Liberal tsunami.

The Leaders

The provincial election campaign a decidedly nastier turn on Monday. Conservative leader Paul Davis is trying his best to save the party’s furniture.

Davis’ best is nasty stuff.

Davis called Dwight Ball a liar.

Rarely does one politician openly attack another using words like that.  They try to remain civil and respectful.  Davis is the first Premier since Confederation who, facing imminent defeat at the polls, has thrown any trace of decency out the window.

25 November 2015

Selling energy assets a good thing: Danny Williams #nlpoli


“It was a previous Liberal government that wanted to actually privatize Hydro. This particular government wants to strengthen Hydro, wants to make it a very valuable corporation: a corporation that will ultimately pay significant dividends back to the people of this Province; a corporation that perhaps some day may have enough value in its assets overall as a result of the Hebron deal and the White Rose deal, possible Hibernia deal, possible deals on gas, possible deals on oil refineries and other exploration projects, where hopefully we might be able to sell it some day and pay off all the debt of this Province, and that would be a good thing.”

Premier Danny Williams, House of Assembly, 30 April 2008


The CRA poll in Election 2015 #nlpoli

Corporate Research Associates’ latest poll is in line with polls by MQO and Abacus.

The table below shows CRA’s quarterly poll results since the last provincial election with the CRA “decideds” skew taken out.CRA Q4-15

Liberals are at 50% of all respondents, with the Conservatives at 16% and the NDP at seven with 26% undecided or giving no answer.

24 November 2015

The parties and Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

The mighty Muskrat Falls turned up a few times in the leaders’ debate on Monday night.

Now that the project’s huge problems are plainer,  folks like Earle McCurdy of the New Democratic Party are working hard to capture the anti-Muskrat vote.  They’d like you to believe that the NDP opposes the project.

The truth is that all three three political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador support Muskrat Falls. 

No party wants to stop the project.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

But for the fun of it, let’s go through this old chestnut again, in detail.

23 November 2015

The Debate #nlpoli

The only winner in the debate was David Cochrane. 

He’s no Paul Wells but he did a fine job of wrangling the three leaders.

And that’s the problem for the politicians. 

Real people were talking about the fact the neutral guy didn’t frig up like the guy on the other network.  The other folks – all the party h’acktivists on Twitter  - were just talking about how their guy won, which they were saying before the thing started.

If debates matter at all in Canadian elections, this one was a must win for Earle McCurdy or Paul Davis. They needed to score big points on Dwight Ball in order to stand even a vague hope of shifting a few votes in the last week of the campaign.

Neither did.

Methylmercury and Muskrat Falls #nlpoli

Muskrat Falls has been the big issue in two successive elections.

In 2011, the parties wanted to talk about the project, while voters didn’t.  It never showed up in the list of any Top Five issues for voters.

The parties wanted to talk about Muskrat Falls because it was something they all agreed on.  The 2011 election was a good example of an election in which the three parties ignored what the voters wanted to talk about and chattered instead among themselves.

Well, in 2015,  Muskrat Falls and its impact on the economy is a huge issue but none of the parties want to talk about it.  The best they’ve done is insist that non-existent export sales will help keep electricity prices low.  It wasn’t true in 2011 and it certainly is nonsense now.

Another Muskrat Falls issue turned up recently and it could prove to be one of the most significant things so far.

20 November 2015

The Undull Election #nlpoli

The only people who think this is a dull election don’t know anything about politics.


On the day before nominations closed for candidates,  the governing provincial Conservatives admitted on Thursday that they probably won’t have a full slate of candidates.  Reporters were quick to remind everyone that we haven’t seen that situation since 1972.

That was the year the Conservatives won a majority government and put an end to 23 years of uninterrupted rule by the Liberals under Joe Smallwood. That was also the first time since Confederation that we’d had a change of political party governing the province.  The second one of the two in the 20th century came in 1989.

Think about that for a second.  In the 40 years after Confederation we changed governing parties precisely twice.  Come December we will have done precisely the same thing within the first 15 years of the new century.

19 November 2015

Kicking ass in political coverage #nlpoli

The province’s major media outlets have taken different approaches to political coverage in this election from what they did last time.

The result has been one of the most interesting campaigns in recent memory.

First with the political news…

In the second week of the campaign, VOCM has been kicking ass with a series of polls commissioned from Abacus Data.  Tim Power’s firm has been producing poll results with much more interesting and useful data than we’ve seen in the province for a while. Their work so far in the 2015 election has consistently made news.

18 November 2015

Details #nlpoli

While the townie media are clamouring for details from people who don’t have the details, it’s important to look at what the people with the details are saying.

CBC’s Ramona Deering had Premier Paul Davis all to herself for a minute on CBC Radio’s Crosstalk.

She asked him what the current provincial deficit is.

“Hard to put a number on that,” said Davis just before launching into a long-winded rambling yack in order to run even further away from the simple question.

17 November 2015

The same sheet of paper #nlpoli

In all the elections in the 21st century, the three political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador have proposed what are essentially the same economic policies.

The differences are minor.

16 November 2015

Fear and Hope #nlpoli

In his major interview with NTV on the first weekend of the formal provincial election campaign,  Premier Paul Davis insisted that his party was not the same as the federal Conservatives.

Then he argued that Liberal Dwight Ball would not be able to represent the province’s interest in Ottawa because the Liberal leader would not be able to challenge the Liberal prime minister,  who Davis referred to as Ball’s “boss.”

It was a classic Conservative ploy to resort to fear.

Fear a Liberal government, Davis warned.  Bad things will happen.

Ryan Cleary told a gaggle of reporters that the prospect of a Liberal government in Ottawa and a Liberal government in St. John’s kept him awake at night.

More fear.

Then we got the hat-trick of fear. While the other two were pretty much par for the course, the third one was a gob-smacker..  

15 November 2015

The possible shift #nlpoli

If the polls are right, we could be looking at an unprecedented shift in politics in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We could be looking at lots of things but it’s a useful exercise to put a bunch of ideas on the table.  That’s about the only way you can tease out rends that others won’t see.

What can we say about these polls?

13 November 2015

Possible Extinction Event #nlpoli

A third poll has confirmed that the provincial Liberals have the support of an overwhelming majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

74% of decided and leaning respondents said they would vote Liberal if an election was held tomorrow.  17% said they would vote Conservative, while only nine percent chose the New Democratic Party.

Asked who they thought would be the best Premier, 36% chose Liberal Dwight Ball, 24% chose Conservative Premier Paul Davis but only six percent chose NDP leader Earle McCurdy.

12 November 2015

Invention #nlpoli

The provincial election campaign is barely a week old and already we have seen certain themes and interpretations emerging that are the product not of fact and observation but of invention.

The most striking one is the imagined explanation for the massive Liberal lead revealed through two polls released at the start of the campaign.  Already we have  commentators in local media connect the Liberal lead to the recent federal election.  They call it the “Trudeau Effect.”

Political scientist Amanda Bittner told a CBC audience on Tuesday night that because the poll came on the heels of the federal election “it’s hard to say what is going on there.”  She then talked in the abstract about what potential impacts the poll results might have on voters.

This is a bizarre comment on several levels.

10 November 2015

Polls and Projections #nlpoli

If you want to get a sense of how accurate polls were in the last federal election take a look at the ones we have in public and compare those to the actual result on polling day.

In each of the tables below,  we are using the official vote for each party as a share of eligible vote.  Basically, that’s what the pollsters surveyed.  They asked people who were eligible to vote what they would do.