Corporate Research Associates, Atlantic Canada's most frequent (and at times, only) pollster for the provincial scene, has come out with the second half of its quarterly reports for the four provinces out east. You can see the polls done for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island here, which were pretty interesting as well.
Today, we focus on New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, where the incumbent Tory governments are not exactly on their best legs these days. Let's start with the Rock.
Corporate Research Associates (NL Provincial - Feb. 11-Mar. 8, 2013)
Prog. Conservative: 38% (-8%) - 20 seats
New Democratic: 39% (+8%) - 18 seats
Liberal Party: 22% (-1%) - 10 seats
This, I believe, is the first time that CRA has shown the NDP leading province-wide in Newfoundland and Labrador. While that 1% lead over the PCs isn't enough to win them a plurality of the seats, it's definitely enough to force a minority and maybe govern in conjunction with the Liberals.
In terms of who would make the "best Premier," incumbent Kathy Dunderdale sits with 32% to NDP Leader Lorraine Michael's 33%.
This represents a big boon for the NDP, who, despite being thwarted for Official Opposition status in 2011 by the Liberals, still remain the most popular option versus the PCs. That being said, the Liberals haven't chosen a new leader yet (though Interim Leader Dwight Ball is in this poll), and things can still change. That goes doubly for the Dunderdale Tories - the increase of the NDP isn't because of how awesome Michael is, but instead of the poor job the incumbent government has been doing.
On to New Brunswick.
Corporate Research Associates (NB Provincial - Feb. 13-Mar. 8, 2013)
NB Liberal Assoc.: 35% (-3%) - 24 seats
Prog. Conservative: 32% (-6%) - 21 seats
New Democratic: 26% (+7%) - 10 seats
Green Party: 5% (+1%)
Like their cousins in Newfoundland and Labrador, the New Brunswick Tories are no doing to hot. This is the first time the party has dropped below the Opposition Liberals since the election in 2010, and its been a long time coming. Alward's government, as I've heard from some New Brunswick sources I have (well, OK, one person that I know), has been doing a relatively piss-poor job. Not terrible, but obviously whatever they're doing isn't enough to keep the Liberals from passing them in support.
That being said, its the NDP who have picked up the most support, especially since the election where they managed 10% and 0 seats. The Liberals barely moved up from 2010, and dropped from the last CRA poll. I'd say its mostly down to a protest vote, mostly because the NDP doesn't seem especially more popular compared to his competitors: Dominic Cardy is preferred by 15% of respondents as "best Premier," compared to 21% for current Premier David Alward and 26% for newly-minted Liberal Leader Brian Gallant.
Speaking of, Gallant is running in the Kent by-election. In this poll, Kent goes 52% Liberal to 29% NDP and 16% PC. I think he'll be relatively safe, though you never know in a by-election. It does not seem as though Dominic Cardy will be running, though, so I doubt we'll see an NDP breakthrough.
In every province except Nova Scotia, we're seeing the NDP jump up quite a bit in these Atlantic Canadian polls. As I explained to a commenter before, I do think its about time that the NDP saw their rise in Atlantic Canada. The region is ripe for the NDP's particular ideological and demographic bent, especially in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The only reason we never saw this kind of rise before is that the provincial NDP was weaker than its competitors, who have generations of experience, organization, and tradition on their side.
Now, we're starting to see a breakthrough as those advantages break down. It just may not end up pretty, as Nova Scotians can attest.