Fentie’s party rapidly losing popularity

The Yukon Party's popularity has tumbled to an all-time low, according to a Datapath Systems poll released yesterday. Only one-quarter of voters would support Premier Dennis Fentie's government in an election, says the poll.

The Yukon Party’s popularity has tumbled to an all-time low, according to a Datapath Systems poll released yesterday.

Only one-quarter of voters would support Premier Dennis Fentie’s government in an election, says the poll. That’s down from a high of 46 per cent through much of 2008 and early 2009.

Yukon Party support started to sag this spring, when it fell to 33 per cent.

The Liberals now enjoy a clear lead in the polls, with 37 per cent of respondents saying they would vote for them. That’s up from 34 per cent in June, when the Liberals and the Yukon Party were tied.

The NDP has also seen modest gains in support. They won the support of 23 per cent of respondents, up from 20 per cent in June.

One-third of respondents remained undecided about who to vote for. That’s up from a typical uncertainty level of about 20 per cent.

The poll also found that the number 1 issue facing the Yukon today is no longer the economy or the environment, as has traditionally been the case. It’s poor government.

Even so, pollster Donna Larsen finds “there’s no clear winner” in the results. Instead, “it’s a closer race.”

That’s because all parties scored poorly when respondents were asked to rate each of them on a five-point scale. They all received a poor score, of one or two, from more than half of respondents.

In fact, the Yukon Party continues to enjoy a larger core following than the opposition parties, with 18 per cent of Yukoners giving them a positive score of four or five.

That’s down from 31 per cent in the spring, but it’s still a considerably better showing than the top-end scores of the Liberals, with 12 per cent, or the NDP, with six per cent.

“I don’t think it’s doomsday for the Yukon Party,” said Larsen. “But people may just vote against them for the sake of voting against them.”

One reason for the government’s slumping support appears to be Fentie’s secret negotiations with Alberta-based ATCO to sell off the assets of Yukon Energy.

Sixty-one per cent of Yukoners said they did not support greater private-sector involvement in the generation of electricity in the territory, while 21 per cent said they were undecided. Only 18 per cent supported greater private involvement in power generation.

Nearly half of Yukoners support having an election in the next six months, with 27 per cent being undecided and 25 per cent against an election. More than one-third of respondents supported having a minority government in place, with another third opposed.

Faith in the territory’s economy, meanwhile, is picking up from a slump, with 15 per cent of respondents now saying they believe the economy is healthy, up from 10 per cent in the spring and 11 per cent in the summer.

Larsen is still crunching numbers for a sponsored portion of the poll, which asked Yukoners whether they would support a future election bid by Willard Phelps, a conservative political veteran who resigned as chair of Yukon Energy’s board this summer to protest Fentie’s privatization talks.

With all three of Yukon’s political parties stuck in the mud, Phelps is considering putting together a new party as an alternative for voters. He expects to announce details early next week.

Datapath conducted telephone surveys with 309 Yukon residents during the week of October 18 to 26 for the poll. Of those surveyed, 181 live in Whitehorse and 128 live in the communities.

The chances are 95 out of 100 that the results are within plus or minus five percentage points of the true value of the whole population sampled.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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