Popular support for Premier Dennis Fentie and his Yukon Party government has plunged in recent months, according to a survey released Friday.
Just 33 per cent of Yukoners said they would support Fentie in the next election, down from 47 per cent in the spring.
It’s the lowest level of support Fentie has enjoyed since he began his second term as premier in 2006, according to Yukon’s DataPath Systems, which conducted a noncommissioned telephone survey of 341 Yukoners.
It’s also the first time since 2006 that the Liberal opposition has polled higher than the Yukon Party.
If an election were held today, 34 per cent of decided voters would cast ballots for the Liberals, 33 per cent would vote Yukon Party and 13 per cent would vote NDP, according to the poll.
Does this mean the Liberals enjoy more popular support in the territory? Not necessarily.
The survey has a margin of error of five per cent, so it’s possible that the Liberal lead could be wiped out by a sampling error.
And plenty of voters have yet to make up their minds, with 26 per cent of Yukoners remaining undecided.
The survey shows that the Yukon Party continues to enjoy popularity with its core supporters, but moderates are drifting away from the party.
The Yukon Party enjoyed record support this spring, with 31 per cent of Yukoners giving the party a positive rating. The party’s positive ratings are now down to 24 per cent—similar to ratings in 2007 and 2008.
Meanwhile, Yukoners who once held neutral opinions toward the Yukon Party have shifted downward toward negative scores.
Popular support of the Liberals has swelled 14 percentage points since this time last year, but the party’s performance ratings remain flat by comparison.
“This indicates that their gain is due more to the negative issues impacting the Yukon Party and not so much due to their party’s overall performance,” said pollster Donna Larsen in a press release.
Positive ratings of the Liberals grew to 14 per cent from eight per cent in the spring, returning the party to performance levels seen throughout 2008, but remaining below ratings the party enjoyed in 2007.
The NDP’s popularity has also seen a modest boost, up four percentage points since the spring. That returns the party to 2008 popularity levels, but still puts them below 2006 scores.
Often political support and economic health are tethered to each other, but the poll found that Yukon Party support is deteriorating as faith in the economy returns. Only 16 per cent of Yukoners rated the economy as their number-one issue, down from 25 per cent in the spring.
The environment now rates as the most-pressing issue, up to 18 per cent, from 13 per cent in the spring.
The survey doesn’t pin down why Yukoners are withdrawing support from the ruling party, but Fentie and his government have been dogged by two big political controversies this summer, with the premier accused of meddling with plans to protect the Peel Watershed and planning to privatize Yukon’s public utility.
The survey was conducted with 206 Whitehorse residents and 135 non-Whitehorse residents between June 20 and 30.
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