Fickle electorate awaits territorial saviour

Public support for the Yukon Party government remains stagnant, despite growing faith in the economy, says a new poll by Datapath Systems. Just 25 per cent of respondents would vote for the Yukon Party if an election were held today.

Public support for the Yukon Party government remains stagnant, despite growing faith in the economy, says a new poll by Datapath Systems.

Just 25 per cent of respondents would vote for the Yukon Party if an election were held today. The Liberals enjoyed 36 per cent support, followed by the NDP with 23 per cent. A remaining 16 per cent of voters chose “Other.”

None of the parties saw notable shifts in their standing since the last poll conducted in the autumn.

These results have a margin of error of five per cent and a confidence of 19 times out of 20. That means that the Liberals currently enjoy a statistically significant lead, albeit a small one.

If there’s a bright note to be found in the poll results for Premier Dennis Fentie’s government, it’s that fewer respondents reported that poor government was their biggest concern, having dropped to 16 per cent from an all-time high of 19 per cent in October. That puts bad governance on equal footing with the economy and the environment as top concerns of respondents.

“They saw a little bit of recovery, but it didn’t transfer to, ‘OK, I’m confident enough to vote for you now,” said pollster Donna Larsen. “The voting behavior didn’t change at all, but they did come off the hot seat a bit.”

There may also be a small comfort that the Liberals and NDP continue to fare even worse in satisfaction scores. This suggests many voters are fed-up with the current government, but they aren’t happy with any of the existing alternatives, either, said Larsen.

A growing proportion of respondents reported their choice was determined by their dislike for the current government, at 27 per cent, up from 20 per cent in October.

“They’re not really satisfied with anyone. They intend to go Liberal, but whether they can maintain that in an election, I don’t know, because satisfaction isn’t backing it up.

“I wouldn’t say the Liberal Party would have it wrapped up. There’s lots of dissatisfaction out there. Someone can jump in.”

The Yukon Party enjoyed its peak of support of 46 per cent during the winter and summer of 2008.

The number of respondents who answered “Other” has spiked since last summer and is “unusually high,” said Larsen. This could reflect interest in Willard Phelp’s efforts to put together a new political party, she said.

Or it could include respondents who supported the federal Green Party during the last election and either hope to see a territorial party grow.

Or maybe respondents choose “Other” as a way of saying: none of the above.

“Another option is the dissatisfaction scores are so bad, people are just hoping there’s another option, that doesn’t even have a name or face yet,” said Larsen.

Often faith in the economy and faith in government move in tandem, but that’s not the case in the Yukon today. Larsen notes that the global economic downturn didn’t do much to harm the Yukon Party’s support. It makes sense, then, that the recovery offers few dividends as well.

Pollsters contacted 189 Whitehorse residents and 150 non-Whitehorse residents between March 1 and March 15.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com

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