The race to form the next territorial government is at a dead heat between the Yukon Party and the NDP, with the Liberals straggling far behind, according to the latest Datapath survey released today.
Forty per cent of decided voters would support the governing Yukon Party in the next territorial election, which must be triggered by November, while 35 per cent would support the NDP.
With a margin of error of 4.7 per cent for both figures, that puts the parties in a statistical tie.
Support for the Official Opposition Liberals slumped to 15 per cent. That’s a big drop from one year ago, when the Liberals led the pack, with support peaking at 39 per cent, followed by the NDP at 26 per cent and Yukon Party at 22 per cent.
Liberal support surged last year, when the Yukon Party government took a beating over then-premier Dennis Fentie’s handling of the ATCO energy privatization fiasco.
But the Yukon Party has since cleaned house. Darrell Pasloski has replaced Fentie as premier, and many sitting cabinet ministers won’t seek re-election.
“There’s no one to vote out,” said pollster Donna Larsen. “They made that change in advance.”
Also, Liberals are probably bleeding support because they haven’t managed to hitch their image to a “big, dramatic” story as the other parties have, said Larsen.
The Yukon Party politicians portray themselves as protectors of the economy. The NDP champions the environment and social issues.
The Liberals want to do both things, but so far, according to the poll, this hasn’t persuaded many voters.
It’s also possible the near-destruction of the Liberals in the last federal election may be carrying over to the territorial level, said Larsen.
The latest polling results are far from certain. Sixty per cent of respondents hadn’t completely made up their minds how to vote.
“It will all come down to the riding candidates,” said Larsen.
The fledgling territorial Green Party could influence the outcome. Seven per cent of respondents were looking to cast their votes for such a party.
Most of these ballots would likely come from NDP or Liberal supporters, based on voting preferences observed on the federal level, said Larsen.
Demographics could play a role, too. Yukon Party supporters tend to be older than 50, male and privately employed. New Democrats tend to be under 35, female and work for government.
The territory’s housing shortage is shaping up to be the No. 1 election issue. It took the top spot in the poll, followed by the environment.
Yukoners are no longer very worried about the economy – it placed fourth in a list of concerns. Poor government, a big concern in 2009, straggled far behind.
Datapath conducted telephone interviews with 279 Whitehorse residents and 145 rural residents between July 17 and July 25. The noncommissioned study is considered statistically valid 19 times out of 20.
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