By all accounts, the November, 2013 byelection in the southwestern Manitoba riding of Brandon-Souris should never have been as close as it was. And yet, there was a punk rocker who’d spent a good chunk of his life in Toronto leading late in some polls in a riding where the Conservatives had been absolutely dominant for decades. In the end, Conservative Larry Maguire won with 44.16% of the vote compared to Liberal Rolf Dinsdale’s 42.75%.
Was that an aberration?
A new poll is out this weekend that suggests Grit fortunes in this traditionally Conservative heartland are on the rise.
The poll was done Jan 11 to Jan 26 by Probe Research Inc. and was commissioned by the Brandon Sun. Probe polled, by telephone, 803 residents of western Manitoba, in the ridings of Brandon-Souris and in Dauphin-Swan RIver-Marquette, ridings held respectively by Maguire and Conservative Robert Sopuck.
In Brandon-Souris it found that 44% would vote for Maguire while 36% would vote for Justin Trudeau’s candidate. Just 10% would cast a ballot for Thomas Mulcair’s NDP. The best the Liberals have ever done in a general election here was in 1993 when Kim Campbell was leading the Progressive Conservatives to disaster and the Liberals won this with 33% of the vote. It’s the only time the Liberals have ever held this party of Manitoba. (Ironically, the PC candidate in that election was the unlucky Larry Maguire!) In the four general elections in which voters here could cast a ballot for Merv Tweed and Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal candidate got 24% (Martin 04), 18% (Martin 06), 8% (Dion 08) and 5.4% (Ignatieff 11).
Notably, Dinsdale will not try again here. On his Facebook page, Dinsdale said there were personal reasons for that choice but he also said Liberal HQ had made it clear they didn’t want him around. “I regret to say, The Liberal Party has made deciding not to run an easy choice for me to make,” Dinsdale wrote.
In Dauphin, Sopuck and the Conservatives are the preferred pick of 46% of voters compared to 34% for the Liberals and 11% for the NDP. Historically, this riding too reliably picks the small-conservative candidate going back to 1958. The NDP held it briefly from 80-84 and the Liberals won it in that 1993 wipeout. But, again, counting from 2004, here’s how the Liberals did here: 20% (Martin 04), 18% (Martin 06), 14% (Dion 08) , 6.6% (Ignatieff 11)
The pollster says its results are accurate to within 3.5 points 95% of the time.