Greg Selinger hasn't only watched his personal popularity plummet, he's taken the NDP with him to the bottom. A Probe Research poll shows the NDP support has collapsed to a root cellar low of 28 percent compared to the Opposition's 46 percent; and that's not even half the story.
Outside Winnipeg, the NDP are dead meat, garnering barely 18 percent of decided voters. Given the 3 percent margin of error in the poll, the NDP are tied with, if not below, the Liberal Party (16 percent), which hasn't been a viable political force in Manitoba since the Swinging Sixties.
* NDP support is far behind the Conservative Party in every age group, with men, with women, in all education categories (high school or less, some post-secondary, post-secondary grads), and all income groups except under $30,000 a year.
They maintain a 5 point lead in support in Northwest Winnipeg (Maples, Tyndall Park, Burrows). Their only impregnable area of support remains the Core (Point Douglas, Logan, Minto, and possibly St. John's), where they stand at 49 percent to the Tories at 21 percent. But given that the Conservatives couldn't care less about representing the Core ridings, NDP dominance there is irrelevant to the big picture.
And that's not the worst news for the NDP. Greg Selinger has managed to sink NDP support with women below that for the Tories.
It's not hard to see why women are turning away from the so-called caring party. While men are traditionally seen as being more concerned with chequebook matters, it's women who have to deal with the effects of the NDP's policies.
As Baby Boomers reach retirement age, they're also looking after their parents and planning their own futures, and the outlook only grows worse with every year under the NDP. Last year the NDP imposed the largest tax increase in Manitoba history, including extending the provincial sales tax to home insurance and haircuts. Hydro rates are going up and up and the NDP states they will climb as much as 50 percent higher in 10 years. This year Selinger wants to raise the provincial sales tax to take even more money from the poor.
"Why are they doing this to us?" elderly parents are asking. And NDP supporters can no longer give an honest answer, because they're worried about their own lives on fixed incomes.
Add to that the authoritarian and arrogant attitude of the NDP MLAs, which this year has manifested in outright law-breaking.
Longtime NDP supporters are whispering that maybe the Party needs to be out of office for a term.
That should all be good news for the Progressive Conservatives who had no hope of returning to government in the near future.
The current standings in the Legislature are NDP 37, PC 18, Liberals 1, and Vacant (formerly PC) 1. The Tories would need to win 10 seats to become the government (and that's after winning the byelection). No Opposition party has ever won 10 seats to seize power in Manitoba history.
The PCs failed to take a single seat from the NDP in the 2011 election and they lost a former Liberal-held seat that was up for grabs, putting them one seat further from victory than before the writ was dropped.
What was worse was that the NDP was convinced it was going to lose the 2011 election. All their internal polls said they were toast.
But they won, and even added one seat to their total. Despite the brutal poll numbers, they haven't lost hope of hanging on. Here's why:
* The Conservative brain trust today is the same gaggle of geniuses who ran the last election. They have a track record of seizing defeat from the jaws of victory.
* PC leader Brian Pallister is as inept as the man he replaced, Hugh McFadyen, whose 2011 campaign consisted of turning the NDP into the fiscal conservatives of the election. Pallister won the job by being the only one who put his name forward, but he's so egotistical that he's convinced himself he's personally revitalized the party and deserves the credit for the new poll numbers.
* The NDP will stop at nothing to win. The last election was one unrelenting smear campaign, which succeeded because Hugh McFadyen refused to raise a finger to refute. The NDP transformed the "advance poll" from a day for people who couldn't be home to cast a ballot on election day into something unheard of--- literally a week of pre-election voting to allow election organizers the time to bring loads of pre-selected voters to stack the vote. Elections Manitoba refused to investigate complaints of vote rigging in Point Douglas where people with no identification were allowed to vote (and possibly roam from poll to poll to vote again and again).
* the last time the NDP were this low in the polls was in 1988 when they lost the election to the Tories. Only they didn't.
In 1988 there were still 3 political parties that were considered options for voters. This time round there are only two. The Liberals have all but disappeared except in name.
An interesting note is that if, all other things being equal, NDP supporters chose to park their vote with the Liberals this time, and by some fluke the Liberals won 18 seats in addition to holding the retiring Jon Gerrard's seat, the election could be a dead heat with all three parties having 19 seats.
Today's history lesson
In the 1999 election (which brought the NDP to power):
The Liberal Party lost 53,500 votes
The NDP picked up 54,000 votes
The PCs lost 15,000 votes
The popular vote had the NDP ahead by 18,000
The NDP held 24,000 of the votes they added in 1999 but watched 30,000 melt away
The PCs under Stuart Murray lost 58,000 votes, hitting bottom
The Liberals bled off another 14,000 votes
The NDP led the popular vote by 53,000
Tournout dropped 14 percent. 102,000 voters disappeared.
The PCs regained 16,000 votes, but were still 57,000 votes in the hole
The NDP gained 5000 votes
The Liberals lost another 4000 even as turnout rose 2 percent
The NDP was ahead in the popular vote by 42,000
The PCs gained 30,000 votes (leaving them still 18,000 down from 1999)
The NDP vote was virtually unchanged (about 1700 down)
The Liberals died another death, losing 19,000 more votes
Turnout was a smidgin higher.
The NDP was still ahead in popular vote by 11,000.
Voter turnout helps the Tories, not the NDP.
The Liberal Party died in 1999, then died again in 2011. They've lost 90,900 voters in the past four elections. They're not coming back.