Yukon Party support grows as confidence climbs
Yukoners are more confident with the Yukon’s economy than they have been in at least the past six years. In 2001, DataPath Systems started to ask Yukoners to rate the Yukon’s economy as if it were getting a health check-up. Back in 2001, 64% rated it in serious or critical condition. This has stayed fairly stable over the years, peaking as high as 75% in the winter of 2004. “During 2005 this figure started to drop into the mid-40’s, and in 2006 it dropped into the mid-30’s. But now it has reached an all time low at 22%. In other words, less than one-quarter of Yukoners are now concerned about the state of the economy” commented Donna Larsen, partner at DataPath Systems. “A drop from 75% to 25% over this time period is definitely significant.” she added.
Along with this trend, is a large jump in support for the Yukon Party. When asked to rate the parties on a scale from 1 to 5, 31% of Yukoners gave the Yukon Party top marks (4 or 5). That is up from 23% just prior to the Fall election. Support for the Liberal Party is also up, from 10% in Fall to 22% now. The NDP has not favoured so well. Ratings are down from 17% in the Fall to 10% today. These ratings are also reflected in the mock election question that the Poll includes. If the election were held today 45% of decided voters would vote for the Yukon Party. This is up from only 34% prior to the election in the Fall when they won a majority government. For the Liberal Party, support would be at 33% (vs. 37% prior to the election), while only 17% would be planning to vote NDP (down from 25%). “A major driving force of this change is among Whitehorse residents, and specifically among government employees. In late summer, the Liberal Party had a two to one ratio of voters over the Yukon Party, with half of government employees planning to vote Liberal and only 25% planning to vote Yukon Party. Now, in the Spring of 2007, the split among government employees is a dead-heat – with both the Yukon Party and the Liberal Party the party of choice for 37% of those voters. “We are also seeing the Yukon Party growing in Whitehorse, up to 41% of Whitehorse voters, from 33% in the Fall.”
With the economy no longer a serious concern, the environment is the hot topic. “Over the past 7 years it has been extremely consistent – the top issues for the Yukon were the economy and jobs/unemployment – but in the summer of 2006 we saw the environment become the number two issue. Now, it is the number one issue, and by a significant leap” Ms. Larsen commented. Until the summer of 2006 fewer than 10% of Yukoners listed this as the most important issue facing the Yukon. In Summer of 2006 this increased to 16% and it has jumped to 29% in this latest poll. “When people are concerned about income and jobs, the economy will be the top issue, but once they gain confidence it is on the right road and that road is stable, then we start to see other issues such as the environment and social issues move up in priority” she added. “Of course, the economy has been the issue the Yukon Party has focused on – the trick will be to see if they can maintain their popularity when other issues take on greater importance to the voters. So far, they seem to be doing this.”
It also seems that this confidence is impacting Yukoners at home. In 2000 31% felt that they were somewhat or much worse off than they were the year before. This improved over time, and in this Spring Poll only 16% feel that they are worse off. At the same time, 27% feel they are somewhat or much better off, similar to results from 2006, and up from 2005.
The survey was conducted by DataPath Systems; an independent Yukon-based market research company. Telephone and on-line surveys were conducted with 165 Whitehorse residents and 185 non-Whitehorse residents between April 1 and April 14. The data is weighted to accurately represent Yukoners based on the community they live in, their age and gender. Percentages are statistically valid to +/- 5.2%, 19 times out of 20 (95% confidence). This section of the survey was non-commissioned, paid for by DataPath Systems.