The way CRA presents its polls is a bit confusing. They give you the margin of error of their whole sample, but then take the undecideds out of the sample when they present their numbers.
Let's break it out in a bit more accurate a way.
Full sample of 807 with a +/- MOE of 3.4 points.Or we can look at the numbers as they presented them with a more accureate margin of error.
A partial sample of 64% of 807 (516) yields a MOE of +/- 4.3 pointsLooking at it either way, the PCs are just inside or outside of the margin of error (the difference likely due to a combination of rounding error and available number of significant digits).
Therefore it is fair to say with some confidence that the PCs appear to be in the lead. But whether you say that are not, it can be said with all confidence that it is pretty close at the moment.
And in any event, the undecideds are a third larger than the largest party!
CRA is the only outfit that regularly polls New Brunswick politics. We can therefore look at trends over a long period of time. A friend was kind enough to send me a chart of all CRA quarterly polls going back 10 years.
As you can see, the honeymoon enjoyed by the Graham Liberals after the 2006 election was particularly sweet. Though we do not see back as far as Lord's first year in office, his second year compares unfavourably to Graham's. In order for the situation to normalize, the Liberals had to take a deep dive. However, they have likely dove too far for their liking.
Normally in a situation like this you might be able to make a guess on where things were going based on momentum. But for three polls in a row now, both parties are essentially stalled (Libs up 1, PCs down 4 with no movement in last poll). Both have reason to be optimistic. After jumping 11, then falling 4, the Tories have held their ground. The Libs after falling 5 have levelled out and started to tick back up.
But what we do see is that the polls are basically where they were on the eve of the last election (PC 45 - Lib 39).
So one of three things is going to happen. 1) Something dramatic and positive will happen in the short-term to change these numbers in someone's favour; 2) something dramatic and negative will happen during the writ to change the numbers against one's favour; 3) we'll see the same thing as in 2003 and 2006 where local campaigns and local candidates will be the deciding factors.
At this point, I lean towards #3 in my expectations.
Let the trench warfare begin.