How Manitoba Voted: A Provincial “Exit Poll”.

A third of NDP voters cited “change” as the main motivator behind their decision. “Stability” was important for only 19% of PC voters.

Vancouver, BC [October 6, 2023] – In the democratic processes held in Ontario and Quebec in 2022, it was apparent by the mid-way point of each campaign that the governing parties would be returned to power. Alberta in 2023 was different, as the televised debate enabled a premier who had not been tested at the ballot box to ultimately succeed in courting voters.

In Manitoba, the Progressive Conservatives also had an opportunity to re-connect with the electorate. The televised debate, however, did not help Heather Stefanson. In our final poll, we saw virtually no movement on her approval numbers from what was observed in mid-September. There was also an increase in the proportion of likely voters who regarded New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Wab Kinew as the “Best Premier” for the province.

It is usual for voters in a provincial election to be primarily drawn by the ideas and policies of contending parties. Manitoba was not different in this regard, with 44% of PC voters and 40% of NDP voters saying that “ideas and policies” were the most important factor in their decision.

The significant discrepancy arrives on two other indicators. One third of NDP voters (33%) say their main motivation was a “desire for change”, while just under one-in-five PC voters (19%) mentioned a “desire for stability”. Other issues, such as the party’s leader (NDP 12%, PC 10%) and the party’s candidate in their riding (NDP 6%, PC 9%) did not register as much.

The three previous provincial elections saw the same premiers returned to power. In Quebec, “desire for change” was the main motivator for 20% of Québec solidaire voters. The numbers on this indicator were decidedly lower in Ontario (14% and 12% respectively among NDP and Liberal voters) and Alberta (9% among NDP voters). Opposition voters may have been upset with the status quo, but found it difficult to imagine their respective provinces under a different head of government.

Our “Exit Poll” in Manitoba shows that almost seven-in-ten voters in the province (69%) thought it was time for a change of government. In addition, two-in-five (40%) claim to be “very upset” because the NDP will be in charge of the provincial administration once more. There is some resistance among PC voters who look at their party in opposition for the first time since 2016, but not overwhelming animosity towards the provincial NDP.

Research Co.’s province-wide prediction was within the margin of error advertised for all parties. While our final survey was correct in foreseeing a majority of voters in Winnipeg casting a ballot for the NDP, it fell short in pinpointing the final level of support the Progressive Conservatives would garner in the remaining constituencies.

Finally, more than seven-in-ten voters in Manitoba claim to have voted to support policies they like (72%) and for a candidate or party they liked (74%). The electorate appears more fractured on a separate item, in which 66% of voters claim that the province will be “in a bad place” under a specific governing party. The proportions are practically the same among PC and NDP voters. The difference lies on how many more Manitobans cast ballots for one of these parties.

Find our data tables here.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted on October 3 and October 4, 2023, among 500 adults in Manitoba who voted in the 2023 provincial election. The margin of error — which measures sample variability — is +/- 4.4 percentage points for the sample of decided voters, nineteen times out of twenty.