BC Liberals Now Seven Points Behind NDP in British Columbia

The BC Liberals have improved their standing in British Columbia and now trail the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) by seven points, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with CTV and the Globe and Mail has found.

The online survey of a representative provincial sample of 808 British Columbian adults also outlines gains for Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark on being the best person to handle the economy.

Voting Intention

Across British Columbia, 41 per cent of decided voters and leaners (-4 since late April) would cast a ballot for the BC NDP candidate in their riding if the provincial election were held tomorrow.

The governing BC Liberals are in second place with 34 per cent (+3), followed by the BC Green Party with 12 per cent (+2) and the BC Conservatives with 10 per cent (-1). Three per cent of respondents would vote for other parties, or an independent candidate in their riding.

The BC NDP remains clearly ahead of the BC Liberals in Metro Vancouver (45% to 35%) and Vancouver Island (44% to 28%). The BC Liberals are now leading the New Democrats in the Southern Interior (42% to 29%).

Among male voters, the NDP holds a seven-point edge (40% to 33%). Women continue to prefer the NDP (43%), but the BC Liberals have reached their best numbers in almost two years with female voters (35%, up 11 points since the start of the campaign).

The race among voters aged 55 and over is now essentially a tie, with the New Democrats at 40 per cent and the BC Liberals at 39 per cent. The opposition party remains ahead among voters aged 35-to-54 (43% to 34%) and among those aged 18-to-34 (40% to 28%). The governing party is first among respondents in the highest household income demographic (44% to 36%).

The New Democrats are keeping three-in-five voters (76%) who backed the party in 2009 under Carole James, and are seeing 11 per cent of them shifting their support to the BC Greens. The BC Liberals now have a retention rate of 66 per cent, with a quarter of their voters in the last provincial election going to either the BC NDP (15%) or the BC Conservatives (11%).

Approval, Momentum, Best Premier and Issues

Official Opposition and NDP leader Adrian Dix maintains the best approval rating in the province, but lost four points in a week (from 45% to 41%). Green Party leader Jane Sterk saw her standing improve by five points to 38 per cent, while Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark continues to gain on this indicator, and has reached 34 per cent, seven points higher than in early April. BC Conservative leader John Cummins has the lowest rating (18%).

Once again, Green Party leader Sterk is the only one to post a positive momentum score (+12), while Dix (-12), Cummins (-19) and Clark (-34) all have negative numbers. While one third of respondents (33%) say their opinion of Dix has worsened recently, 45 per cent feel the same way about Clark.

There is a significant fluctuation on the Best Premier question, with Clark gaining four points to reach 24 per cent, and Dix dropping six points to 26 per cent. Sterk improved to seven per cent on this question, while Cummins fell to six per cent.

The economy (33%, +4) is regarded as the most important issue facing British Columbia, followed by health care (18%), leadership (11%), the environment (7%) and poverty (7%).

Clark is now seen as the best of the four political leaders to handle the economy (31%) and federal/provincial relations (26%). Dix remains the top choice for health care (37%), education (33%) and crime (22%). Sterk has solidified her position as the best leader on the environment (36%).

Across the province, 55 per cent of respondents (-4) say it is time for a change in British Columbia and for a different provincial party to be elected into power, while 27 per cent (+2) would prefer to see the BC Liberals re-elected.

Analysis

With less than two weeks to go before election day, the New Democrats are holding on to a higher retention rate than their main rivals, but this number has fallen to 76 per cent. The opposition party maintains leads in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and British Columbians prefer change over the continuation of the BC Liberal government by a 2-to-1 margin. However, the NDP lost ground in the Southern Interior, and saw a noticeable drop in the approval rating for Adrian Dix.

The week was definitely kinder for the BC Liberals, who experienced an improvement on voting intention for the second time since the campaign began, as well as solid gains for Christy Clark on approval, Best Premier and handling of the economy. The governing party has bounced back in the Southern Interior, but remains second to the NDP in other areas of the province.

The BC Greens continue to be a force in Vancouver Island—aided by the high approval rating of party leader Jane Sterk—and remain particularly popular with the youngest voting demographic. The key for the party will be to ensure a good turnout from supporters on May 14, particularly in areas where well known candidates are running.

The BC Conservatives stand at 14 per cent in the Southern Interior and, in stark contrast to the Greens, did not get much positive feedback for their leader. John Cummins is not a factor on most of the issue questions, and his approval rating continues to lag behind all other leaders.

The initial weeks of the campaign have brought a rekindling of the BC Liberal base with the current leader, as evidenced by a retention rate that has improved from 58 per cent in March to 66 per cent with 12 days to go in the campaign. The challenge for the ruling party will be to reduce the proportion of 2009 voters that continue to choose the BC NDP and the BC Conservatives. If this number keeps falling, as it has in the past week, the gap between the two main parties among decided voters will narrow.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From May 1 to May 2, 2013, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 808 randomly selected British Columbia adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of British Columbia. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.


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