NDP and Liberals Gain, Greens and Tories Fall in British Columbia

The opposition BC New Democratic Party (NDP) maintains the upper hand over the governing BC Liberals as the provincial election in British Columbia draws near, 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 was conducted using the “Real Ballot” technique, which allows voters to select their preference using an electronic ballot that mirrors the one they will actually cast on election day. This approach eliminates the possibility of voters supporting parties that did not register a candidate in their constituency, and enables respondents to be aware of all of the contenders who stand to represent them in the Legislative Assembly.

Voting Intention

Across British Columbia, 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners (+4 since early May) 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 36 per cent (+2), followed by the BC Green Party with nine per cent (-3) and the BC Conservatives with six per cent (-4). Four per cent of respondents would vote for other parties, independent or unaffiliated candidates in their riding.

The BC NDP has a six-point lead over the BC Liberals in Metro Vancouver (44% to 38%) and a 19-point advantage in Vancouver Island (48% to 29%). The New Democrats have also recovered in the Southern Interior, where they now hold a four-point edge over the BC Liberals (41% to 37%).

Among male voters, the race has tightened, with the NDP ahead by just three points (42% to 39%). Women continue to prefer the NDP (47%, +4) and the BC Liberals have dropped slightly (33%, -2).

The New Democrats keep a large advantage with voters aged 18-to-34 (51% to 25%), while the race is closer among middle-aged respondents (41% to 39%) and those over the age of 55 (44% to 41%). More than half of respondents in the highest household income demographic would support the BC Liberals.

The BC Liberals have a retention rate of 68 per cent, with 15 per cent of their voters in the last provincial election going to the BC NDP in 2013. In contrast, the New Democrats hold on to practically four-in-five voters (79%) who backed the party in 2009 under Carole James.

Approval, Momentum, Best Premier and Issues

Official Opposition and NDP leader Adrian Dix remains the only leader who gets a positive assessment from more than two-in-five respondents (42%) followed by Green Party leader Jane Sterk (39%), Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark (33%) and BC Conservative leader John Cummins (21%).

Sterk once again posted a positive momentum score (+10), while Dix (-13), Cummins (-19) and Clark (-31) remain in negative territory. Almost half of respondents (46%) say their opinion of Clark has worsened, while 35 per cent feel the same way about Dix.

Dix remains ahead on the Best Premier question with 30 per cent (+4), followed by Clark with 25 per cent (+1), Sterk with five per cent (-1), and Cummins also with five per cent (=).

The economy (31%, -2) remains the most important issue facing British Columbia, followed by health care (17%, -1), leadership (13%, +2) and the environment (9%, +2).

Clark remains the most trusted of the four political leaders to handle the economy (32%, with Dix at 26%). The two main party leaders are practically tied on federal/provincial relations (Clark 26%, Dix 24%) and crime (Dix 23%, Clark 21%). Dix maintains large leads over the incumbent premier on health care (38% to 20%) and education (38% to 23%), while Sterk remains ahead of all rivals on the environment (35%).

Across the province, 57 per cent of respondents (+2) believe it is time for a change in British Columbia and for a different provincial party to be elected into power, while 30 per cent (+3) would like to see the BC Liberals re-elected.

Analysis

The New Democrats have recovered some lost ground, keeping a high level of support among women and young voters, and gaining points in the Southern Interior. Adrian Dix remains the top rated leader, and has extended his advantage on the Best Premier question. The opposition party is once again ahead of the level of support it received in the 2009 election, aided by the fact that a majority of British Columbians think it is time for change.

The BC Liberals were unable to add significantly to their numbers. While the governing party can now count on the support of 36 per cent of decided voters—the highest level registered since March 2011—there were no dramatic gains for Christy Clark on approval or Best Premier. The Liberals are doing better with men, but continue to lose 15 per cent of their voters from Gordon Campbell’s last election to the NDP. In addition, they are 10 points below their winning election tally four years ago.

The situation is definitely grimmer for the two minor parties. The Greens are not fielding a candidate in 24 ridings, and the Conservatives will not be present in 29 of them. With this in mind, and with respondents to this survey only being able to select from the candidates who are registered in their constituency, there is a significant fluctuation for the two parties. The Greens have fallen to single digits and the Conservatives, who had their best showing in March 2012 with 23 per cent, have dropped to six per cent.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From May 9 to May 10, 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.


Sign up for the Angus Reid Institute Mailing List

Receive our latest releases first