Monday, November 22, 2010

BC Liberals gain after Campbell resignation

The BC Liberals have rebounded in the first British Columbia provincial poll to be released after the announcement of Premier Gordon Campbell's eventual resignation. The Mustel Group, however, still shows that the BC New Democrats have the advantage.Compared to Mustel's last poll taken in late August and early September, the BC New Democrats have remained steady at 42%. That is, however, down from the high of 46% the party registered in Mustel's August 2009 poll.

The BC Liberals are up four points from September to 37%, their highest result since that August 2009 poll.

Meanwhile, the BC Greens are down two points to 10%, their lowest total since the 2009 election. The BC Conservatives are also down two points, to 9%, though they are still riding high compared to earlier polling results and the last election.

Undecideds represented 16% of this telephone poll.

The ability of the BC Liberals to recover is interesting, but the approval/disapproval rating of the NDP's leader, Carole James, is the most fascinating result of this poll.

While Campbell's approval rating is only 32% (much higher than the 9% in a recent Angus-Reid poll), Ms. James' is at 33%. That she is tied with such an unpopular premier is not a good sign for the party. But her disapproval rating is at 45%, better than Campbell's 60%. However, her approval rating is the lowest on Mustel's tracking chart, which stretches back to June 2008.

Nevertheless, with these polling results I project that the BC New Democrats would win a majority government of 52 seats, while the BC Liberals would form the Official Opposition with 31 seats.

That is closer than the 58 to 27 split I projected in Mustel's last poll.

I also project that one independent and one BC Conservative would be elected. That BC Conservative would be elected in Boundary-Similkameen, where the party had 20.2% support in 2009 (compared to 37.5% for the BC Liberals and 32.9% for the BC New Democrats). I realize it is going out on a limb to say that the BC Conservatives are now electable, but with the general anger against the Liberal government and the staggering improvement of the BC Conservatives' numbers since the election, they have to be considered to be a factor. Recall that during that election the BC Conservatives did not poll anywhere near their current levels.

Regionally, the NDP would win 25 seats in Vancouver, 14 on Vancouver Island, nine in the Interior, and four in the North. The Liberals would win 15 in Vancouver, 12 in the Interior, and four in the North.

While it is far, far too early to say that the worst is behind the BC Liberals, a poll like this will perhaps make leadership of the party a more attractive prospect.


  1. The political dynamic in BC has changed once again, over the weekend, with a bizarre turn of events starting Friday afternoon where it appeared that the NDP was on the verge of collapsing.

    Around 13 NDP MLAs, representing about 40% of the NDP caucus, no longer support NDP leader Carole James' leadership. James is staying on as leader, however.

    NDP insiders also suggest that some of these NDP MLAs might even quit caucus and form a new party.

    The fallout will likely see a further drop in James' personal approval numbers down the road, which likely will pull down NDP support with her.

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is certainly an understatement in this case.

  2. Perhaps? The BC Liberal leadership just got MUCH more attractive. Until now, the thought was that the party was doomed for 2013 no matter who took the helm. Not anymore.

    A five point gap is nothing. Back in the day, the Social Credit Party routinely ran behind the NDP heading into campaigns in BC, but would rally to victory.

    Prediction - the first poll after the selection of a new Premier will see the BC Liberals in the lead. Then the fun will really begin in NDP caucus.

  3. Perhaps because a poll is just a poll - with the 4.4 MOE the gap could actually be 46% to 33%. Not so pretty then.

    We'll have to wait and see how things develop.

  4. Mustel is the same company that gave the BC Liberals an 18 point lead when the campaign began in 2009 - their final poll had the BC Liberals 10 points ahead - when the votes were counted the BC Liberals won by 3%.

  5. DL -

    Prior to the May, 2009 provincial election, Mustel was in the field from one to three weeks prior to voting day. Here are the actual results (with polling results in brackets)

    Lib - 46% (47%)
    NDP - 42% (38%)
    Green - 8% (12%)
    Other - 4% (3%)

    Again Mustel started in the field 3 weeks prior to election day. And just like in many federal campaigns, during the last week of the 2009 campaign James pleaded with Green supporters to vote NDP in order to stop Gordon Campbell.

    That's where you see the 4% movement from the Greens to the NDP during the last week. OTOH, ARS WAS in the field during the last week of the campaign and included that shift in their results.

    BTW, here's Mustel's record of accuracy over the past 15 years - they have been virtually bang on.

  6. Good - so now we know that in any future BC election we can look at the Green vote and assume that at least half of it will go NDP. That means that the latest Mustel poll points to the NDP actually being ahead by about 10% when you control for the inevitable Green erosion.

  7. DL don't be so quick to assume that.

    This is Sterk's second time around and compared to how hated James is she's probably going to be a more appealing choice.

    Plus if it looks like the NDP will win anyways Greens won't be inclined to vote strategically.

    Greens have won 10% of the vote before.

    Their numbers in this poll are not unreasonable.


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