Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BC Liberals widen lead over BC NDP

After trailing the BC New Democrats for some time during and before their leadership race, the BC Liberals are now in front in provincial voting intentions in British Columbia, and more definitively than they were in February.

Note, if you didn't read this morning's new federal projection or the daily poll summary, please scroll down or read them by clicking here and here.

Yes, we're in the midst of a federal campaign, but provincial politics are still important. British Columbia's are especially important, as the province could be in its own election once the New Democrats choose their new leader. But in the meantime...

The BC Liberals under Christy Clark are now leading in British Columbia with 43%, trailed by the BC NDP at 38% in the latest Angus-Reid poll. It is still a very close race.

This is a two point gain for the BC Liberals since February. The BC NDP is holding steady. While this five point lead is just inside what would be considered statistically significant, we can confidently say that Ms. Clark is in front.

Below the two main parties, the Greens stand at 10% while the BC Conservatives are at 5%.

The BC Liberals lead among their traditional base: men, those aged 35 or older, and those who earn $50,000 or more. The BC New Democrats lead among women, those aged 34 or young, and those who earn less than $50,000.

But regionally the race is very close. In Metro Vancouver, the BC Liberals hold a six point lead, 44% to 38%. On Vancouver Island, they are up 43% to 38%, while in the Interior the BC New Democrats are ahead 43% to 37%. The only part of the province with a safe lead for one of the parties is in the North, where the BC Liberals are ahead of the BC NDP 55% to 24%.

With this poll, ThreeHundredEight.com projects 50 seats for the BC Liberals and 34 for the BC New Democrats, with one seat remaining held by an independent.

A few months ago, I would have followed the above with a "but we're years away from an election". Now that the BC Liberals have chosen their leader and the BC New Democrats will choose theirs in April, we could see a new election campaign before the year is out. Now that the BC Liberals have edged ahead, there is all the more reason for Ms. Clark to pull the plug and win a mandate for herself.

But who will she have to run against? Among all British Columbians, 43% said that Mike Farnworth would be a good choice as leader of the BC New Democrats. Another 27% said the same for Adrian Dix while 15% thought John Horgan was a good choice.

Among those who voted for the BC New Democrats in 2009, the race between Farnworth and Dix is much closer. Farnworth clocks in at 54% saying he would be a good choice, compared to 41% who said Dix would be a good choice. Horgan falls away at 23%, indicating that it will be Farnworth or Dix vs. Clark.

In the context of the federal election, the buoyed fortunes of the BC Liberals are more helpful to the Conservatives. The two parties tend to share supporters. And if the Conservatives win the next federal election, you can expect supporters and volunteers of the BC Liberals to be fired up against their dispirited opponents in the BC New Democratic Party, whose supporters tend to vote either Liberal or NDP at the federal level.

But opposition to the HST is still widely felt in the province, as 54% said they would vote to abolish it. As the New Democrats are pushing the HST issue hard at the federal level, whether this will gain any traction among voters on the west coast could decide a few of the closest races in the province.