Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BC NDP and Liberals tied prior to Clark win

Shortly before the vote was held on who would become the next leader of the BC Liberal Party, two polls were leaked to the Vancouver Sun. One was by Abingdon Research and the other was done by Léger Marketing. As they were conducted for the losing Kevin Falcon camp, their focus was on the danger posed by choosing eventual winner Christy Clark. But the polls still did have some interesting numbers for the provincial and federal campaigns in British Columbia.
In the Léger poll, the BC New Democrats led with 41%, followed by the BC Liberals at 37% and the BC Greens at 15%. The BC Conservatives stood at 5%. Interestingly, both pollsters did not prompt for the "BC Conservatives", only "Other". If respondents chose "Other", they were then prompted with the BC Conservatives, independents, and the Libertarian Party.

The BC New Democrats have their strength concentrated on Vancouver Island, as well as in Vancouver itself and in the northern suburbs. The BC Liberals, on the other hand, a stronger in the Interior, in the Valley, and in the southern suburbs of Vancouver. The Greens are stronger away from Vancouver, while the Conservatives had their best result in the Valley - Metro South region.
Abingdon Research had very similar results. While Léger had the two parties statistically tied, Abingdon put the BC Liberals and BC NDP at 38% each. The Greens followed with 14%, and the BC Conservatives stood at 6%.

Note that Abingdon Research's Chief Research Officer has a history with Angus-Reid and also did polling for the federal Conservatives in 2008, according to their website. I had not heard of Abingdon before this poll appeared, but as their results were within the MOE of Léger Marketing's I have no reason to consider these poll results anything other than reliable.

Like the Léger poll, Abingdon found the NDP performing best on Vancouver Island and in the Vancouver - Metro North region. They were tied with the BC Liberals in the Interior, while the Liberals hold a big lead in the Valley - Metro South region. The Greens were strongest on Vancouver Island while the Conservatives had their best result in the Interior.

Rather than do projections for each of these polls, I averaged them out and got 46 seats for the BC New Democrats, 38 for the BC Liberals, and one independent. That makes for a majority government for the BC New Democrats, though at this point they have no leader.

And that makes these polls little more than a look at what the situation was before the two leadership races. The BC Liberals have chosen Ms. Clark, while the BC New Democrats will make their choice in April. Ms. Clark has promised not to call a snap election at least until her chief opponent is chosen.

Abingdon also included some federal numbers in their poll. Not surprisingly, the Conservatives are well ahead at 44%, unchanged from their 2008 result.
The New Democrats stand at 24%, while the Liberals are at 17%. Both of these results are also very close to the last election.

Perhaps the most interesting result in these two polls was the breakdown of BC Liberal voters. According to Abingdon, 67% of BC Liberal voters support the federal Conservatives. Another 22% support the Liberals while 4% support the NDP and the Greens each.

Provincially, that would give 25% to the Conservatives, 8% to the Liberals, and about 2% apiece to the Greens and New Democrats. In other words, half of federal Conservative and Liberal support in British Columbia is found in the BC Liberal Party, while the BC New Democrats are shedding about 2/5ths of their support to parties other than the federal NDP. 

UPDATE: I neglected to add Angus-Reid's latest BC provincial poll to the pile. It was taken between February 15 and 17, and included 811 panellists. 

The result was 41% for the BC Liberals, 38% for the BC New Democrats, 11% for the BC Greens, and 4% for the BC Conservatives. Considering the standard margin of error, this is yet another poll showing the exact same close race around 40%.

Note that Angus-Reid also polled supporters of each party for who they thought would make a good choice as party leader. Among BC Liberal voters, Ms. Clark got 67%, predicting her leadership win. Among BC NDP voters, the leader is Mike Farnworth at 59%, followed by Adrian Dix at 45%, a gap similar to the one Angus-Reid found between Clark and Falcon.

UPDATE (II): A commenter pointed out a poll from Forum Research, asking respondents how they would vote with Clark or Abbott as leader. Check it out here.


  1. I find this interesting:

    "Interestingly, both pollsters did not prompt for the "BC Conservatives", only "Other". If respondents chose "Other", they were then prompted with the BC Conservatives, independents, and the Libertarian Party."

    So, I wonder why they bother to prompts for the Green party and not for the BC Conservatives. What gives the Greens the right to be prompted for? They have never won or even come close to winning a single seat. They have won a paltry 8% of the vote in the last two elections. They also have a history of having most of the support they seem to have in polls evaporate on election day. Since the Greens are no more serious a party in BC than the BC Conservatives - pollsters (IMHO) have two choices - either prompt for the Greens AND the BC Conservatives OR only prompts BC Liberal or BC NDP and "Other" and if people say "Other" then ask if they would vote Green, Conservative or for an Independent.

  2. The Greens are a "major party" in BC, just like the NDP in many others. They are included in election debates and field a full slate of candidates in elections. The Conservatives have been like a fringe party.

  3. Who decided that a party (the Greens) that has never won a seat in its history (or even come close to winning one) should be taken seriously - and invited to debates and prompted for in polling questions, while another party that actually has a long history of having had representation in the BC legislature and which is clearly going to run a full slate next time (the BC Conservatives) should be treated as if it was the Natural Law Party??

    It seems pretty obvious to me that the rightwing establishment in BC has a vested interest in promoting the Greens as a pseudo-serious party - because most of the few votes they get would otherwise go NDP. The rightwing establishment in BC is NOT so interested in giving the BC Conservatives any added credibility because it would cut into the BC Liberal vote.

    If I were the BC NDP, I would be delighted to be leading or dead even in a polls that go out of its way to raise the profile of the Greens while trying to pretend that the BC Conservatives don't exist...Imagine what happens in a real election when the Green vote evaporates to 6 or 7% and mostly goes NDP? The 43% to 39% gap, suddenly becomes more like 49-40%!

  4. You missed this poll:

    I think it's more relevant to the current situation, since it asked people how they would vote if Christy Clark becomes leader.

  5. DL the NDP opposed the BC Liberal's carbon tax and hydro-electric development.

    David Suzuki pretty much told everyone to vote for Gordon Campbell.

    So i'm not so sure you should automatically conflate union mill and mine workers with coastal environmentalists.

  6. The Conservatives have done nothing in BC in 50 years. The Greens got over 12% in 2001 the Conservatives got 0.15% and they still got less the 1% in 2005. The Greens have gotten quadruple the support of them. The Marajuana Party has been bigger then the Conservatives.

    How do you know the Conservatives will make any gains, or run a full slate of candidates? They don't even have a leader.

    The Greens have done better then the NDP in NL, the only difference is they've lucked out winning through first past the post.

  7. Ryan, I will add it to the post.

  8. Thanks Eric.

    DL - The Greens have fielded candidates in every riding for the last 3 elections, and have taken over 12% of the vote.

    The last time the Conservatives ran a full slate was 1960 - 51 years ago. I would think that as a pollster it may be hard to run an accurate poll that prompts for the BC Conservatives when 2/3 of voters didn't have a Conservative candidate to vote for in the last election. Maybe they'll manage a full slate in the next election, but I don't think it's likely.

  9. "David Suzuki pretty much told everyone to vote for Gordon Campbell."

    That would be news to David Suzuki!!

  10. The BC Greens and BC Conservatives get zero, zilch, nada coverage in either the print or broadcast media in BC.

    It's also a rule of thumb that the Greens take 3 voters from the NDP for every 2 voters from the Liberals when they are under 10%.

    Interestingly enough, in every seat that the BC Conservatives ran in 2009, they took as many votes away (some even more) from the NDP as from the Liberals based upon 2005 election results. That was likley due to 2005 anti-Campbell

    From here on outward, it will be interesting to see the honeymoon effect and the bounce in the polls for the Liberals over the next several months.

    If history is any indication (Vander Zalm in 1986 and G. Clark in 1996), that could potentially be substantial.

  11. OT: Tories in majority territory -


  12. It seems like Fabian Manning may be staying in the senate. I've heard that polling done in the riding of Avalon has shown that it is very unlikely that Manning will be able to get elected if he runs.

    So now it seems that instead of John Ottenheimer running if Manning decides not to that Manning will run if Ottenheimer decides not to.

  13. "DL - The Greens have fielded candidates in every riding for the last 3 elections, and have taken over 12% of the vote."

    Check your figures...In both 2005 and 2009 - the Greens took just 8% of the vote in BC.


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