Wednesday, November 9, 2011

BC Liberals fall as BC Tories rise

Late last week, Angus-Reid released a new poll for British Columbia, a province currently in flux. We've already seen that the BC New Democrats have supplanted the BC Liberals in the most recent Ipsos-Reid poll, but Angus-Reid shows how the rise of the BC Conservatives has eaten into their support.
The last poll from Angus-Reid for British Columbia was released in March of this year, and since then the NDP has hardly moved, gaining an insignificant two points to stand at 40% support.

But the BC Liberals have dropped 12 points since then, and now trail with 31% support.

The big beneficiary has been the Conservatives, who are up 13 points to 18%.

That the Conservative gain almost mirrors the Liberal loss exactly is no accident. Fully 21% of British Columbians who voted Liberal in 2009 have switched over to the Conservatives, according to this Angus-Reid poll.

But there is an oddity in the numbers, an oddity that was also present in Ipsos-Reid's poll. Though Adrian Dix's NDP have a lead over the Liberals, he personally trails Christy Clark on the leadership question. While 25% of people say she is the best person to be premier, only 19% say the same for Dix. While the NDP leader has a lot of time to turn his personal numbers around, it would be problematic to enter into a campaign with this kind of gap.

Regionally, the New Democrats are leading across the board, with important margins in Metro Vancouver (43% to 31%) and on Vancouver Island (39% to 30%). It is much closer in the Interior and the North, but having more widespread support is good news for the NDP, as they usually trail the Liberals in some parts of the province when they lead in others.

The strength of the Conservatives is remarkable, hovering between 17% and 20% throughout the province. Could they come in a strong second or third in every riding without winning one? It's possible, but it seems that the Conservatives stand a good chance of electing a few MLAs.

The projection model for British Columbia is not fully calibrated to take the presence of the Tories into account, but it is a rudimentary regional model. It will be improved and perfected as we approach the 2013 election.

But in its current form, the BC New Democrats would win a majority government with Angus-Reid's poll, taking 50 seats and leaving 33 for the BC Liberals. One independent and one BC Conservative MLA are also sent to Victoria.

The New Democrats take 27 seats in Metro Vancouver, 10 on Vancouver Island, nine in the Interior, and four in the North.

The Liberals take 13 seats in Metro Vancouver, 12 in the Interior, four on Vancouver Island, and four in the North.

When you see numbers like this, you understand why Clark decided against an election this year. She said her own numbers put the two parties closer together, and perhaps they did at the time, but it seems confirmed that the New Democrats currently hold a statistically significant lead in British Columbia.

The one intangible, however, is the performance of the BC Conservatives. Is it a flash in the pan? Will it hold in a campaign if it looks like the BC New Democrats might be elected? That the NDP is leading is good news for them, but that they are leading with 40% is not a sign that they would be elected with any great enthusiasm.

14 comments:

  1. BCs federal Conservatives, for the most part, support the BC Liberals, so this could play a role in the next election as well. People who are considering voting for the BC Conservatives may be swayed to vote Liberal if CPC MPs come out in support for them.

    I'm always interested in knowing why someone would vote for one party when they feel the leader of another is much more suitable to be premier. It's not like they all know who their NDP candidate will be, so it doesn't seem like they are only voting NDP because of their local candidate. In Newfoundland and Labrador I know there were many people who wanted Kathy Dunderdale and the PCs to be government but supported another party so that there would be an opposition, but this isn't the case in BC.

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  2. For all the "hype" about Christy Clark and all her endless photo ops and stunts - only 25% think she would make the best premier. While that may be a bit higher than Adrian Dix - he has the excuse of being a relatively unknown opposition leader - she is supposed to be the one and only trump hard in the BC Liberal hand. 25% is very anemic for her. Her disapproval ratings are also sky-high in that poll.

    Some federal Tories can campaign for Christy Clark if they want - but I don't know that it does her much good among small "l" liberal types who typically vote federal Liberal to see her locking arms with Preston Manning and Stockwell Day! At the same time - rightwing populists in the BC interior see this glitzy big "L" federal Liberal who was a big Stephane Dion supporter and who wears lots of pears and black cocktails dresses and they say "yecchhh!"

    This is the wonderful thing about Christy Clark - there is something about her for everyone to dislike!

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  3. IMHO you will see the BC Conservatives' numbers fall back come election time, just as the Greens' numbers tend to as well. Voters on the left tend to "park" their votes with the Greens if they aren't totally satisfied with the NDP and I feel the same thing is going on here for the BC Liberals on the right.

    In terms of Christy Clark's numbers vs. Dix - as we've seen with the recent elections (particularly in Ontario and federally) the party leaders' popularity and their own party's popularity tend to converge as the election gets closer. As a BC Liberal I'm not going to panic until Clark's numbers are below Dix's by a statistically significant margin.

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  4. I'd actually be really interested to see if party leaders' approval numbers are a better predicitor of the party's electoral results a year out or not. Could be an interesting analysis there.

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  5. DL - I think that's a problem the BC Liberal brand has in general. The BC Liberals drive left of centre voters away from the federal Liberals, and the federal Liberals drive right of centre voters away from the BC Liberals. :(

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  6. I enjoy (but don't necessarily buy) the theory that the BC Tories are more a vehicle for rightists to push the Liberals around, rather than any attempt to supplant them

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  7. I don't buy the theory that federal Tories supporting the BC Liberals is going to drive away federal Liberals from the party - they knew what they signed up for before. There hasn't been a point since the collapse of Social Credit that federal Reformers and Conservatives haven't supported the BC Liberals.

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  8. Volkov, I already know several federal Liberals, from discussions of Harper's crime bill, who have given up on the BC Liberals or are seriously considering dropping out of the next election. By 'several federal Liberals' I mean people who are active convention-attending BC Liberal members.

    If Clark tries too hard to appease the tory mugwumps, quite a few Federal Liberals may jump ship.

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  9. You've got it backwards. I'm arguing that the "Liberal" name drives a portion of federal Tories away from the BC Liberals, not the other way around. And I'm not really talking about partisan Tories here, but rather right-of-centre populist independent voters.

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  10. Ryan,

    I was actually responding to DL, but you're welcome to venture an opinion to! Besides, the same thing applies; it's been this way for nearly two decades. If it's just the name, we'd already have a BC Conservative Party destroying everyone at the polls. The issue now is that voters, and I think whether they're centrist or centre-right, are simply sick of the BC Liberals who don't have the greatest record ever. I mean, they've been in office for a decade - there is a smell about them, even if they changed the freshener.

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  11. I wonder if a NDP government in B.C. starting from 2013 would be an asset or liability to the federal NDP in 2015.

    No doubt B.C. would be an important province (perhaps most important after Quebec) for the NDP, who are targeting their next 50 or so seats to form government.

    - Maple

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  12. My folks just took out memberships in the BC Conservatives. I would expect a lot more than 1 seat. I would suspect you will see a sweep in the interior and north east portion of the province.

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  13. Anon 5:11,

    Are your folks the only people that live there or something? Assigning a "sweep" based on how your family votes would have predicted an awesomely huge Hudak victory in October for me.

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  14. Just wait for the religious wingnuts and a few closet racists to destroy the BC Conservatives. The BC Libs are no saints, but they at least provide something that is soely lacking in rest of Canada- a socially inclusive/tolerant, fiscally pro-business party which a secular white-collar voter can support.

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