Tuesday, March 20, 2012

B.C. NDP continues to hold wide lead

A new poll by Justason Market Intelligence on the provincial voting intentions of British Columbians was released over the weekend, so what better time to check-in on the province and look at a Forum poll released at the end of February that had fallen through the cracks. You can also read my take on the numbers at The Huffington Post Canada here.
Let's start with the Justason numbers, which are the most recent. I don't have a poll from Justason in my database, and a look at the website tells me they haven't polled the provincial voting intentions of British Columbians for several years, if ever. They seem more concerned with Vancouver's municipal politics.

Nevertheless, Justason's numbers align generally well with the most recent polls we've seen from the likes of Ipsos-Reid and Angus-Reid since the beginning of 2012.

They have the B.C. New Democrats leading with 45% support, well ahead of the B.C. Liberals. They stand at 31%, trailed by the B.C. Conservatives at 14%. The Greens register 8% support.

This sort of split, with the Conservatives in the teens and the Liberals around 30%, seems to be the consensus opinion on what is going on in British Columbia with the notable exception of Forum's results, which have tended to up Conservative support at the expense of the Liberals.

Forum's poll has the NDP at 42%, up three points since they were last in the field on January 23. The Liberals are down two points to 24%, while the Conservatives are steady at 22% support. The Greens are up one to 10%.

The New Democrats lead on Vancouver Island with 49% (+8), in the Interior/North with 41% (+4), and in Vancouver/Lower Mainland with 40% (+1). The Liberals trail in second with 27% (unchanged) in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island at 18% (also unchanged). The Conservatives are second in the Interior/North with 26%, up one point.

These polls result in mildly different legislatures. Forum sees the biggest romp for the New Democrats with 65 seats according to ThreeHundredEight's simple model (a full model has yet to be constructed), while the Liberals win 13 seats. The Conservatives take five seats while two independents are elected.

In Vancouver/Lower Mainland, the NDP wins 29 seats with 11 going to the Liberals. The NDP sweeps all 14 seats on Vancouver Island and wins 22 seats in the Interior/North, with five going to the Conservatives and two to the Liberals.

With Justason's numbers, the New Democrats still win a big majority with 58 seats, with 25 going to the Liberals and one apiece to the Conservatives and independents.

Vancouver delivers 25 seats to the NDP, with the Liberals taking 15. The NDP sweeps the Island, while taking 19 seats in the Interior/North to 10 for the Liberals and one for the Conservatives.

Either result is great for the NDP, while the Liberals would prefer to avoid the debacle of Forum's numbers. Being reduced to only 13 MLAs, with five Conservatives elected, would likely be a bit of a shock to the Liberals and a boon to the Conservatives. How the two parties would react is difficult to say, but it could begin the sort of three-party system most other provinces have, and one that would benefit the NDP in British Columbia.

As mentioned in my Huffington Post Canada article, both Christy Clark and John Cummins have net negative approval ratings, while Adrian Dix scores a net positive. But it is interesting to look at how supporters view the leaders. Both Dix and Cummins do very well among their supporters, with approval ratings of 74% and 75%, respectively. Clark, however, has the approval of 66% of Liberal supporters. That's not a huge gap, but the lack of enthusiasm certainly does not bode well for the party's chances in 2013.


  1. Assuming for the sake of argument that the BCNDP win a substantial majority in the upcoming provincial election, it will be interesting to see how a provincial NDP government would affect the standings of the federal parties in BC. Perceptions of the BCNDP's ability to govern may well play an important part in how BC's federal seats wind up voting, and could ultimately decide the election.

  2. Thanks Eric for this analysis. I'm not sure though that BC is capable of continuing to support a three-party legislature. Historically, the vote has split left-right between two parties. What we could be seeing is a transition to that type of Leg. Another obvious observation might be what the outcome of a unite-the-right movement might have on the next election. A combination of the two right-wing parties could defeat the NDP. But it would be a bit of a stretch. Either the Liberals or the Conservatives would have to collapse completely and that probably won't happen in time for the 2013 election. When it does happen, it'll be the Liberals that collapse.

    1. For most of its history the BC Legislature has housed more than two parties. Liberal, Conservative, Socialist-Labour; then coalition (Liberals-Conservatives), CCF with independent Tom Uphill (Labour), then Socreds, Liberals, PC, Tom Uphill. In the last election three "parties" were elected if one includes Vicki Huntington.

    2. Hey Derek: Okay,but you're most recent example, (not including Huntington) happened in the early 50s I think. Since then there's pretty much always been two major parties. Yes sometimes there's been a third or fourth, but generally the total of those third and fourth parties has been less than a handfull of MLAs at best, for example the 60s, 70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's. The old Socreds were very good at absorbing individual Liberal and Conservative MLAs by offering them cabinet posts.

    3. Pinkobme,

      Yes, larger parties often absorb smaller ones but, the only significant time period where only 2 parties were represented in the Legislature was 1979-1991, 2001-2009 (During the 1990's BC reform, Socreds and the Progressive Democratic Alliance were third parties). BC like most Westminster jurisdictions has a two party plus system. This system is not likely to change anytime soon for the simple reason that once you kick the bums out, after a while you have to kick the other bums out, hence the need for a new or third party.

  3. I think an NDP majority would be good for BC's political landscape. For the past several years, BC has been saddled with an unprincipled governing party that had successfully branded itself as right-wing and pro-business, when in fact that wasn't true at all. Finally seeing what a genuine left-wing party does should help galvanize that right-wing support around a true right-wing option.

    Maybe not right-wing by my standards (I'm an Albertan), but certainly better than the BC Liberals.

    1. not rigt-wing by standards!!! The difference of the political spectrum is astounding in Canada. In the east (like Quebec and the Maritime), a right-winger would probably be an NDPer in the west. or at least close to that.

    2. The only way we beat the NDP though is if the centre and the right stick together. Do you think the BC Conservatives could reach out to the centre over the next 5 years? I don't...

    3. Ira, the BC Liberals may be a centrist party but then so are the Alberta PC's who love to subsidise profittable oil companies by paying for all sorts of infrastructure upgrades.


      A right winger in the Maritimes would likely not be an NDPer. The political spectrum in Canada despite what left-wingers will tell you is not left-right. Cleavages exist on constitutional matters or language not a 19th century interpretation of class. This is most obvious in Quebec but, generally exists throughout the country. For example if one analyses the Canada Election Survey in many ridings the "poor" people as determined by income vote Tory whereas, the "rich" people vote NDP. Same thing on education.

    4. When the Alberta PCs stopped being a conservative option, I stopped supporting them.

  4. After Christy Clark loses and is unemployed - she would be a the perfect person to be the next leader of the federal Liberals!

  5. Who won Shuswap? And the three Kelowna ridings? If you know..


  6. Charles in Vancouver21 March, 2012 02:43

    What I'm wondering is if we're going to see a long-term political realignment in which the centre is no longer so preoccupied with trying to keep the NDP out of office.

    I've met some people who vote BC Liberal, federal Liberal and Vision Vancouver. Recall that Vision's mayor Gregor Robertson was a BCNDP MLA and I believe he is still a party member. And recall that even though federal Liberals are not wholly "progressive", a signficant contingent of that party would rather join with the left to defeat the right than the reverse.

    So if we shift more towards a three-party system, perhaps we will see down the road (another 1-3 elections?) BC's first minority government situation in a long time. If all the true right-wingers flee for the Conservatives, the BC Liberals could end up back in the centre, and may not automatically side with the right the way they have in the past.


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