Thursday, March 29, 2012

NDP leads, B.C. Conservatives making inroads

Two polls on the provincial voting intentions of British Columbians were released recently, indicating that the B.C. New Democrats hold a wide lead over the governing B.C. Liberals. The size of that lead is in serious dispute, but one common trend is that the B.C. Conservatives have displaced the Liberals as the main alternative to the NDP in the British Columbia Interior.
Mustel Group, a B.C.-based polling firm, was last in the field back in September, though I have no record of that poll aside from Mustel's trends chart. But since then, the B.C. New Democrats have slipped two points to 42% while the B.C. Liberals are up two points to 34%.

That's an eight point lead, generally the kind of gap we've seen in polls by other firms like Justason, Ipsos-Reid, and Angus-Reid.

Mustel has the B.C. Conservatives up three points to 17% while the Greens are down four to 6%.

Regionally, the New Democrats hold a wide lead on Vancouver Island and are more narrowly edging out the Liberals in Metro Vancouver.

But in the Interior, the NDP is second - behind the Conservatives. They stand at 33%, a big number for them in what should be expected to be their strongest region. This has resulted in the Liberals being pushed down to third, a significant development. The Conservatives have just picked up their first MLA due to floor crosser John van Dongen, but his riding of Abbotsford South is not exactly in the Interior.

Nevertheless, things are on the upswing for the Conservatives. They are still not a factor in Vancouver or on the Island, but if they can put together a performance like this in the Interior they could win a swathe of seats.
Forum Research agrees. They were last in the field on 22 February and since then they have the NDP up five points to 47%, their highest score in any poll since the end of 2010.

Forum has the Liberals down three points to 21%, tied with the Conservatives who are down one point.

The Greens are down one point to 9%.

So, Forum sees the gap not at eight points but instead at 26. This is not the first time that Forum disagrees so strongly with what other polls are showing.

Nevertheless, there are some consistencies with Mustel's poll: the NDP is dominant on Vancouver Island and lead in Vancouver, while in the Interior/North the Conservatives are polling ahead of the Liberals. In fact, since the Liberals are their major rival for votes, this sort of split in the Interior/North is probably better for the Conservatives than being slightly ahead in a three-way race.

Both of these polls result in an NDP majority, but the make-up of the opposition and the size of that majority is radically different.

With Mustel's numbers, which are probably more likely in the case of an election when the better organization and fundraising of the B.C. Liberals can be brought to bear, the New Democrats win 49 seats, compared to 32 for the Liberals, three for the Conservatives, and one independent.

But with Forum's numbers, which are more reflective of a complete sea-change in B.C. politics, the New Democrats win a massive 76-seat majority. The Conservatives form the Official Opposition with only four seats, while the Liberals win three and two independents are elected.

It seems quite clear, no matter what the gap between the NDP and the Liberals, that Adrian Dix's party is comfortably ahead of Christy Clark's. Their personal numbers seem to back that up: Dix has an approval rating of 39% to 36% disapproval, according to Forum, while Clark has a dismal 26% to 60% split. This jives quite well with Angus-Reid's recent survey that put Clark's approval rating at only 33% to 58% disapproving and gave Dix a 47% to 37% split.

Leadership can make or break a party's fortunes. Adrian Dix can ride these numbers to government in May 2013, but Clark needs to turn the tide, and fast. People's opinion of her may be set by the time the next election rolls around.


  1. Interesting developments but I don't see the Forum result as being correct?

    Somehow the NDP is going to win and most likely a majority but that catastrophic Liberal collapse I don't think is realistic ??

    1. I agree. I think Mustel is closer to the mark, but anything can happen before the election. However, I do beleive the Liberals could collapse as much as Forum suggests, but if that happens, I expect the Conservatives will pick up much of the slack - certainly more than four seats.

  2. How sad, the right in BC need to get this act together.

    1. BC is only just now getting a right at all.

      No, I do not accept that Gordon Campbell's Liberals were a right-wing government.

    2. Gordon Campbell was one of the biggest right wingers of his time. The BC Liberals are just a mix of the old Social Credit party and the BC Reform party. They were never "Liberal". If they do collapse the same people from the BC Liberals will just take over the new BC Conservative party. Its already happening.

    3. Politically Gordon Campbell had no policies to the right of the federal Liberals. No one has ever managed to point one out.

      A large portion of the MLAs are federal Liberals and many of the staffers.

      Liberals, federally or provincially, are not a "progressive" party, but a centre right party

    4. "Liberals, federally or provincially, are not a "progressive" party, but a centre right party"

      That is I think incorrect.

      Better put as:
      Fiscally conservative
      Socially progressive

      Centre Left is probably a more accurate description.

    5. Peter:

      Fiscally conservative socially progressive would make them centre not centre-left. Fiscally conservative right, socially progressive left, they balance each other out and meet in the centre. Federally, we alternate between Liberal and Conservative governments. Therefore, the middle voter must be on the centre-right of the political spectrum.

      If one looks at Liberal policies in office they keep the status quo; the Senate, introducing a constitution that essentially is a 18th century document, reducing spending to slay the deficit, the National Energy Program was a continuation of Macdonald's National Policy!

      Not to say they don't toss a few liberal programs out to keep people happy; the Millenium Scholarship Fund, Katimavik, Canada Research Chairs. Healthcare lauded by the Liberals as one of their great progressive policies is the work of the CCF and John Diefenbaker who introduced the Hospital Diagnostic Insurance Act to share costs. It should be noted that since the time of Diefenbaker the Federal share of healthcare has gone from 50% to roughly 25% mostly the result of Liberal Governments reducing transfers and tax points.

      Today people seem willing to beleive the Liberal party is "progressive" or "centre-left". Perhaps a realignment has occured but, one can not call the Liberals anything but a small "c" conservative party if one looks at their past.

    6. "Fiscally conservative right, socially progressive left, they balance each other out and meet in the centre. Federally, we alternate between Liberal and Conservative governments. Therefore, the middle voter must be on the centre-right of the political spectrum. "

      Hello, please read that again !! It's illogical isn't it? How can a centre-right support both or alternate between Liberal and Conservative. I'll grant that in the old days of PC conservatives that might have been the case. But not with the CPC. They have pulled the centre away from the centre and moved it well off to the right. So now we have a Centre-Left Liberal party, a solid left NDP party and a hard right CPC. Because the Liberals "centre" is nowhere near as far right as the CPC.

      Get used to it !!

    7. Peter:

      The centre, centre-right encompasses a majority of Canadians. More importantly they form swing constituencies that form or defeat governments. Much of Ontario for example has been critical to the formation of majority governments over the last 20 years-switching from conservative to Liberal and back.

      I think the real problem is so called progressives want to believe there is a natural indigenous centre-left majority in Canada. Why you think the Liberal policy of status quo for the Senate is centre-left is beyond me? Or why support for constitutional monarchy (which Liberals voted for at their last convention) is anything but conservative in nature? Or support for balanced budgets through cutting health and social transfers? A good portion of the Liberal patry's historical success is due to their close relationship with Bay St. Is Bay St. the new rallying point for the centre-left?

      I find it odd that you would judge the Liberal party's place on the political spectrum not through a critical analysis of their policies or leadership but, in relation to the Conservative party. If the Tories have moved the centre to the right as you say, how can you then classify them as "hard right"? The rightward movement of the centre would place the Tories in the Centre or centre-right if the Liberals become centre-left.

      In any case, Canada does not have a left-right political spectrum based upon class. Traditionally Canadian political cleavages form along linguistic, religious and constitutional lines. The relevance of a 19th century European paradigm upon 21st century Canadian politics is limited.

    8. Derek

      In a word "horse puckey" !!

      Stop trying to put the Canadian political spectrum in US terms.

      It ain't the same, get used to it !!

    9. Peter:

      I'll point out the obvious "horse puckey" is two words!

      Try and leave your biases at the door. Instead of making false accusations at me provide some evidence to substantiate your claim the Liberal party is centre-left. I have tried to demonstrate their policies while in and out of government tend to be on the right of the political spectrum.

      Far from trying to place Canadian politics within the paradigm of the US system, it is you who insist the Liberals adhere to an 18th century European paradigm. Whereas, I try and point out that tradiationally in Canada language, culture and constitutionalism define Canadian politics and the politcal spectrum.

      Canada has had few coalition governments but, it is telling that when the have existed they usually are between Liberals and Conservatives not Liberals and left wing parties. Both the Union Government of Borden and the Coalition that ruled BC through the 40-50's were a partnership of Grits and Tories. BY contrast the centre-left coalition has held power but once in Saskatchewan in the mid-1990's and only for one term.

      Peter: you need to get used to the fact that the median voter in Canada is usually centre-right. If the middle voter was centre-left then why have the CCF/ NDP rarely formed government provincially and never at the federal level yet centre-centre-right parties form governments on a regular basis through all regions of the country?

      Maybe once you have an undergraduate degree you'll accept the political realities of Canada.

  3. I'd hardly say the Mustel poll shows the BC Conservatives on the upswing. Mustel had the BC Conservatives at 18% in May, 14% in September and 17% now. Hardly a convincing trend given the MOE. I also become skeptical of any regional breakdown when you're getting into the ~100 respondent range too, though I don't doubt that the BC Conservatives are doing well in the interior.

    I believe the September Mustel poll was lumped in with some questions about the oil industry? I'll try and dig more up. Mustel's a pretty established pollster in BC.

  4. How very interesting. Depending on how you account for the BC Greens on the political spectrum, there's a legitimate argument to be made that the Centre-left is either very near to it, or has easily surpassed majority support in British Columbia.

  5. As a BC native and provincial political junkie, I'm pretty sure that the BC Liberals are going to be crushed in the upcoming election. There are really telling signs that some of the biggest names in the BC Liberal party (vice premier Kevin Falcon, education minister George Abbott) are not planning on even running in the next election. Admittedly, the BC Liberal's political future will largely depend upon the results of the two by-elections that are scheduled for April 19 in Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope, both of which, until recently, were considered safe BC Liberal ridings.

    1. There is a really good possibility that Chilliwack-Hope wil go Conservative, while conventional wisdom says that Port Moody-Coquitlam will go NDP. Liberals better watch their butts.

    2. Both Abbott and Falcon said they have not decided whether to reoffer. However, neither did they announce their political retirements. So, it is disingenious to conclude: (Abbott and Falcon)"are not planning on even running in the next election". Neither has made their decision public.

    3. @Derek Andrew - Learn to read. He said "There are really telling signs that..." meaning that he/she thinks there is still a chance that Abbot, Falcon etc. may still run.

    4. AnonymousApr21:39:

      Obviously I am literate since I responded and quoted the above post. Learn to think critically beofre posting rude and inane comments.

      AnonymousMar2910:40 provides no example of "telling signs" but, is almost certainly referring to recent statements made by Falcon and Abbott in response to questioning by journalists on their re-elections.

      I would suggest that if there are indeed, "really telling signs" that Falcon and Abbott will not run then the author should have elaborated on those telling signs; as is the "really telling signs" are nothing but inuendo and hearsay.

      I stand by my original comment.

  6. got to say that the mustel numbers make more intuitive sense, being that federal Liberals are numerous in the lower mainland, and few in the interior. I know that Cummins is from Delta, but his reputation for homophobia *should* hit his numbers

    1. Cummins' big split with the BC Liberals is from the Campbell daring to sign treaties with first nations groups, including the band in Delta. How dare he....

      Yah, Cummins is the main reason I'm skeptical that the BC Conservatives' numbers will hold up. Once there's actual scrutiny on who the BC Conservatives are, I'm fairly sure their support will take a beating.

      I'm not saying that'll be enough to save the BC Liberals, but I think it'll be enough to keep the BC Cons from taking more than a few seats in the interior, a la BC Reform in the 1990s.

  7. I was surveyed today by Angus Reid regarding BC politics, as well, so there should be another poll coming soon.

  8. I think Christy Clark would make a fantastic leader of the federal Liberal Party. Why doesn't she quit and run for that job. She is the total personification of what it means to be a Liberal in Canada today - perky, pretty, not much upstairs, great at gimmicky photo-ops etc...

    1. Yeah, you got that right. Making a useless person leader of a useless party would be a fantastic idea. Good thinking.

    2. Now you two, that's no way to talk about the next government of Canada (Liberals). As for Christy, well she's the right's sacraficial lamb, isn't she. Much like Kim Campbell back in the day.

  9. Speaking of the NDP:

    1. Actually Eric, this is worth a look. Very interesting results, especially when you consider they used data from (as they call it) "voters", who cast a ballot May 2. So likely to vote again.

    2. Robbins SCE Research is a bad joke if you ask me. Read the commentary that goes with the "polls" (or other random rants and letters on that site) and you'll see what I'm talking about. Not to mention calling oneself the "The Worlds most accurate Public Opinion" raises serious questions about the author's understanding of the word "accurate" as well as the rules of punctuation and grammar.

    3. Oh, and together with the Environics poll looked at earlier here, that makes three national polls in which the NDP are even with or ahead of the Conservatives. Regional numbers suggest the NDP might have returned to May 2011 level support under Mulcair.

      We're eagerly awaiting your analysis, Eric!

  10. new abacus poll confirms Wildrose lead.. can't wait to see the update!

  11. Since the new year, the Forum polls have been by far the highest for the Conservatives and lowest for the Liberals. Their NDP numbers since Jan 23rd were the highest and lowest in seven polls. I looked at this recently in my post here

    I have noticed in the fed election the Forum numbers were at times out of sync.

    Mustel was formerly McIntyre Mustel and has the longest polling series in BC going back to the 1990s. The McIntrye part was Joan McIntrye, now a Liberal MLA. I find that their polls have often been a bit high on the right side of the spectrum, especially the BC Liberals. The September poll, which is somewhere in my office, was the typical size they have always done of about 500. If I find it, I will post the regional numbers, though I tend to find them irrelevant because the samples are too small

  12. The new Forum poll has the NDP tied with the Conservatives at 35% (the highest for the NDP since the election). The Conservatives probably still win government because they have a 12% lead in Ontario.

  13. Éric, there's a new Ontario poll out that I'd love for you to take a look at. It's the second Ontario provincial poll Forum has released this month, and it has the PCs at 34% (a drop of 6) and the Liberals and NDP at 30% (a gain of 2 and 7 respectively).

    What's interesting about the poll is that even though the NDP has a dramatic increase in support (I can only assume this has something to do with Mulcair), Forum actually projects they would lose seats, so It'd be interesting to see your thoughts.

  14. In BC I think that you will find a more thoughtful and effective coalition than the one that the Left imagines it could put together.

    The Left's whining about Harper's hidden social conservative agenda and assault on democracy the fear and loathing that they have for the right totally pales with the scaring the bejebbers out of us should the NDP and the Unions be given the keys to the finances

    In the interior , where I vote, we have a Liberal MLA. If I can see that the NDP has no chance to win I will definitely vote Conservative to send a message to the federal Liberal Preimer Ms. Clark to make accomodations to the realistic moderate hopes of the overtaxed majority of BCers.

    If I see the NDP candidate in my riding has more than a snowballs chance in Heck of winning I will vote for the incumbent Liberal.

    I was polled and said I would vote Conservative.

  15. I think Forum has a very crude amateurish seat projection model. Their own poll has NDP support UP 7 points since the election - which is a huge increase and they have Liberal support down 7 points and Tory support down a point. I am scratching my head trying to figure out how they can project the NDP to lose two seats when their support is up dramaticaly and both other parties are down - that just does not add up.

    I don't think they know what they are doing.

  16. The Forum Poll has the NDP up 2 and the CPC down 1 from what the last Forum poll had them May 1,2011... the day before the election.

    Taken with that frame of reference the latest Forum poll means that there is a very modest Mulcair (leadership convention) bump and the CPC would likely be really close to a Majority depending how much they dominate the 30 new seats.

    The Liberals have stayed the same at 19 in both Forum polls.

  17. Don't trust pollsters01 April, 2012 10:20

    Disclosure of methodology -
    There is a Campaign Reasearch Poll out on the Alberta race. Shows Wildrose ahead 39 to 30.

    details are at

    Why wouldn't this information be shared by any polling firm that wants to be taken seriously.

    The thing that really impresses me is that in their report Campaign states:


    Sample and Response

    Random sample of 18,000 households drawn from Alberta residential phone database of885,250 households.

    Six question interactive touch response (ITR) poll on Monday March 26


    , 2012 between19:00 and 19:42 pm MT.

    Of 17,995 households dialed, 7,532 live answer and 924 responded.

    Respondents under 18 were ineligible to complete the survey (62 respondents).


    Raw data was weighted based on age, gender and region based on the following factors:


    Profile of age and gender by the three regions (Calgary, Edmonton and Rest ofAlberta) in the 2006 Census from Statistics Canada.


    Turnout by age and gender based on Elections Canada survey in Alberta.


    Overall turnout by region based on the 2008 Alberta Provincial Election.


    Adjusted by region to the 2011 Census Population by region


    Sample size by age category (3 categories used), gender and region for a total of 18weighting cells.

  18. This argument about socially progressive and fiscally conservative is just plane silly. Every time, fiscal restraint wins out if you are a Lib. You guys talk left and govern right. All you have to do is look at the Martin Budget. It stoll 60 Billion from EI, cut the civil service by 15%, reduced the number of people who can collect EI, and replaced Health Care funding with the underfunded Health and Social transfer.

    You guys want to have your cake and eat it too. How can you be so disingenuous? And you are wrong about the centre not including you guys, it does. And fortuneately no one is buying your claptrap anymore.

    Stick a fork in yourself son, you are done!

  19. And the Liberals under Paul Martin took us to war...


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