Since the beginning of September, two polls have been released on the provincial situation in British Columbia. Both polls show that the B.C. New Democrats hold a lead of over 20 points, a seemingly insurmountable margin with only eight months to go before the next election. And with the B.C. Liberal government deciding not to call a sitting of the legislature until February 2013, it does not seem like there will be much opportunity for anything to change.
The earlier poll by Forum Research found NDP support to be at 45%, down four points since their previous poll of July 31. The Liberals were unchanged at 23%, while the B.C. Conservatives were up two points to 20%.
The Greens were at 10% while 2% said they would vote for another party.
None of these shifts in support were statistically significant, though the leads that the NDP holds throughout the province certainly are.
The NDP led with 44% in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, down four points, while they were up two points to 51% on Vancouver Island. The party was down 10 points in the Interior/North, however, to 40%.
The Liberals were down two points there to 18%, while they were down three points to 18% on Vancouver Island and up one point to 25% in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The Conservatives were up seven points to 18% on Vancouver Island, two points to 20% in Vancouver, and one point to 24% in the Interior/North, where they are in second place.
The newer poll by Angus-Reid tells the same general story. Angus-Reid was last in the field between July 30 and Aug. 1, and since then the New Democrats were down three points to 46%. The Liberals were up three points to 25% while the Conservatives were unchanged at 19%.
The Greens were down one point to 8% while 1% of respondents said they would vote for another party or independent candidate.
Despite how the poll was widely reported, the gain for the Liberals is statistically insignificant, suggesting that nothing much has occurred in the province.
The NDP has 34% in the Interior and leads with 49% in Metropolitan Vancouver, 50% in the North, and 53% on Vancouver Island. The Liberals trail in second in every region with 28% in the Interior, 26% in the North, 25% in Vancouver, and 24% on the island. The Conservatives are third with 25% in the Interior, 19% in Vancouver, 18% in the North, and 11% on Vancouver Island.
While the next set of polls from British Columbia will tell us whether the B.C. Liberals are on an upwards trajectory, the only thing these polls suggest as a potential trend is that the New Democrats may have slipped a little from their 49% of mid-summer. They appear to be down most significantly in the Interior, the only area of the province that appears to be somewhat competitive.
The seat projection model for British Columbia is still rudimentary. A new regional model will be launched soon, likely in November.
The two surveys included approval ratings for the leaders and showed similar results.
Christy Clark's approval stands at between 26% and 28%, with her disapproval sitting at between 56% and 62%. Strikingly, those British Columbians who intend to vote for the Liberals are quite loyal to Clark. Her approval rating among Liberal voters is 65%, according to Forum, only marginally lower than the ratings for John Cummins (66%) and Adrian Dix (68%) among their own supporters.
Province-wide, Dix has an approval rating of between 43% and 45%, with a disapproval rating of between 29% and 38%. That is a rather wide spread, with Angus-Reid finding the disapproval rating being higher. The source appears to be those who are not sure - they represent 29% of the population according to Forum but only 16% according to Angus-Reid. That suggests that Dix may have hit a wall in terms of growth potential, since a decrease in "undecided" opinion increases the proportion who disapprove of the NDP leader.
Cummins has a very high unknown factor, at between 33% and 39%. His approval rating sits at between 22% and 23%, while his disapproval rating is between 38% and 45%. Here again, the lower "not sures" in Angus-Reid's poll has the effect of increasing Cummins' disapproval rating. This also occurred for Christy Clark, though to a somewhat lesser degree. We may infer from this that undecideds will be more likely to swing towards the B.C. Liberals, though not significantly.
Based on these numbers, and considering that Dix's NDP has held a wide lead over Clark's Liberals for about as long as time remains before the next election, many of the B.C. Liberals' MLAs will not be working in Victoria in nine months' time. In the end, their break from having to sit in the legislature until February will probably be good practice.