Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Time running out for the B.C. Liberals

The projection and forecasts for the upcoming election in British Columbia still show the B.C. New Democrats under Adrian Dix heavily favoured to win on May 14, with a 95.5% chance of winning the popular vote with less than 100 days to go before ballots are cast.

A new poll by EKOS Research for iPolitics showed that the NDP was still well in front and caused little change in the forecast. The New Democrats dropped slightly by 2.4 points to 45.8%, while the B.C. Liberals are down 0.3 points to 29.7% in the projection for Feb. 10. With a small uptick in metropolitan Vancouver (worth 2.7 points for the Liberals), Christy Clark's party picked up one seat in the projection. The NDP is now projected to win 65 seats, with the Liberals taking 19 and one independent being re-elected. If an election were held today, the New Democrats would have a 97.6% chance of winning it.

The B.C. Conservatives are up 1.5 points to 13.1% and the Greens are up 1.1 points to 9.6%, though both parties are not projected to win any seats.

The projection ranges do not envision anything other than an NDP majority to be in the cards with current support levels, though the forecast still considers the possibility of a Liberal win plausible. It is far from likely, however. Margins of this size are rarely overcome in so little time.
The forecast ranges are quite wide, however, due to the volatility introduced by the EKOS poll and its unusual results.

EKOS was last in the field Nov. 20-Dec. 3. That poll was not released to the public at the time, but since then the New Democrats dropped 2.2 points to 39% while the Liberals were up 3.5 points to 27.4%. The Conservatives were up 3.2 points to 14.6%, and the Greens were down 5.7 points to 13.5%. Fully 5.5% of respondents said they would vote for an independent candidate or another party.

Only the drop in Green support appears to be statistically significant, but that is understandable. When EKOS was last in the field, the federal by-election in Victoria in which the Greens finished a close second was taking place. It is likely that had an effect on the numbers.

Generally speaking, though, the poll's results are out of the ordinary. The last time the B.C. NDP was at 39% in any survey was in January 2012, 29 polls ago. The last time that the Greens were above 13% (excluding EKOS's last poll) was in December 2011, 30 polls ago. And the last time that support for "Other" was over 5% was in February 2011, 37 polls ago. You get the picture.

That high "other" result might be due to the large number of well-known independent candidates that will be running in the next election. But in EKOS's last poll, when there weren't as many independent candidates known to be running, support for other parties was still an unusually high 4.3%. It must be said that higher "other" results are par for the course for EKOS, though that might actually do them good in this election.

The lead for the NDP is smaller than other polls have shown, but the demographics work to their advantage. The New Democrats lead by a margin of 46% to 27% among 45-64 year olds and even by two points (37% to 35%) among British Columbians over the age of 65. These are the age groups that do most of the voting.

The NDP also leads among women by 24 points, though the race is close among men: 34% to 33%.

The EKOS poll had an interesting breakdown of provincial support by federal allegiance. It shows that 45% of federal Conservatives support the B.C. Liberals and 37% support the B.C. Conservatives, while 85% of federal New Democrats support the provincial NDP. Most (58%) federal Liberals side with the B.C. Liberals, but 28% of them support the B.C. NDP as well.

If we look at it another way, we see that Dix has less of a balancing act to play. The B.C. Liberal electorate votes 54% Conservative and 39% Liberal at the federal level. By comparison, the B.C. NDP's supporters are 63% NDP at the federal level, and only 13% supporters of the federal Tories and Liberals apiece. It makes for an easier 'coalition' of voters to keep together.

The EKOS poll might be a little out of step in the details, but it is broadly in line with what other surveys have shown: a double-digit lead for the New Democrats and relatively significant support levels for both the Conservatives and Greens. It is also in agreement with other polls that the changes in support over the last few months have been marginal at best. That is good for the NDP, but not so good for the B.C. Liberals.

16 comments:

  1. I tell ya, EKOS has been coming out with some odd numbers of late. Most noticeably, they consistently tend to report much higher Green support than any other pollster (including in their federal polls). However, I notice that in their newest federal poll, as they occasionally have in the past, they provide an alternative set of numbers for "likely voters" only—CPC 34%, NDP 30%, LPC 21%, GPC 7%, BQ 6%—which are actually very close to Abacus' latest numbers. This has me wondering whether most of the other pollsters routinely apply some sort of "likelihood to vote" weighting to their results whereas EKOS doesn't. One thing I really appreciated when following the polls in the U.S. presidential election was how most of the pollsters clearly distinguished between their numbers for "all registered voters" vs. "likely voters". Canadian pollsters, other than EKOS, don't seem to be so transparent about it. Do you have any insight into this, Éric? i.e. whether pollsters are weighting by likelihood to vote?

    Dom

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    1. No, because that is one of the things that pollsters don't talk about. If you ask, many will say that their weighting methods are "proprietary", or that they do a little bit of turnout adjustments. But that's about it, and it isn't made very clear how things are done. It is frustrating.

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  2. Hmm. Perhaps the BC Cons have bottomed out after their disasters at the end of last year, and are going to come back to the 13%-16% range. Yet another problem for Christy Clark.

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    1. Now if the BC Cons brain trust can only keep their mouths shut about their leader until after the election, they might even beat the 16% and maybe even get a seat in the Leg.

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  3. It must be somewhat disheartening for the BC NDP to be stuck at support slightly lower than 4 years ago. They are leading in the popular vote by default and even there seem to be losing ground.

    Although unlikely a unite the right campaign would theorhetically provide the Liberals with another term in government.

    These numbers do not surprise me. Adrian Dix and Christy Clark are polarising figures in their own way. The BCNDP would have been better off with Mike Farnworth or John Horgan and the Liberals with George Abbott. BC would have been better off with a leader able to build consensus instead of appealing to ideological extremes.

    The Dunbar Debater

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    1. Except that they aren't "stuck at support slightly lower than 4 years ago". In this EKOS poll they are lower, but look at Eric's projection. The NDP is projected at 45.8%, or an increase of 3.6% over 2009. In a highly polarized political in a 2.5 party environment, 45.8% is more than enough to be comfortable. In fact, in 2009 the Liberals got 45.2% and a comfortable majority government. So I'd say the NDP can be very heartened to be above 45%.

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    2. In the EKOS poll the NDP are 3% below the 2009 election. The Liberals recieved 45.85% last election

      Will Dix follow Tim Hudak and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

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    3. Christy Clark was the leftist option among the Liberal leadership candidates. It's not like they chose Kevin Falcon as leader.

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    4. Ira,

      Exactly, the leftisit option, not the consensus or centrist Liberal candidate hence, extreme.

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  4. Interesting that the BC Liberals blew their brains out when they "changed their minds" about the HST. Nothing they have done since then has allowed them to recover.

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    1. I for one am glad that's what happens to a party that makes such a fundamental and blatant lie to their electorate. It's no more than the BCLP deserve.

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  5. I think I was polled as part of this EKOS poll.

    In an election with such unpalateable major parties as options, I would expect IVR to drive support to third parties. For example, I told them I was going to vote Green, because there's no way I'm going to vote for the other three big parties. But I've also never voted Green in my life, and I'm not likely to start now.

    I'll almost certainly vote for an independent candidate, or some small fringe party, but the structure of the survey drove me to pick one of these four parties. So I did.

    I'm also (demographically speaking) not your typical Green supporter, so just a handful of people like me could well have skewed the weighting somewhat.

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  6. The budget yesterday was an act of hara-kiri. Clark is now alienating the support she has left from business and high income earners suspicious of the NDP. This will definitely affect donations and votes from her base. I wager there is at least a 50% chance that Liberals are headed for a '91 Socreds style meltdown. This presents a great opportunity for the Conservatives if they can capitalize on it. I would expect turnout will be low.

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  7. Is the high independent number due to EKOS prompting for 'Other' while most pollsters only record it if it is volunteered?

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    1. IVR and online pollsters prompt for "other", and those are most of the polls we've seen so far. Not sure if Justason or Mustel prompts.

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    2. The high independent number may be partially explained by the high number of independents in the Legislature currently 4. van Dongen, Bob Simpson and Vicki Huntington are likely to run again and I suspect each has at least a 50/50 chance of re-election.

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