Tuesday, April 9, 2013

B.C. New Democrats still in control

There have been few major changes in the projection and forecast for the British Columbia provincial election, but all that means is that the time remaining for the B.C. Liberals to turn things around has continued to shrink. The odds that the party would be able to comeback and beat the B.C. New Democrats in the popular vote are still less than 50-to-1.

The New Democrats continue to lead with a projected 48.7% of the vote, down 1.2 points from the projection of Mar. 25 (which used polling data running to Mar. 19). The Liberals are down 0.5 points to 29.9%, while the B.C. Conservatives remain steady at 10.4%. The B.C. Greens picked up 1.7 points and are now projected to have 9.2% support.

Due to Liberal gains in the B.C. Interior, the party has picked up one seat since Mar. 25 and is now projected to win 21. The New Democrats dropped one to 63, while one independent is projected to win. In terms of the ranges, the New Democrats would be expected to win between 51 and 73 seats if an election were held today, compared to between 9 and 33 seats for the Liberals and 0-4 for the independents.

Problematic for the Liberals is that the high forecast for May 14 has fallen from 54 to only 43 seats - the bare minimum for a majority government. As time runs out, even the absolute best case scenario is precarious for the party.

Regionally, things are relatively steady in Metro Vancouver and in the Interior/North. In and around the city, the NDP leads with 50.9% (-0.4 points) to 30.9% for the Liberals (-0.7) and 8.9% for the Conservatives (-0.5). The Greens made a 1.5-point gain to reach 6.9%.

In the Interior and North, the NDP is down 1.6 points to 41.3%, costing them one seat. The Liberals made their only regional gain here, picking up a bare 0.7 points to reach 32.7%. The Conservatives are down 0.6 points to 14.7% while the Greens are up 1.6 points to 9.7%.

There was more movement on Vancouver Island, where the Greens are up 2.4 points to 13.8%. The New Democrats are down 3.7 points to 51.7% and the Liberals 1.9 points to 23.2%. The Conservatives made the largest gain anywhere here, with a 3.1-point uptick to 10.5%.
The update was brought about by a new poll from Insights West, a polling firm based in British Columbia that was launched last year and whose president had previously been with Ipsos-Reid. This is their first foray into provincial politics, as far as I can tell, and the results are well within the norm of what other surveys have shown. Insights West also has very good disclosure, with its report containing both weighted and unweighted samples. They use their own panel for their polling.

The survey shows 45% for the NDP, 28% for the Liberals, 15% for the Greens, and 10% for the Conservatives. They are neither the highest nor lowest recent results for the NDP, Liberals, or Conservatives - but they are on the high-end for the Greens. We will have to see what the other firms say about the Greens as the campaign kicks off.

The Conservatives being at 10% is interesting, in part because it is within two points of where 10 of the last 11 polls have pegged the party's support to be. Why is that interesting? Because the UBC prediction market has consistently had the Conservatives at or just under 20% since mid-March. Whatever the market is recording, the polls have yet to see.

One in five respondents were undecided in this survey. The undecideds did lean slightly to the B.C. Liberals (25% to 20%), but not nearly enough to make much difference. The gender gap remains, with the NDP enjoying an 11-point advantage among men but a 24-point edge among women. They also lead by 18 points among voters aged 55 and over, a key demographic.

At the regional level, there are few surprises in this poll. The New Democrats are well ahead in both Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, while the race is closer in the Interior and North. The strong Green result on Vancouver Island has been noted before in other polls, though this is the highest result I have on record.

Steady as she goes, then. The campaign will need to shake things up radically in order to put the result in any doubt, but it will be interesting to see where the Green numbers go from here. For many British Columbians, voting for the Greens might become a very plausible option if the NDP looks like it is set to easily win - their vote might not be wasted or inadvertently send a Liberal to Victoria. Too much of that sentiment in NDP-Liberal races, though, and the New Democrats could be in trouble in a few individual ridings.