Friday, May 10, 2013

Gap continues to close, but time running out in B.C.

The newest projection for Tuesday's B.C. election shows the gap between the B.C. New Democrats and B.C. Liberals narrowing further, to 6.3 points. And for the first time, the high seat projection range for the Liberals puts them just over the bar of a majority government (43 seats). But with only a few days remaining, Christy Clark is still just a 10-to-1 shot of being re-elected.

The New Democrats are projected to take 43% of the vote based on current polling, or between 40.5% and 45.5%. The Liberals have increased to 36.8% (or between 34.4% and 39.2%), but there is still enough volatility in the polls to give the NDP as little as 37% by election day or as much as 49%. Suffice to say, at those extremes the Liberals are either decimated or re-elected. But they are extremes.

These numbers give the New Democrats 52 seats to 32 for the Liberals, but the projected high and low ranges now overlap: 40-65 for the NDP and 16-43 for the Liberals. Those are rather wide as the amount of polling data has thinned out (it should beef up again between now and Monday night) and the race is rather close in the Interior and North. But that 43 is the highest the Liberals have been in the projection ranges. The forecast ranges have tightened up a little as some older polls have dropped out of consideration, but they nevertheless still envision anything from an NDP landslide to a Liberal majority. We shall see if they will tighten up further, but with the changes that have occurred in the last two weeks it is perhaps wise to keep our expectations to a minimum.

However, the NDP is still the heavy favourite. A 20-seat edge in the projection will be right 91.7% of the time, so the odds that Clark's Liberals will prove the polls (and thus my projection) wrong are not very high. The odds that they can overcome the 6.3-point margin in six days (four remain before the vote, but the last bit of polling was out of the field on E-6) are slightly larger, at 9.5%, but we're still talking about an exceptional case. The NDP remains the easy favourite to win, but we will have to see what Angus-Reid and Ipsos-Reid have to say in the coming hours and days.
I have some mixed feelings about the two polls that were added to the projection, as they are both from firms dipping their toes into the B.C. campaign for the first time (publicly, at least).

We have already heard from Oraclepoll as they were commissioned to do riding surveys for local newspapers in Kamloops and Prince George. But they haven't put out a province-wide survey since November 2011.

They show a closer race than everyone but Forum has indicated, but we should consider that Oraclepoll is the only firm using live-callers to have put out a provincial poll out in this campaign. Perhaps that methodological difference means something.

If we look at their last poll from 2011, we see that it pegged the NDP at 44%, the Liberals at 25%, and the Greens at 16%. By comparison, the polls taken in the two months before and after that Oraclepoll averaged 41% for the NDP, 30% for the Liberals, and 10% for the Greens. If anything, Oracelpoll was showing lower numbers for the Liberals and higher ones for the Greens than other surveys at the time. That does not give us much reason to suggest that Oraclepoll's methodology is conditioned to over-estimate Liberal support, and thus show a narrower gap, but their methods may have changed in the last two years.

The amount of available information about this poll is disappointing, as we don't even have regional breakdowns. But their provincial results aren't out of step with other surveys to any significant degree.

The survey from Hill and Knowlton came out of the woodwork even more. The Victoria Times-Colonist commissioned the poll from Oraclepoll, but this one from H&K was put out in a press release. It was done with H&K's online panel, and did not show any odd results. Aside from a closer race in (small sample) Vancouver Island, their regional breakdowns fell well within the norm.

Though I don't consider Hill and Knowlton to be a polling firm (they do lobbying and public relations), it should come as no surprise that this important company would have its own public opinion research wing to help it advise clients. And considering they are putting their reputation at stake to some degree by releasing these numbers, it seems safe to conclude that they are reasonably confident in them. They have no particular reason not to be.

But as both Hill and Knowlton and Oraclepoll are publishing for the first time in this campaign, it is impossible to really say what these numbers represent in terms of a trend. Is the gap narrowing? Or if these two firms had been in the field earlier in the campaign, would they have shown a similar gap? We don't know, but other polls have been showing the same sort of trends. It should make Tuesday night interesting.


  1. Suppose the Liberals pull this one out and win a small majority. Suppose further that Christy Clark loses her seat in doing so (something I'm fairly confident she will do - the NDP has a terrific candidate opposing her).

    How do the Liberals respond to that? Clark would have just lead them to a highly improbably victory, but lost her seat in what had previously been a fairly safe riding.

    1. I think in that case one of her veteran backbenchers in a solid Liberal riding will have to figuratively fall on his/her sword, resign, allowing her to run for the seat in the byelection. If she loses that however, and narrows the majority even more, then she's gonzo.

    2. Vancouver-Point Grey is not a safe Liberal riding. It is a swing riding albeit one that generally favours centre-right candidates. It only looks safe because Gordo held it since 1996.

      David Eby has rubbed people in Point Grey the wrong way. His policy positions are too far left for many in the area both economically and socially. He is certainly favoured to win but, it will be close. The BCCA has a very mixed reputation on the West Side.

      I agree with pinkobme if Clark loses her seat but, wins the election a Liberal in a safe seat (Vancouver-Quilchena) will have to fall on his sword and let Christy run.

    3. Whoops! I meant the BCCLA.

  2. I don't think the Liberals have any real chance at this point. The NDP has proven in the past (ie. the 1996 election) that their vote is more diverse across BC than the BC Liberals, who are more concentrated in stronghold areas like Richmond and Kelowna.

    1. Part of that could have been incumbency, which would be working in the BC Liberals' favour now though.

      Don't underestimate how much demographics and voting patterns have changed since 1996 either. In 1996 there was an NDP majority, yet my riding (Delta North) elected a BC Liberal MLA. With BC Liberal majority governments in 2005 and 2009, my riding went the opposite direction of the province and voted in an NDP MLA. Things change.

  3. 10-1? Interestingly, using a totally different methodology, I'd actually arrive at the same conclusion this time.

    By the way, can someone tell me how on earth no one ordered a riding poll for Oak-Bay-Gordon-Head?? Seems like a big missed opportunity.

  4. I agree with ryan, the distribution of support for the ndp is less efficient than it was in 1996. They now "waste" a lot of votes on the island for example. If the popular vote was tied, I would predict a very small liberal majority. Sadly, I don't think the popular vote will be tied. Alberta can expect some BC refugees in the next few years lol.

    1. @ Matthew Beasley.

      Matthew you write, "They (the NDP) now "waste" a lot of votes on the island for example. If the popular vote was tied, I would predict a very small liberal majority."


      While the NDP have some wasted votes on the island, overall, most political pundits say it's the BC Liberals who have more wasted votes, Many of the BC Libs votes are wasted in wealthy and Bible belt ridings.

      An indication that this is true was shown in the 1996 BC election. The BC Liberals received 41.82% of the vote and the NDP only received 39.45% yet the NDP won the election with 6 more seats than the BC Liberals.

      If it's virtually a tie in the popular vote, (although I think the NDP will end up with somewhere between 3% and 8% more votes than the BC Libs), the NDP will end up with a majority government.

  5. For what it's worth, myfinal prediction:

    Seat count:
    Liberals 31
    NDP 50
    Greens 1
    Conservatives 0
    Independents 3

    Popular vote:

    Liberals 36%
    NDP 43 %
    Green 11%
    Conservatives 8%
    Other 2%

    1. Oh crap, you had to start this. Okay, I'm game.
      NDP 42
      Liberals 40
      Independents 3
      No idea what the popular vote will look like but I expect the Greens and Conservatives will lose some strength to strategic voting.
      You could flip the Liberal and NDP seats as well, it's going to be that close.
      Tuesday is going to be a very interesting day.

    2. The Conservative poll numbers are almost certainly too high as they are only running candidates in 2/3 of the ridings. I believe Eric corrects for this in his projection.

      I do not know if the NDP is less efficient than 1996 but, my anecdotal experience is; newer immigrants of the last 10 years have a far more conservative streak compared to immigrants who arrived in the 20th century.

    3. One thing we can also apply from previous provincial elections to this one is that the NDP almost always poll lower than their actual electoral results (as was the case with 2005 and 2009), while the BC Liberals have generally polled higher and have ended up with smaller electoral results (again, 2005 and 2009). I bet the NDP will get around 45% of the vote, maybe more, while the Liberals will get around 35%.

  6. If the Liberals were to win and Christy loses in Point grey and if a by-election is needed I don't think Quilchena would be the place that she would run as it will have elected a new member - to me the most logical would be West Vancouver - Ralph Sultan is what 80 years old!

    1. West Van is also a likely place for a defeated leader to run but, Quilchena is the safest seat in the Province for the Liberals.

  7. Two polls have come out after my "final prediction" already lol. I may have to change it. Looks like it will be a squeaker.

    Never give up! Never surrender! (Waves red and blue flag)

  8. Two new polls (Forum and Ipsos) just to make your post out of date Eric. Lol.

  9. Tonight, Angus Reid released a new poll. The polling was done yesterday and today, making it the most recent poll. It indicates the NDP has increased its lead over the BC Liberals by 9%.

    When Eric updates his assessment and includes this poll, it will be interesting to see what his seat projection will be. Since Eric blends the various polls to get a, hopefully, more accurate result, I would imagine the NDP lead would be around 7.5% (but I will defer to Eric on this matter).

    If only the Angus Reid poll was used, I would estimate the BC Liberals would be reduced to somewhere between 12 and 19 seats.

    When Eric blends the various polls, I would guess the BC Libs might obtain around 28 seats. Since Eric has more expertise and data at his disposal, I look forward to his seat projection when the new polls (especially Angus Reid) are utilized.

    1. Angus Reid looks to be the outlier in the new batch of polls released over the past couple of days. It shows both the NDP lead increasing and Dix's numbers as best premier numbers increasing.

      I have seen no evidence to confirm that. In fact, the numbers have been shifting the other way on both counts.

    2. Keep in mind that on the eve of the Alberta election, Angus Reid had Redford trailing by a larger margin, and Redford won with a resounding majority.

      Angus Reid did show the NDP lead increasing by a statistically insignificant margin. Forum and Ipsos showed it decreasing by a statistically insignificant margin.

      Given the volatility of the polls (and the poor track record of polls in this country), I think it's clear that this election could go either way. That being said, given the polls we do have, an NDP government is more likely than a Liberal one.

    3. The apparent discrepancy between the new Angus Reid poll and the others might be at least partially explained by the following (from the PDF report):

      "The online survey of a representative provincial sample of 808 British Columbian adults was conducted using the “Real Ballot” technique, which allows voters to select their preference using an electronic ballot that mirrors the one they will actually cast on election day. This approach eliminates the possibility of voters supporting parties that did not register a candidate in their constituency, and enables respondents to be aware of all of the contenders who stand to represent them in the Legislative Assembly."

      Just like the "correction" Éric's been applying to account for the fact that poll respondents will occasionally say they're voting Green or Conservative in ridings where these parties aren't actually fielding candidates, in the Angus Reid poll this seems to have resulted in a noticeable decrease in Green and Conservative support to the benefit of the NDP and Liberals.

      Éric, I'm guessing you won't apply the correction to this particular poll when entering it into your model since it's basically already factored in?

      And just to stir things up even more, Justason released the following numbers for May 8-9:

      NDP 45 Lib 31 Green 14 Con 8


    4. I'll still be applying the adjustment, since it is not based on the number of candidates but simply on how pollsters have over-estimated Green parties and parties not present in the legislature in other elections (including when they have full or nearly full slates).

  10. Liberals will win a landslide majority.

    1. Just about certain of that.

      A/R has laid it out in numbers....

      Just 2 days before the Alberta election Wildrose 41 PC 32..

      Now just before the BC election: NDP 45 Lib 36.

      The long time incumbent Alberta PC / BC Lib being led by very questionable Women leaders that were unelected Premiers replacing a disgraced unpopular past leader who had easily won a majority last time the voters.

      The challengers are far away from the centre. So much that they have to scare anyone paying the slightest attention.

      The votes of the incumbents were supposed to be siphoned off by the Liberals in Alberta and Cons in BC and both decided overwhelmingly to support the status quo rather than let the mavericks win.

      Both Wildrose and the BC NDP were not shy about stating their radical new directions.

      Why can't the pollsters see this coming?

      Maybe the pollsters (AR) only get the inside politics people who really want change to reply to their polls??? Or people don't trust pollsters/lobbyists and straight out lie to them?

      Big Wildrose and NDP victories do not pass the smell test.

      Things are really not that bad in either BC or Alberta to throw the bums out.

      You have to be consistently corrupt and doing a really bad job for a long time to get tossed out. Federal Liberals, Quebec Liberals and Ontario liberals hung on to power being for a long time being much worse than the BC liberals.

    2. There's been an increase in undecideds too in these polls, hasn't there?

    3. You're being very melodramic, BC VOR. The BC NDP are about as centrist as any party I've ever seen. Their positions remind me of positions 70's Conservatives such as Joe Clark might have taken. (The minimum length of a shift will be increased to 3 hours? How did businesses ever stay solvent back in the 20th century when we had 4 hour minimum shifts under "business" parties?) The most "radical" part of the NDP platform is banning political contributions from companies and unions. How is that "scary"?

      You say the federal Liberals were a lot worse than the BC Liberals. IMO, the BC Liberals are much worse than the federal Liberals ever were. (I'm not familiar enough with the Ontario Liberals to say anything about them.) Now obviously both of our opinions are just that. But I do think it's safe to say that you are very much underestimating how much people who support the Greens or the NDP dislike the BC Liberals.

      To return to election tactics, in Alberta the challenging party was the most right-wing of the four, the incumbent party was the second most right-wing, and the two minor parties were on the left. So voters leaving the minor parties could be expected to predominantly go to the PC's. In BC there is one minor party to the right of the Liberals and another minor party to the left of the NDP, so there isn't any particular reason to think that voters leaving minor parties for major ones at the last minute will have any large net effect.

  11. Eric, are you applying your star candidate bonus to Andrew Weaver and John Cummins? Their numbers seem a bit low.

  12. One of many differences between BC and Alberta politics is that Wildrose in AB was a novelty party with no history...they had only ever elected one MLA and had taken less than 10% of the vote in the previous election. Alberta is also essentially a one party state where people grow up thinking that being PC in Alberta is like being catholic in Ireland! In contrast the BC NDP has been in power in the past and came close to winning in 2005 and 2009 and took 42% both time

  13. Heard today that Global BC's Keith Baldrey spoke to both camps about their internal polling numbers.

    For those who are not in the know - Keith Baldrey, as well as the Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer, have always been considered to be BC's top political reporters.

    Keith Baldrey states that top officials within the BC Liberal camp tell him that the gap is narrowing. OTOH, top officials within the BC NDP tell him that the gap has narrowed to 4% based upon their own internal polling numbers.

    That 4% in favour of the BC NDP would still result in an NDP majority government.

    The question is - Will that Liberal momentum continue over the next four days?

  14. OTOH its in the BC NDP's interest for people to think the election will be close - so they would likely be spinning to the media that it was close even if they knew they were ahead by 10 points.

    1. Doubtful. Both Baldrey and Palmer have close contacts with these people and the info they get from both camps alwayscorroborates each other.

      Just look at Friday's Angus Reid poll and the age groups:

      18 - 34: 26% spread in favour of the NDP (doubtful again and why poll is likely skewed))

      34 - 54: 2% spread in favour of the NDP;

      55+ 3% spread in favour of the NDP;

      And those last two age groups are the most likely to vote with the momentum shifting in the Libs favour from the previous Angus Reid poll.

      And then we look at the leader's tours from Friday to Saturday. Dix was mainly in NDP-held ridings while Clark was also mainly in NDP-held ridings. Even made a special trip up to the NDP-held riding of North Island on Van Isle yesterday for a large rally. What does that tell us?

      Again, the key question is: Will the Liberal momentum continue over the weekend and into voting day?

      If it does, then the final riding results will be very close.

  15. Eric,

    Full credit to you for being just about the only pundit to even acknowledge this was possible. I think you deserve a lot of praise for that.

    As your long suffering BC Liberal reader, I have just one request - that you spread the word about the lesson we all learned from today (yesterday?)'s election. Never give up, never surrender!

  16. LIBERAL 50
    NDP 33
    GREEN 1
    OTHER 0

    This is a major wipeout for the NDP !! Now what does it say to the rest of the country ?


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