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bc_nov2012
(11/23/12) -

Governing Liberals Gain, New Democrats Lead in British Columbia

The BC Conservatives drop to their lowest level in 18 months, with the approval rating for John Cummins still in the teens.

The governing BC Liberals have increased their standing in British Columbia, but continue to trail the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of a representative provincial sample of 800 British Columbian adults also shows that public backing for the BC Conservative Party has practically halved in eight months, from an all-time high of 23 per cent in March to just 12 per cent in November.

Voting Intention

Across British Columbia, 47 per cent of decided voters and leaners (-2 since October) would support the NDP candidate in their riding if a provincial election were held tomorrow. The governing BC Liberals are in second place with 29 per cent (+3), followed by the BC Conservatives with 12 per cent (-4) and the BC Green Party with nine per cent (+2).

The NDP is still the most popular party in all four major regions of the province, climbing to 62 per cent in Vancouver Island, but dropping slightly to 42 per cent in Metro Vancouver.

In the Interior, the NDP is at 41 per cent, but the close race that was observed earlier this year between BC Liberals and BC Conservatives has ceased. The governing party (32%) now holds a clear lead over the provincial Tories (16%).

The Conservatives have also lost ground among women (13%, third to the BC Liberals at 25% and well behind the NDP at 49%). The BC Liberals have gained four points among female voters (going from 21% in October to 25% this month), and are clearly the most popular party in the highest income demographic (47%, with the NDP second at 34%).

The NDP’s retention rate this month is 89 per cent. The BC Liberals are currently keeping 62 per cent of the voters who supported the party in the 2009 provincial election—their best showing in 2012. While the governing party is losing support to both the NDP (16%) and the BC Conservatives (also 16%), many former BC Liberal voters remain undecided.

Approval, Momentum, Best Premier and Issues

Almost half of British Columbians (48%) approve of the way Official Opposition and NDP leader Adrian Dix is handling his duties. Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark has gained three-points (29%), while the rating is lower for Green Party leader Jane Sterk (25%) and BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins (15%).

On the Best Premier question, Dix remains in first place (28%), followed by Clark (16%). Cummins has fallen to five per cent, but 48 per cent of respondents did not select any of the four party leaders as the best person for the province’s top political job.

Dix has consistently been the only party leader with a positive momentum score (+7 this month), while Sterk (-2), Cummins (-32) and Clark (-36) all have a negative rating. The proportion of respondents who say their opinion of the Premier has worsened in the past three months has dropped, from 51 per cent in October to 44 per cent this month.

The economy is still the most important issue facing British Columbia (26%), followed by health care (17%), leadership (12%) and the environment (10%). NDP leader Dix remains the best person to handle health care (33%), education (30%) and crime (21%). Dix and Clark are now virtually tied on two issues: the economy (23% for the NDP leader, 22% for the incumbent Premier) and federal/provincial relations (21% each). Sterk is regarded as the best steward of the environment (28%, followed by Dix at 22%).

Analysis

The NDP continues to hold the upper hand in British Columbia’s political scene, buoyed by an encouraging retention rate and the fact that roughly half of respondents are satisfied with the performance of its leader. The party is holding on to its support base in Vancouver Island, and remains ahead in Metro Vancouver and the Interior.

However, the BC Liberals are displaying positive momentum for the first time in months. The three-point gain in voting intention is accompanied by tighter numbers on the issue that British Columbians deem the most important: the economy. Premier Clark had trailed Opposition Leader Dix on this question for several months, and is now once again being seen as a capable economic manager. Still, Dix is solidly ahead on the Best Premier question, and Clark’s approval rating is still below the 30 per cent mark.

The survey also shows that the BC Conservatives have been struggling to connect with voters. In the Interior, where they were in a close race to become the most popular centre-right alternative, they are now a distant third. The approval rating for Cummins is low, and voters who may have been disenchanted with the BC Liberals a few months ago, are no longer looking at the BC Conservatives as a viable option.

The Green Party’s two-point gain is also noteworthy, and is based on its strength with two core groups: women (12%) and voters aged 18-to-34 (17%). The level of name recognition for party leader Sterk remains a concern, with less than six months to go before the provincial election.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

CONTACT:

Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion
+877 730 3570
mario.canseco@angus-reid.com

Methodology: From November 21 and November 22, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 800 randomly selected British Columbia adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of British Columbia. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.