The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) maintains a comfortable advantage as voters in British Columbia prepare for the start of the provincial electoral campaign, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with CTV and the Globe and Mail has found.
The online survey of a representative provincial sample of 804 British Columbian adults also shows that less than a quarter of respondents believe the BC Liberals should be re-elected into power on May 14.
Across British Columbia, 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners (-3 since March) would cast a ballot for the NDP candidate in their riding if the provincial election were held tomorrow. The governing BC Liberals are second with 28 per cent (=), followed by the BC Greens with 13 per cent (+2) and the BC Conservatives with 12 per cent (+1). Three per cent of respondents would vote for other parties, or an independent candidate in their riding.
Practically half of decided female voters (49%) would support the NDP if the election were held today, compared to 24 per cent who would back the BC Liberals. Among male voters, the NDP is ahead by 11 points (42% to 31%). The NDP is leading across all three age demographics, while the BC Liberals get their best showing among British Columbians over the age of 55 (33%, with the NDP at 45%) and trail the BC Greens among respondents aged 18-to-34 (18% to 22%, with the NDP at 47%). The BC Liberals hold a nine-point advantage over the NDP among respondents who live in households with an annual income of over $100,000 (43% to 34%).
In Metro Vancouver, the NDP holds a 15-point lead over the BC Liberals (45% to 30%). In Vancouver Island, the governing party has dropped to third place (19%), behind the surging BC Greens (22%) and the NDP (45%). The race is closer in the Southern Interior, where the NDP is ahead of the BC Liberals by 11 points (43% to 32%).
The NDP is holding on to four-in-five voters (82%) who supported the party in the 2009 provincial election under Carole James. The BC Liberals have a retention rate of 60 per cent as the campaign is about to begin, with three-in-ten of their 2009 voters now saying they will support either the BC NDP (16%) or the BC Conservatives (14%).
Approval, Momentum, Best Premier and Issues
The approval rating for Official Opposition and NDP leader Adrian Dix fell by six points since March to 41 per cent, and his disapproval rating increased by four points to 43 per cent. Still, Dix holds considerably better numbers on this question than Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark (27% approve, 63% disapprove). BC Green leader Jane Sterk has an approval rating of 29 per cent, while BC Conservative leader John Cummins checks in at 18 per cent.
No leader holds a positive momentum score this time, with 46 per cent of respondents saying that their opinion of Clark has worsened over the past three months (for a momentum score of -38), and 30 per cent saying they now have a more negative view of Dix (for a momentum score of -10). The scores for Cummins and Sterk are -14 and -1 respectively.
Clark increased her standing on the Best Premier question by two points since March (18%), but still trails Dix by double digits (28%). Sterk and Cummins are at six per cent each, while 43 per cent of respondents cannot pick any of none of the four party leaders for the top political job, or remain undecided.
The economy remains the top issue facing British Columbia (28%), followed by health care (17%), leadership (16%), the environment (8%) and education (6%). Respondents who will vote for the BC Liberals are more likely to say that the economy is the top issue (45%) than those who support the BC Conservatives (30%), the BC Greens (22%) and the BC NDP (20%). One-in-four Green voters (25%) identify the environment as the most pressing concern.
Dix is regarded as the best person to handle education (35%), health care (34%), the economy (27%), and crime (21%). The NDP leader is virtually tied with the incumbent on federal provincial relations (21% to 20%), and trails Sterk on the environment by eight points (29% to 21%).
Across the province, 61 per cent of respondents think it is time for a change in British Columbia and would like to see a different provincial party elected into power, while 22 per cent would prefer to have the BC Liberals re-elected. While 90 per cent of NDP voters from 2009 believe it is time for change, only 46 per cent of those who voted for the Gordon Campbell-led BC Liberals in the last provincial election endorse the continuation of the current government.
The New Democrats start the campaign at the lower end of the level of support that the party has consistently enjoyed for the past year. The opposition party keeps sizeable leads in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and Adrian Dix remains the best rated contender on approval, Best Premier and issues. The party’s retention rate stands at 80 per cent, and their support is enhanced by the fact one-in-six Campbell Liberals who have become Dix New Democrats.
The BC Liberals were unable to capitalize on the three-point drop for the BC NDP. The personal numbers for Premier Christy Clark are slightly better than in March, but there was no movement on the issue that the BC Liberals are discussing the most in the lead-up to the campaign: the economy. The governing party has solidified its lead in the highest household income demographic, but is trailing the NDP among women by a 2-to-1 margin, and facing a tough challenge connecting with the youngest voters.
The BC Greens have continued to show momentum among voters 18-to-34, where they are now ahead of the governing party. In Vancouver Island, where the party is running well-known contenders, the Greens have surpassed the 20 per cent mark and could become a factor in some ridings. The BC Conservatives also increased their standing, but are far from the impressive numbers they generated in the Southern Interior in March 2012.
While the level of undecided voters in this survey is 13 per cent, more than two-in-five respondents cannot pick a “Best Premier” for the province just four weeks before the new Legislative Assembly is elected. This finding suggests that the current numbers may go through fluctuations, depending on factors such as identification with candidates in specific ridings and, unquestionably, the televised debate scheduled for April 29.
Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion
+877 730 3570
Methodology: From April 12 to April 13, 2013, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 804 randomly selected British Columbia adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20. 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.