With less than three weeks to go before the provincial election in British Columbia, the governing BC Liberals have improved their standing but public support for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) remains high, 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 812 British Columbian adults also shows that BC NDP leader Adrian Dix continues to hold a superior approval rating—as well as more positive mentions in the Best Premier question—than incumbent head of government Christy Clark.

Voting Intention

Across British Columbia, 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners (unchanged since mid-April) would cast a ballot for the BC NDP candidate in their riding if the provincial election were held tomorrow.

The governing BC Liberals are in second place with 31 per cent (+3), followed by the BC Conservatives with 11 per cent (-1) and the BC Greens with 10 per cent (-3). Three per cent of respondents would vote for other parties, or an independent candidate in their riding.

The BC NDP continues to hold double-digit leads over the BC Liberals in Metro Vancouver (46% to 32%) and Vancouver Island (45% to 25%). The governing party is now six points behind the New Democrats in the Southern Interior (41% to 35%).

The past fortnight allowed the BC Liberals to close the gap with women, going from 24 per cent to 29 per cent—although still trailing the BC NDP (48%) by a considerable margin. Among male voters, the New Democrats are ahead by 11 points (42% to 33%).

The NDP leads across all three age demographics, although the race has tightened considerably among British Columbians aged 55 and over (BC NDP 41%, BC Liberals 37%).

The New Democrats are 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 64 per cent, slightly higher than the 60 per cent they kept in mid-April, but still losing three-in-ten of their 2009 voters to the BC NDP (15%) or the BC Conservatives (14%).

Approval, Momentum, Best Premier and Issues

The approval rating for Official Opposition and NDP leader Adrian Dix increased by four points to 45 per cent, while Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark saw a three-point increase in her numbers (30%). BC Green leader Jane Sterk has an approval rating of 32 per cent, while one-in-five British Columbians (20%) hold positive views on BC Conservative leader John Cummins.

Only Green Party leader Sterk posts a positive momentum score this month (+2), while Dix (-9), Cummins (-15) and Clark (-39) are all on negative territory. Almost half of respondents (48%) say their opinion of the current premier has worsened over the past three months.

One third of British Columbians (32%, +4 since mid-April) think Dix would make the best Premier of British Columbia, while 20 per cent (+2) would select Clark. Cummins and Sterk are in single digits.

It is important to note that the proportion of undecided respondents on the Best Premier question has fallen from 24 per cent to 17 per cent since the start of the campaign.

Dix is regarded as the best of the four political leaders to handle education (38%), health care (39%) and crime (24%). The BC NDP leader trails Sterk on the environment by eight points (32% to 24%). On the economy, Dix is virtually tied with Clark (29% to 27%), while the Premier holds a slight edge over the opposition leader on federal/provincial relations (26% to 23%).

Across the province, 59 per cent of respondents (-2) believe it is time for a change in British Columbia and would like to see a different provincial party elected into power, while 25 per cent (+3) would rather have the BC Liberals re-elected.

Analysis

The New Democrats have not experienced any fluctuation in support since the start of the campaign. The opposition party remains at 45 per cent, with the highest rated leader and the best performer when respondents are asked who should lead the government in Victoria. The NDP keeps comfortable leads in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and maintains a good retention rate from the last election.

The BC Liberals are showing signs of improvement, gaining three points in two weeks on the voting intention question. Two weeks ago, only 46 per cent of 2009 BC Liberal voters thought it was not time for a change. This number has increased by 10 points. Still, the 14-point gap among decided voters remains significant, particularly with less than three weeks of campaigning left.

Support for the BC Conservatives in the Southern Interior has not improved. The numbers for leader John Cummins are low, particularly on approval and Best Premier. The Conservative leader is connecting slightly better on crime and federal issues, but not enough to become a crucial factor in the race. The electoral success of this party may hinge on the way the campaign progresses in specific ridings.

The BC Greens are still connecting well with young voters, but have dropped slightly in Vancouver Island. Jane Sterk’s approval rating is barely higher than the premier’s, but she continues to have a low level of name recognition. The debate will provide an opportunity for voters to take a broader look at the Greens, and that may define whether their level of support across the province stays in double digits.

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 April 24 to April 25, 2013, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 812 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.