Friday, September 19, 2008

From Ekos

Are the Greens Set to Break Through?

[OTTAWA – September 19, 2008] In our latest EKOS tracking poll, the Green Party has achieved its highest level of support ever, at 13% — very close to triple the level of support it garnered in the last election.

Even more important to the Greens, it seems they are on the threshold of transforming the contest in British Columbia into a four-way race. They are now just one percentage point behind the Liberals in B.C. according to our poll, and they are the strongest of all the parties in terms of “second-choice” options.

“The Green Party has always faced the challenge that, come election day, supporters might be inclined to think that a vote for the Greens was ‘wasted’ because they couldn’t win a seat,” said EKOS President Frank Graves. “That could be about to change, particularly in British Columbia.”

In terms of the overall party dynamics, the Tories have now settled back into the mid-30s, while the Liberals have steadied themselves in the mid-20s and have somewhat narrowed the gap with the Conservatives. In fact, the regional analysis shows that the Liberals are now highly competitive East of Sault Ste Marie; they have managed to close the gap, and are now running neck and neck in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

The NDP seem stuck in the high teens in terms of support. So, the Greens are the party with momentum.

The NDP now faces a substantial challenge in its quest to displace the Liberals as the obvious alternative to the Conservative government. Not only is the gap with the Liberals no longer closing as it was in the first week of the campaign, the New Democrats may soon feel the Greens breathing down their necks nationally, and already should be feeling some of that pressure in B.C.

“Nationally, the NDP has sometimes been at or below the 13% level in the last five years, so the Greens have to be taken seriously now,” said Graves. “In fact, the old Canadian Alliance sometimes polled below the 13% level.”

On the other hand, NDP supporters will be encouraged to note that they now lead as the party of second choice.

Of course, the Green Party continues to suffer from the fact that their support is “less efficient”, in the sense that it is relatively evenly spread across the country. That’s why the Bloc Québécois, whose support is geographically concentrated, would win more seats than the NDP or the Greens if an election were held today, even though the BQ is now the fifth party in terms of national support.

Another challenge is that the Greens draw much of their support from younger voters, who traditionally have had low turn-out at election time. At the moment the Greens are close to leading among voters under-25. The Greens are not so much a party of the left as they a party of the frustrated younger generations that have felt left out of baby-boomer dominated politics.

“There are two crucial questions for the Greens,” said Graves. “Can they convince their supporters that a Green vote is not wasted; and can they motivate younger voters to get involved and turn out to vote in the way Barack Obama appears to have succeeded in doing south of the border.”

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