Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Inconvenient Truth about Carole James

She has been leader of the NDP for more than seven years now and the public has never gained confidence in her being able to be the premier.

Over and over again when the question is asked in online polls about her leadership, the public answers resoundingly in the negative.  Yesterday CFAX asked if she should stay as NDP leader and the results were Yes 366 26.7% to No 998 73.3%.   This is in the same range in almost all similar polls.

Yes, these online polls are no scientific, but they are still a measure of public opinion.  When they are as varied sources as CFAX, the Georgia Straight and the Globe and Mail with the same result there is an underlying truth in these results.   The public in BC would prefer not to have Carole James as premier.  The formal polling shows the same as well.   Normally a party and the leader should be roughly in-sync, but in her case this has never been true.  The public has had this negative opinion of her for a long time.  

Back in the 2005 election when I was coordinating the Yes to BCSTV campaign I ended up drinking beers with an NDP strategist several times during that election.   We had a chance to bemoan issues of the election.   What this person noted to me at the time was that in their internal polling, each time the NDP got close to being the government, the concern about Carole James being premier rose among the respondents and rose enough to back off their support.    The public at that point could have been expressing concern because she was an unknown, but six and a half years later this can no longer be the concern.

As long as Carole James remains unpopular with the public the NDP can not be certain of winning the next election.   There are too many people out there that could easily change their vote to some other party if they are worried about James as premier.   There is some sort of an underlying provincial populist revolt in BC at the moment, the NDP needs to be aware of it and how it could suddenly change the political landscape of the province.

The NDP needs to either replace Carole James or needs to figure out how to change the public perception of her.   Given that the party had two elections and seven years to change the perception of her, I suspect replacing her as leader will be the easier task.

Certainly how she handled Bob Simpson and then the current leadership crisis does not seem to have had any positive changes to the public opinion of her.
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