Friday, June 3, 2011

Polling in BC - what do the numbers tell us?

Mustel recently released a poll in BC with their latest measure of support of the parties in BC.  In the middle of May there was a poll from Ipsos on the BC scene.   Here are the results

Party     Mustel    Ipsos  2009 elec
Liberals   37 -4     41      46
NDP        35 -1     39      42
Cons       18 +9     10       2
Green       9  -      8       8

The previous Mustel poll was in December and the +- are the changes.   There was no other Ipsos poll any time recently.   The 2009 Conservative result of 2% is low because they only ran in 1/4 of the ridings.

The Mustel poll was only 500 people and the Ipsos one was only 600 respondents.   Neither one of them very large and certainly not large enough to say much about any regional results.   That said, using the history of BC, I think we can make some reasonable assumptions where parties have support and where they do not.

The two polls show that the gap between the Liberals and NDP is small, very small.  I would not go to the polls as premier with this small a lead.   The polls indicate that the Liberals have lost slightly more support than the NDP.   This should mean the Liberals will lose seats.

The Greens are now the fourth place party in BC and I suspect this will not serve they well at all.   The Greens need to win a couple of seats but that means putting large resources into four or five seats.   The federal results for the Greens in BC are mixed.   It is good that they won a seat, but the vote in the province outside of Saanich Gulf Islands dropped significantly.   In the rest of the province the Federal party did a lot worse than the provincial party did in 2009.

So what is the impact of the Conservatives?   At the moment their polling numbers indicate they are over 10%.   There is an electoral history in BC over the last generation of rural BC being a hot bed of right wing of politics.  

In 1991 Social Credit won 7 seats with 24% of the vote and in 1996 BC Reform managed to win 2 seats with 9% of the vote.   In both those cases the parties were helped by having incumbents.

In the 1993 federal election the Reform party went from 0 seats to 24 in BC.  Since then they have held most of the rural seats in the province with majorities.   Their weaknesses have been on the coast and in the Kootenaies.  

In 2009 the Conservatives did manage to run a full slate in the Okanagan and finished with more than 10% in that region.

At 10% with no incumbents, the BC Conservatives will come second in many rural ridings but would be lucky to win any of them.   Peace River North is the most likely one to fall to them, though you have to keep in mind that Arthur Hadland, who ran as an independent in 2009, is now a member of BC First.

At 18%, the Conservatives will win a number of seats in BC.   They could win between 4 and 16 seats with that degree of support.   Northern ridings can be won with about 40% of the vote of urban ridings.   Winning 5 ridings in the north is like winning 2 in urban BC when it comes to province wide popular vote.

The Conservatives in either case will make it much harder for about a dozen Liberals to win again.  

Very roughly, where I think the next election could end up based on these polls:
Party           Seats
Liberals      40 (34-42)
NDP           40 (37-44)
Conservatives  5 (1-9)
Independents   0 (0-2)

I believe the NDP will come out of the election as the largest party, but they may not have enough for a majority.   I believe that at this time the odds are most likely we will see a minority after the election.

Factors that come into this all depend on what happens with the BC Conservatives.   If the party fades to below 10%, it becomes a two party race.   The closer the party comes to 20%, the more likely a minority will be the outcome.

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