B.C. election race tightens as NDP lead shrinks: poll

The B.C. election has tightened to a four-point race between the NDP and Liberals, according to a new poll commissioned by the Times Colonist.

About 41 per cent of decided voters would back the B.C. NDP if an election were held today, compared with 37 per cent for the B.C. Liberals, according to a survey of British Columbians conducted by Oraclepoll Research Ltd.

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It’s the latest poll to show the NDP lead shrinking as the May 14 election approaches. New Democrats had enjoyed a lead of as much as 17 percentage points in polls published only a month ago.

About 12 per cent of decided voters support the B.C. Greens and 10 per cent support the B.C. Conservatives, according to Oraclepoll.

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The telephone survey of 1,000 randomly selected British Columbians was conducted May 5 to 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Twenty-four per cent of people interviewed were undecided, representing a large pot of voters who have the potential to dramatically change the results in the last six days of the campaign. Pollsters say that in general undecided voters eventually follow the same trend as decided voters.

By comparison, a recent Angus-Reid poll (in which the NDP had a seven-point lead) recorded 14 per cent undecided voters.

“In this stage of the campaign, the genuine undecided is the target vote that both sides are looking for,” said political scientist Norman Ruff.

It appears the election reached a “turning point” last week, with voters beginning to pay attention and the race tightening, Ruff said.

“It’s maybe more people paying attention and, particularly, 2009 Liberal voters paying attention and being tougher on the notion of ‘do I really want to leave the party,’ ” he said.

“Some of it, I think, also [is] the dissipation of the anger of the HST [harmonized sales tax].

“Everything has been driven for almost two years by the distrust of the Liberals over the HST fiasco, and I get the sense that it’s still there but it’s got pushed to the background.”

It’s interesting to watch the NDP begin referring to the unpopular HST again in recent days, Ruff said.

“The NDP up to now have really been benefiting from the government defeating itself and I’m not sure if that’s a good enough endgame to really ensure that you win,” he said.

NDP leader Adrian Dix’s campaign brushed aside the poll numbers.

“All of the public opinion polling published in this election, including this one, suggests British Columbians believe it’s time for a change, and that they intend to elect a new government next week,” said NDP campaign spokesman Jim Rutkowski.

The B.C. Liberals said the poll shows voters are looking to re-elect the governing party. “I’m pleased to hear the momentum is going in the right direction and the gap being narrowed,” said Ida Chong, Liberal candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Meanwhile, voters across the province lined up for the first advance polls Wednesday. Advance voting is open until Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. General voting is Tuesday.


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