A new poll has the B.C. Liberals and the NDP in a dead heat, with one in three British Columbians still undecided, less than three months before the May provincial election.
The Mainstreet/Postmedia poll found that among decided and leaning voters, the Liberals and New Democrats are tied at 37 per cent, the B.C. Greens at 17 per cent, and the leaderless B.C. Conservatives at 10 per cent. (The numbers don’t add to 100 due to rounding.)
“It’s a very close race,” said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research, with a number of factors, including a high percentage of undecided voters, contributing to the uncertainty. “B.C. is a very different electorate than the rest of Canada. It’s still very unpredictable.”
The survey appears to indicate voters are largely satisfied with the status quo — something that’s not particularly encouraging for the NDP, said Maggi, noting that going into an election with an incumbent government going after its fifth term, opposition support should be at its highest.
“(Having) These numbers at this stage of the game doesn’t point to a change type of election,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the campaign won’t reveal this sentiment in the population, but right now it doesn’t feel like a ‘change’ election.”
At this time before the 2013 elections, polls had the NDP up by a commanding lead over the Liberals, even though the Liberals went on to pull off an upset victory.
According to the survey results, about two thirds of Liberal and NDP voters say they are locked into their vote and won’t change their minds.
The overall number of undecided voters in B.C., at 31 per cent, is startling, said Maggi. “It’s higher than what it was back in September,” he said. “It’s like the closer we get, the more uncertain it is.”
The Liberal government’s budget announcement Tuesday and the NDP’s yet-to-be-unveiled election platform, which leader John Horgan has said will including raising minimum wage and a $10 a day child care program, are expected to sway undecided voters during the spring campaign.
The B.C. Greens enjoy a level of support about 10 per cent higher than what they received in 2013. But it also shows the party having the least committed voters. Only 36 per cent of Green voters say they are locked in with their vote; 48 per cent said they might still change their minds.
This figure could bode well for the NDP, said Maggi. Among Green voters who are most likely to change their minds, 51 per cent said they’d vote for the NDP as their second choice while only 11 per cent said they’d swing Liberal.
There could also be ridings up for grabs if the Conservatives only field a partial slate. During the last election, it only ran candidates in 53 ridings out of 85. Among Conservative voters who say they might switch their votes, 37 per cent said the NDP is their backup party while only 30 per cent said the Liberals are their second choice.
The poll surveyed a random sample of 2,188 eligible voters in British Columbians on Feb. 18 and 19, with a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.