New poll puts Liberals ahead of NDP in Nanaimo byelection

A poll putting the Liberals ahead of the NDP by 13 points is heating up efforts to get the vote out for Wednesday’s provincial byelection in Nanaimo.

“This is going to certainly animate the B.C. Liberals in Nanaimo and what they have by way of a turnout machine there,” said David Black, Royal Roads University associate professor in the school of communication and culture.

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He expects that the poll will also, “move the NDP to engage their turnout machinery with great energy. “I think they will put everything they have into making sure that the final vote does not look like this poll.”

Nanaimo has a long history of NDP representation, most recently through Leonard Krog, who gave up his seat to serve as the city’s new mayor, triggering the byelection.

The NDP is known for its efficiency at getting its members to the polls and has proved “time and time again that they can do that,” Black said.

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A Mainstreet Research poll released Monday surveyed people who identified themselves as decided and leaning voters. They were asked which party they support. The results:

• Liberals 44.7 per cent

• NDP 32.2 per cent

• Greens 13.7 per cent

• B.C. Conservatives 7 per cent

Liberals also led when the question was about candidate support.

Local businessman Tony Harris, who has deep family roots in Nanaimo, came in with 43.5 per cent, followed by the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson, former MP, at 35 per cent.

A total of 753 Nanaimo voters were surveyed Jan. 23 and 24. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.54 per cent and is accurate 19 times out of 20, Mainstreet said.

This is Mainstreet’s second Nanaimo poll. The first, released in November, showed the NDP ahead of the Liberals by eight points.

When it came to candidates, the earlier poll put Malcolmson virtually even with Tony Harris.

Wednesday’s vote matters more than most byelections because of the closeness of the numbers at the legislature.

The NDP and Green parties have co-operated to hold a total of 44 seats, counting Krog’s. The Liberals have 42.

If Malcolmson wins, that NDP-Green partnership will survive by a thin margin, holding numbers as they are.

If Harris wins, there will be a 43-43 tie, with Speaker Darryl Plecas breaking tie votes.

Turnout is important, Quito Maggi, president and CEO of Mainstreet, said in a statement.

“Turnout is usually a function of voter motivation and party organization and that should be reflected in the final vote,” Maggi said.

“The B.C. NDP are literally fighting for the government’s life in Nanaimo so it would not be a surprise if the final numbers will be tighter than our findings.”

Numbers released so far from Elections B.C. show high turnout for advance voting.

The six-day Nanaimo advance vote pulled in 20.5 per cent of registered voters; 17.9 per cent of registered voters cast ballots in advance of the election in 2017.

A total of 9,322 voters cast their ballots in the advance vote, which closed Sunday. There are 45,359 registered voters in the riding.

In the run up to the 2017 election, 7,948 voters of 44,184 registered voters took part in advance voting.

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