Poll: B.C. Liberals lead in Comox; dead heat in Saanich North

The B.C. Liberals appear poised to hold their seat in Courtenay-Comox, while the battle for Saanich North and the Islands is too close to call with just days to go until the provincial election, a new poll commissioned by the Times Colonist shows.

The B.C. NDP and B.C. Green Party had hoped the retirement of Comox Valley MLA and former Liberal cabinet minister Don McRae would allow them to grab the renamed Courtenay-Comox riding.

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> More election news, including profiles of Vancouver Island ridings and candidates > timescolonist.com/bcelection

But Liberal candidate Jim Benninger has a 15-percentage-point lead over the NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard and 17 points over Ernie Sellentin of the B.C. Green Party, according to the telephone survey by Oraclepoll Research of Toronto.

The polling firm interviewed 300 voters in the riding from Tuesday to Friday. It found that:

• 44 per cent of decided voters back Benninger

• 29 per cent back Leonard

• 27 per cent back Sellentin

A relatively high number of those surveyed — 20 per cent — are still undecided.

“Twenty [per cent] is pretty high at this point in a campaign,” and the undecided could still affect the outcome, said Oraclepoll president Paul Seccaspina.

The race is much closer in Saanich North and the Islands, where NDP incumbent Gary Holman won the 2013 election by just 163 votes over Liberal candidate Stephen P. Roberts and 379 votes over Adam Olsen of the Greens.

All three are running again, and the Oraclepoll survey shows them locked in a tight three-way race once more.

The poll found:

• 34 per cent support, among decided voters, for both Holman and Roberts

• 32 per cent for Olsen

A total of 14 per cent of those surveyed were undecided.

The three parties are locked in a virtual tie in Saanich North and the Islands, Seccaspina said.

“It’s too close to call, obviously,” he said. “It’s going to depend on people on the ground, people mobilized to get out the vote.”

The Saanich North and Islands poll also surveyed 300 voting age residents.

Both polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Oraclepoll conducted the surveys by telephone — reaching private numbers as well as cellphones-only households — and using person-to-person interviewing, the company said.

> In Sunday’s Times Colonist: poll results for Esquimalt-Metchosin and Cowichan Valley

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