New poll from Forum Research confirms size of NDP's lead in B.C.
The Daily Twigg Vol. 1 No. 10 Jan. 25, 2012
New poll from Forum Research confirms size of NDP's lead in B.C.
By John Twigg
A new opinion poll of B.C. voting intentions reinforces a previous finding that the New Democratic Party has a solid lead while the B.C. Liberal Party support is being eroded by the upstart B.C. Conservatives, but my analysis of the numbers says the outcome of the next election still remains to be determined.
The telephone poll of about 1,000 people by Forum Research Inc. on Jan. 23 found NDP support at 39 %, up from 34 % in the previous month's poll and enough to deliver what Forum said would be a majority government of 57 seats to NDP leader Adrian Dix if that level of support held through to the May 2013 election; the New Democrats have and can win at that level when the opposition is divided but it's too far away to say the pattern will hold.
That uncertainty is reflected in findings for the B.C. Liberal Party and Premier Christy Clark that were somewhat improved from the previous poll, other findings for Dix were mixed and the findings for John Cummins and the B.C. Conservative Party were somewhat worse, so the poll does give "the Clark Liberals" a glimmer of hope for the May 14, 2013 voting day.
However Clark's disapproval was still quite high at 46 %, reflecting that she has not been doing enough to repudiate the many mistakes of former premier Gordon Campbell and really she has mainly been keeping lids on the many unhealthy scandals he left behind. It also echoes and affirms a recent finding by rival pollster Angus Reid that her disapproval was 51 % so both polls reflect high voter anger at her party, her predecessor and at her herself for various reasons (e.g. her suppression of an inquiry into the BC Rail scandal which could reveal that she had more than a peripheral role in it, e.g. her unthinking, impractical and unjust insistence on televising trials of a few hundred rioters, e.g. her skewed views of spending priorities etc etc).
Support for the B.C. Conservative Party led by John Cummins was steady at 22 per cent, approximately unchanged from 23 per cent in the previous poll but still enough to deliver 7 seats in certain enclaves, but Cummins' approval was down slightly to a relatively low 21 %, his disapproval was somewhat high at 35 % and his no opinion or don't-know-him score was quite high at 45 %.
Attack ads against Dix had some impact
Perhaps the most interesting and important findings are the personal ratings for Dix, whose approval was up slightly to 37 % and his disapproval was up somewhat more to only 34 % which suggest that Liberals' "risky Dix" attack ads and website against him had some limited success but that he also still has a bit of a recognition problem. That was seen in Dix's decision to attend a media event for aggrieved clients of Community Living B.C. in Vancouver rather than hang around in Victoria and do a few media hits while Clark was hosting the Canadian Premiers' annual conference, which may have helped convince Clark to find $40 million to inject into troubled CLBC a few days ago but didn't do much to raise Dix's profile.
A news report in the Province newspaper said that was "an indication that the anti-Dix ads launched by the Liberals haven't had their desired effect" which may or may not have been quoting Bozinoff's analysis but is probably wrong in either case because Dix's disapproval did jump up a bit more than his approval climbed, and the NDP support of 39 % and Dix approval at 37 % are still low compared with the antipathies to Clark and the Liberals.
The sort of lukewarm feeling about Dix is also reflected in the weaker numbers for the B.C. Green Party, which saw support fall from 15 % to only 9 %, and a mention that Delta Independent MLA Vicki Huntington would retain her seat, which together make the point that if there is a groundswell of opposition to the Clark-Campbell Liberals it is not all going Dix's way and much of it will be simply not voting.
That's seen too in the somewhat mixed results for Cummins, who seems to have made an initial splash but has not yet stepped it up to a second level; he is still seen by some social conservatives as too soft and pink and by some liberals as too divisive and dangerous to the anti-NDP coalition.
Twigg's take on the latest poll: byelections will tell more
So what is going here? What is the real story? Well it could be that Forum is trying to improve its performance a bit after the previous poll's splashy release which probably made too much of a big deal out of a small sample and especially for a sort of first effort in a market a bit new to them.
I felt at the outset that their finding of 34-23-23 in the previous poll was a bit of a statistical aberration - with some need to use all of that 3% variance 19 times out of 20 margin, and this time the poll appears to do that because 39-26-22 is closer to what other pollsters have been finding and closer to what veteran eyes and ears like mine would say should be the case given the ebb and flow of political and economic news.
But I also wonder just what Forum is up to. Are they trying to fish for new clients? Are they trying to establish a base from which they could release momentum reports in the weeks and finally days before the May 14, 2013 vote? Maybe both? Are they trying to scare people away from splitting the anti-NDP vote? Who put them up to it? Who paid, if anyone?
Those are fair questions to ask because the history of political polling in B.C. is tainted with some nasty examples of push-polling, biased questions, dubious samples and blatant attempts to influence voting behaviour during elections - and not just against the NDP but also in the midst of Social Credit and Liberal leadership contests!
Dix's response to this latest poll, that it's just one of perhaps 50 before the next election, is a good position for him because it shows he too realizes that nothing here is yet a done deal and if he and his colleagues are going to win they're going to need to do a lot more work to shore up their support and push down their opponents.
In that regard the looming byelections in Chilliwack-Hope and Port Moody-Coquitlam will be interesting and timely tests of where the parties and their respective leaders stand with voters.
In Chilliwack, the Conservatives last night confirmed that criminologist John Martin will be their candidate while the NDP will nominate from among several contenders on Jan. 28 and the Liberals will confirm Laurie Throness, a longtime conservative activist, on Feb. 4.
In Port Moody, the New Democrats are well-set with former mayor Joe Trasolini and the Conservatives will go with Christine Clark while the Liberals will soon nominate Dennis Marsden, a former president of the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce and a former Liberal candidate in an adjacent riding.
The potential power of the incumbent government is reflected in Clark recently going to Port Moody to officially announce a turnaround and restoration of some gaming-grant funding and that B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom and federal cabinet ministers James Moore and Denis Lebel were planning to use a Port Moody locale to announce pre-construction steps for the Evergreen rapid transit project - which reflects that Clark has hopes of her party retaining that seat even though they're in a three-way contest against tough opponents.
A word about Christy's use of cleavage
But hey - politically it worked well for Clark. The brief furore about it drew attention away from other much more important and problematic issues for the Liberals, and now as this latest Forum poll has shown it is helping her gain support from male voters - what you could call a bit of a Sarah Palin effect.
Maybe that's why Prime Minister Stephen Harper accepted her invitation to attend her son's hockey game and even stayed for all three periods.
Could Adrian Dix have done something like that? Not likely, or at least not until he becomes Premier.