Friday, April 29, 2005

Poll should push NDP, Libs to change campaigns

VICTORIA - If the political parties' polls are showing the same trends as the latest Ipsos-Reid survey, expect some changes in the final two weeks of this campaign.
The Liberals had much to celebrate in the poll, conducted at the end of the campaign's first week. They stood at 46 per cent across the province, compared with 39 per cent for the NDP and 13 per cent for the Greens. In the Lower Mainland, with it's chunk of seats, the Liberals outpaced the NDP 51 per cent to 36 per cent.
It's a commanding lead, the kind of support that would translate into about 50 of 79 seats.
The standings are also basically unchanged from the last three major polls, which found similar leads for the Liberals. Those kinds of results have encouraged Gordon Campbell and the Liberals to run an ultra-conservative, tightly controlled campaign, with no real public events. Only Liberal supporters know where the premier will be next. If others find out - like Don Fornwald, who runs the Williams Lake food bank - they're turned away. The aim is to avoid mistakes or unscripted moments, and preserve the support the party already has.
The Ipsos-Reid results indicate the tactic worked for the first week. But they also signal that there could be trouble ahead for the Liberals.
The pollster asked people how their views and attitudes had been affected by the opening days of the campaign. About 30 per cent said their opinion of Campbell and the Liberals had worsened; 10 per cent said they felt better about him and the party.
For James and the NDP, the numbers were reversed. About 30 per cent had raised their opinion; only 13 per cent had been turned off.
The risk for the Liberals is that if the trend continues, it will at some point translate into support, and seats, for the NDP.
The poll also laid out another problem for the Liberals.
The Campbell party's strong performance in the Lower Mainland is offset by its problems in the rest of the province. The NDP has a six-point lead on Vancouver Island, enough for up to 10 of the 13 seats. Across the North, and Interior, the parties are effectively tied. Take the Okanagan and northeast out of the mix, and there are a lot of Interior and Northern seats that could go NDP.
Sticking with the low-key campaign concedes the loss of many of those ridings. That's not good for a government, which functions best with strong members from across the province. And it would also not be real popular with the Liberal candidates in those ridings, who may begin to wonder if a stronger, more direct and less cautious campaign would be enough to help them to Victoria.
None of these problems compare with the challenges faced by Carole James and the NDP.
The party has some momentum, perhaps, but so far that hasn't translated into actual support.
And the NDP campaign - the campaign period, really - hasn't grabbed people, perhaps because they are not all that dissatisfied with the way things are going. Just over half the people in the Lower Mainland think things have improved in B.C. under the Liberals, the poll found, while 28 per cent think they've got worse. For the Interior and North, it's a statistical draw - 40 per cent think things have got better, 36 per cent worse. Campbell, despite his low approval ratings, is seen as a better potential premier than James.
What it all means is that both parties have to think about doing things differently. The Liberals' strategy of avoiding the public and working to keep their existing support is looking risky, and certainly means writing off seats. And the NDP so far hasn't raised any issues that will define the campaign, or result in a swing in votes.
The pressure is on both parties to do better.
Footnote: Not much will change until after the televised leaders' debate, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Expect a stilted affair, since the format is rigid. But the parties are still working hard at preparation, and will adjust their plans for the last two weeks of the campaign based on what happens on television Tuesday.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think people are going to be surprised at the outcome of this election. I am calling it NDP by a small margin. Maybe 1-2 seats. They will win though. Polls mean nothing, besides, they have margins of error that essentially pushes each party into a tie.

Anonymous said...

over the past 3 BC elections I 've seen, polls have consistently underestimated the NDP vote. If they're saying 39%...it'll probably end up about 41-42%...but also remember that NDP support is more evenly spread out around the province compared to BC Liberal support which tends to be concentrated in certain regions... this could result in more ridings going NDP than polls might suggest. :)

wstander said...

What I find disturbing is the way this guy Kyle Braid from Ipsos Reid now feels the necessity to appear on tv and spin the polls. If you have confidence in your poll, and value your integrity as a pollster, why would you feel the need to comment on your own poll and get involved in the spin?

RWFernie said...

The May 3rd debate has just concluded and James had Campbell on the ropes for most of the hour. Campbell looked al beat up by the end. James has integrity. James has composure and self control. James exudes trust. Hopefully BC voters will realize that James is the real deal. Have you noticed how he seems to be unwilling to look directly into the camera. Wake up BC.