Monday, September 01, 2008

Poll suggests big problems for Campbell, Liberals

It's not the fact that the Liberals and NDP are tied in a recent poll that raises doubts about a third term for Gordon Campbell after next May's elections.
Poll results bounce around and people often have reasons for being irked at the party in power.
But the poll - and the reaction - raises a couple of more profound issues for the B.C. Liberals.
The poll itself reveals a grim assessment of Campbell as leader, and the party's direction under his rule.
And the reaction, based on an unscientific and unrepresentative survey, suggests that a lot of the Liberals core supporters are dangerously unhappy.
The poll, by Angus Reid Strategies, found the NDP had the support of 41 per cent of British Columbians, compared with 38 per cent for the Liberals. That's within the margin of error; practically, the parties are tied. (The Green party is at 14 per cent.)
That's still good news for Carole James and the NDP. For most of her term as leader, the party has lagged at least 10 points behind the Liberals. Another defeat seemed inevitable.
The poll, conducted Aug. 21-25, was likely affected by what could-be short-term issues - the carbon tax, which took effect July 1, and the massive raises for senior government managers this month.
But the company also asked some broader questions that revealed deeper, much harder to deal with issues for the Liberals.
The biggest revelation, assuming the poll accurately reflects public opinion, is what a liability Campbell is with an election only nine months away.
The pollster asked respondents a number of questions about the leaders of the two main parties. The judgment of Campbell was harsh and involved perceptions that would be hard to turn around at this point.
Parties and leaders can always launch new policy directions to get out from under an unpopular issue. But turning things around once people have decided they just don't trust someone is harder.
And it appears they don't trust Campbell. If the poll reflects reality, they really don't trust him.
Only 18 per cent of those polled believed Campbell is honest and trustworthy; 60 per cent said he isn't to be trusted. (Almost half - 45 per cent - said James is honest and trustworthy; only 16 per cent said she isn't.)
Does Campbell inspire confidence? Sixty per cent said no. Does Campbell understand the problems of British Columbians? Again, 59 per cent said no. Agree with you on issues you care about? Sixty per said no.
Campbell scores high for having a vision, but the poll found 43 per cent of British Columbians think the province is on the wrong track. The visionary thing might not be a plus.
And he is rated significantly more highly than James in two important areas. Campbell is seen as significantly stronger and more decisive, qualities that are over-rated by voters. And he's seen as able to manage the provincial economy effectively.
But overall, James was seen as the person who would make best premier by 35 per cent of those surveyed; 31 per cent said Campbell would do the best job. (Leaving a critical 34 per cent who weren't sure.)
Sixty per said the Liberals hadn't delivered the promised "new hope and prosperity." More people though the province is on the track than supported the government's direction
And 58 per cent said it's time for a new party to govern; only 29 per cent said the Liberals should be re-elected.
Polls this far out don't necessarily reflect the way people will actually vote.
But it was a pretty damning view of the current government. And, based on a scan of blogs and comment streams, a lot of people who identify themselves as right-wing are incensed with Campbell. It's been assumed those voters had nowhere else to go, but some seemed ready to stay home next May 12.
Footnote: Campbell has been seen as a one-man government, certainly setting the agenda on big issues like climate change, which adds to the problems if people decide he's the wrong guy. Don't expect any real talk of replacing him, but the poll suggests some big challenges ahead for the Liberals.\


Brenton said...

Do you have a link to the poll?

paul said...

Sorry about that. The poll is at

Anonymous said...

My sense is that the only thing holding the NDP back from forming government is their leader. If instead of Carole James, they had a stronger, more populist leader like Mike Farnworth or Adrian Dix, I'm sure that they would do well.

Anonymous said...

I think people have trouble visualizing Carole James as a leader because she so rarely seems to be out there for something or doing something or leading anything. I like the woman, but she seems more like the kindly aunt whom you could count on for help in a pinch than someone who takes charge and takes you anywhere. And I think people do want that, or someone who will do that for them, so that they can sit back and get on with managing their own lives.

BC Mary said...

Interesting that so many people see Campbell as a one-man government and yet he manages to evade his responsibility for the tainted sale of BC Rail.

Will they guess that he alone is responsible for the crippling resistance against allowing Basi & Virk all the government documents they need for an adequate defence at trial?


BC Liberals Suck said...

People keep thinking Carole James is calling the tune of the NDP, she isn't, it's the backroomers who call everything. She's a mock leader for the party, it's called impression management.

The players in the NDP knew their image was tainted with a majority of voters, they brought someone in who could "soften" the image and appeal to a broader section of voters and people, and she's done both. James _is_ a real leader, her public service record speaks to this.

However, like most who find themselves inside the beast, she probably found out she wasn't the real leader and had some overlords. It's the behind the scenes muck where the real politics play out and it's why its' stomache-turning to most.

It's pretty wild how a party that has no platform yet is managing to move ahead in some polls. That speaks to the immense dislike and growing animosity toward Campbell and his merry bunch of scoundrels and parasites.

See more on BC Hydro hikes coming in October. Surprise!!!