Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One poll, and things different and a little strange

It's time to start paying attention to the election campaign.
The Angus Reid Strategies poll released this week raised a bunch of interesting issues beyond the headline news of a tie between the Liberals and the NDP.
That's significant, of course. The poll found the Liberals have the support of 42 per cent of decided voters; the New Democrats 39 per cent; and the Greens 13 per cent.
Given the margin of error, that's pretty much a dead heat, with the May 12 vote coming fast.
People will spin the results. But Angus Reid has a good track record; the company's predictions in last year's federal election, for example, were extremely accurate.
So it's likely the parties are a lot closer than an earlier Mustel. It showed the Liberals 17 points ahead.
Good news for Carole James, obviously. The media perception was that the NDP campaign had been slow to launch and challenged by environmentalists' attacks over the party's opposition to the carbon tax.
But the poll results tell a different story. When the pollster asked about the tax, 30 per cent of respondents said it had moderately or severely affected their household finances; 62 per cent said it had made them less likely to vote Liberal.
The responses don't make much sense. The tax impact so far is minor and offset by other cuts. And the tax makes policy sense. But people don't like it.
Which leads to one of the interesting issues raised by the poll. Green support is at 13 per cent of decided voters, up four points from its actual support in 2005. But the poll found less than one-third of the Green support this time was definitely committed to the party. Angus Reid Strategies analysis predicts a shift of Green support to the NDP, but the carbon tax issue could be a barrier. The Liberals' problem is that attacking the NDP over the carbon tax might win Green support, but alienate other voters.
The poll has some encouraging news for the Liberals too.
Voters don't like or respect the performance of either Campbell or James. But 40 per cent of British Columbians think the Liberal leader would be the best premier, compared with 23 per cent who prefer James.
The findings on the most important issue facing B.C. are also good news for the Liberals. Some 34 per cent of respondents picked the economy. And Campbell got much higher ratings for being able to deal with that issue. (He also did somewhat better on crime.)
Both leaders should be chastened by the polls. Only 29 per cent of those surveyed thought Campbell inspired confidence; 19 per cent said James inspired confidence.
Campbell scored the biggest lead in the areas of strength and decisiveness and the worst ratings for honesty and trustworthiness. James' best relative grades were for understanding the problems of B.C. residents and being in sync with them on the issues.
Assuming the parties' private polls are producing similar results, the strategists should be having conniptions.
Should James try and emphasize competent management of the economy? Or play to her existing strength as someone who relates to average people?
Does Campbell keep attacking the NDP on economic issues, or show more concern for the needs of British Columbians?
It's interesting that what you could call government responsibility issues - health, poverty, homelessness, education and the like - rival the economy issue if taken together.
The poll also suggests a regional divide. Liberal support is softening in the North and Interior and fading on Vancouver Island (Pat Bell and Shirley Bond both might be in trouble, the pollster suggests).
But the Campbell party still has a 43 to 37 lead in Vancouver and its suburbs.
What it all means is that you should pay attention for the next 10 days and vote - unless you truly don't care which party governs for the next four years.
Footnote: You can review the results at here.
You should; it's both fascinating and an interesting chance to compare the data and the media coverage and make your own guesses at what it all means.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Strange, but true:"Which one do you think would be the best Premier of British Columbia?"
Campbell 40% / James 23%

"Is honest and trustworthy"
Campbell 19% / James 41%

"The responses don't make much sense." - WP nails it.

Anonymous said...

O0opz... That was supposed to be: PW nails it.

seth said...

Gordo is in fact incredibly weak on the economy and environment and if the NDP can get past Gordo's mainstream press cheerleaders, they can use this to build support.

The numbers are starting to come in showing the Gordo as Canada's least competent economic manager with the BC economy as one of the worst in Canada beating Glen Clark's statistics for bad news. The debt load represented by non IPP PPP's represents an unprecedented run up in the provinces debt but because of slick accounting procedures remains off book. The current budget is obviously at least a billion dollar fudget. Paul Willcox here is seeing signs of a massive Neocon style budget balancing exercise of the type Gordo's chief economic advisors Michael Campbell and Russ Limbaugh have been advocating.

However if IPP's are added in Campbell can take the prize as the least competent economic manager in Canadian history with the current IPP Buy High Sell Low program set to either create losses to BC Hydro of close to 2 billion dollars a year over 40 years and double electricity rates almost immediately. Easy to show but the NDP will have to pay for the ads themselves as the mainstream media including Wilcox here refuse to cover the economic aspect of this hideous mess.

The second approach would be to appeal to Alexandra Morton's "the Salmon will not survive another Liberal term" theme and persuade Green voters that cost of voting Green and reelecting Gordo is just too high and best to wait for STV and the next election to elect Greens

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