Friday, November 04, 2011

Poll delivers bad news to Clark and Liberals

Christy Clark went all tough on crime this week, proudly enrolling in Stephen Harper’s “lock-em-up” camp. Strange for a federal Liberal, who mostly think the crime measures — mandatory minimum sentences and the like — are expensive, ineffective political pandering.
A day later, a poll showed why.
The New Democrats have the kind of support that would see them elected an 2013, the Angus Reid poll found.
And a big factor is John Cummins and the B.C. Conservatives, a rather serious problem for the Liberals.
The poll is bad news for Clark. It found 40 per cent of voters say they would vote for the NDP in the next election. The Liberals are at 31 per cent, a serious gap.
The Greens are at eight per cent support, in their typical range.
But the Conservatives are at 18 per cent, unprecedented heights for a party that has been firmly, even proudly, on the political fringes for more than three decades.
If the Conservatives hold that support, or anything close to it, the centre-right vote will be split and the Liberals will lose a lot of seats.
Of course, people often say they support parties with limited chances of success between elections, before returning to the fold when it matters.
But several things might make this different, with Cummins the main one. He’s an experienced, skilled campaigner, as shown by his six successful campaigns to be an MP under Reform, Alliance and Conservative banners. He has attracted others with experience to the party and knows how to do the basic stuff that other fledgling political efforts, like the Greens, tend to mess up. Cummins has been quick off the mark and effective in issuing news releases critiquing the Clark government, for example.
And Cummins has a chance, with some credible candidates, to make a pitch to voters who aren’t happy with either of thetwo main parties, a significant group these days.
The poll looked at how votes were shifting and found some interesting changes.
The Liberals have lost the support of about one-third of the people who voted for them in 2009, according the other poll results. About two-thirds of the defectors have shifted their support to the Conservatives, but more than one in four former Liberal voters now support the NDP.
But the New Democrats have also lost the support of 16 per cent of their former supporters — and half of those people have jumped to the Conservatives.
The poll isn’t all bad news for the Liberals. The poll found 25 per cent of those surveyed think Clark would make the best premier, compared to 19 per cent who pick Adrian Dix. She was judged significantly better-suited to deal with the economy, which was the top issue identified.
However she and Dix were tied in their approval ratings in their current jobs.
And, significantly, 12 per cent of respondents said their opinion of Clark had improved in the past three months, while 39 per cent said it had worsened. Dix fared better, with 18 per cent saying they were more impressed with him based on the last three months, while 17 per cent said their opinion had worsened.
Clark faced a formidable challenge in convincing voters that her Liberal government would be different than the Gordon Campbell version. The worsening poll results suggest she’s not succeeding.
And now she has to try to turn back the Conservative surge, which will also be difficult. Clark could push the Liberals to the right, as she did with her tough on crime talk, but that risks alienating more moderate voters.
The Liberals can argue, as they did this week, that voting Conservative would result in an NDP government. That, however, sounds both arrogant and uninspiring. “Vote for us, in spite of what we’ve done” is a weak slogan.
The election is stlill 18 months away. But Clark and the Liberals have a lot of work ahead of them.
Footnote: The poll was conducted Oct. 31 and Nov. 31 and based on an online sample of 803 people. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent.


RossK said...


Given all this, does 'The Smear' against Mr. Cummins still look like it was a rogue operation gone bad?


Was it actually the concerted, cynical and collective action of the wizards behind the ruling party's curtain who had seen their own internal numbers weeks ago and knew what was coming?

My take, for anyone interested, is here.

DPL said...

Both the Globe and Mail and the National Post figure Ms. Christy and gang are not thinking much with their tough on crime stuff. It's likely she is talking that way as she feels the BC Conservatives breathing down her neck. She spent time accusing the NDP as not really concerned about crooks, child molesters and other bad guys being out on the street. The articles mention the shortage of judges in BC, staff to man the courthouses and so many dropped criminal cases. Christy has to learn that she isn't a hot line radio person with simplistic ideas any more, but is a provincial premier and people are actually listening to her.
MY gosh even the T/C editorial mentions the increased costs to the province when Harper rams through his tough on crime bill.And as well all know the crime rate is way down, but of course that doesn't slow down Harper or Clark

Scotty on Denman said...

The BC Liberals will be so spooked by this poll that they may do something rash like closing ranks around their leader, something they haven't done so far because virtually none of the caucus likes or wants her as boss.
It will be rash because, if they actually do unify, it will have the effects of forcing a reluctant caucus to apologize for Christy Clark's often knee-jerk, scattershot and ill-concieved pronouncements while at the same time tainting the new Premier by associating her with the Campbellites, whose policies she was ostensibly elected to redeem.

The BC Liberals are in a tough spot (many would say deservedly.) It would be perhaps equally rash for them to stage a palace coup to get rid of Christy Clark. Party members have already rejected the Campbellites once, albeit narrowly, in favour of Christy Clark. They might, by a wider margin, do so again in favour of another(?) non-Campbellite, which would only underscore the level of distrust in the disgraced Campbellite faction. Their are also other tactical difficulties with this option, not the least of which are the time constraints.

My biggest worry is that a doomed and desperate party might try to introduce on-line voting in a bid to illegitimately hang on to power with all the veracity and corruptibility we see with on-line gambling.