Things have tightened up, and the Liberals have eased ahead in key regions. However, it is like 2013 where a close polling result does not reflect what may happen on election day? At this point, with BC voters saying that economy & jobs are a motivation to vote, that traditionally favours an incumbent. Thus, one of the challenges for the NDP is to disrupt that belief in this final week before the election.
Some of the challenges of polling in any election cycle are to first get behind the horse race numbers but also to get a sense of what voter turnout will be. Further, it is imperative that pollsters improve their ability to triangulate diverse data sources to bring depth to the fundamentals of tracking voter intentions. During this writ period, experimenting with an online data collection platform (see note below*), Justason Marketing Intelligence and zinc tank have teamed up to offer regular insights on this Provincial Election. It is our hope to stimulate discussion among pollsters, campaigners and political watchers about polling techniques, getting behind the numbers and how we can improve insights in an election cycle.
In our series of 1Question Google Survey* polls – including some framing polls – we using a host of approaches from the emerging field of behavioural economics. In this case, asking respondents assess issues from their personal motivation perspective. This is based on the notion that many actions – including voting – are socially conditioned and have underlying motives. Applying this technique, and based on our tracking polls, economy and jobs and housing affordability are the two top issues motivating turnout. (Click on pictures to expand)
These topics were derived from our review of a host of other polls (for example, as confirmed by the Ipsos poll and assessed from a relative perspective (more on this below). Further, we included a “None of the above” option which was used to restrict choice as we felt that most committed voters would connect with at lease one these issues. Further, as a proxy for voter turnout, we removed these “None of the aboves” to proxy “Decided” voters. This is by no means perfect, but we are attempting to grasp a snapshot of motivations.
With a week to go, and this election is headed to “too close to call” territory, we turn our attention to the “necessary and sufficient” conditions that may lead to certain election outcomes. As we saw in 2013, apathy and anger can coexist amidst a healthy economy. And that disgruntlement with a party in power and be shelved in a greater mistrust in what an alternative offers. As we can see above, voters have put the concern with the economy on par with housing affordability. At this point, given a host of scandals (Eg., Metro: Premier Christy Clark lays low as donations scandal grows (March 15 2017)), while almost on par with the doctor shortage, corruption in government is less of a motivation than economy and jobs. Thus, in terms of electoral math, “economy and jobs > corruption,” it typically is a condition that still favours an incumbent. When this equation is reversed, we witness situations where it is imperative in the minds of voters to turf the government. As such, at this time within the writ period, the pull of the economy and jobs relative to housing and corruption has led to a close election that it appears to still favour the Liberals.
Delving into the data leads to some revelations. Looking at gender, men are more motivated by the economy and jobs; while women by housing affordability and the doctor shortage. Looking at age groups, while there is a slight decline with age, housing affordability is a more motivating issue with under 35 voters. For the critical 55 years+ voter demographic, the doctor shortage is a relatively more motivating issue. Of note, corruption in government is the least motivating among voters aged 35 to 54 years.
We also see some interesting regional trends.
- City of Vancouver: Housing affordability is the top motivation selected, and the greatest level across the province.
- Greater Vancouver (excluding City): Housing affordability and economy and jobs are the two most selected motivations.
- Capital Region (Victoria & environs): While housing affordability is a motivation, this region has the highest share selecting the doctor shortage.
- Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands: Evonomy and jobs is on par with corruption in government – hence, likely why the Liberals are performing poorly in this region.
- Northern BC: Economy and jobs appear to be the dominant motivation selected. Of note, the highest share that selected corruption in government. This region had the highest share, by no surprise, selecting softwood luber issues
- South/Rest of BC**: Economy and jobs is the top motivation selected, and the greatest level across the province. Of note, this region had among the highest share indicating pipelineaccess/rights-of-way.
As we mentioned before, With our online methodology possibly over-representing support for left-leaning perspectives, as pollsters found in predictions for the 2013 provincial election, and that frustration with a party can be put aside relative to comfort with economic fundamentals and job creation, the BC Liberals’ may be comfortable with their position as voting intentions have them in a close race with the non-incumbent NDP.
For more information, contact Barb Justason, 604.783.4165 or Brian F. Singh, 403.861.9462.
* THIS SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED VIA GOOGLE SURVEYS OVER (APRIL 27-30, 2017). GOOGLE SURVEYS USES A COMBINATION OF BAYESIAN, RIVER-SAMPLING METHODOLOGY ONLINE AND MOBILE AND TAPPING INTO GOOGLE COMMUNITIES TO YIELD A POPULATION REFLECTIVE SAMPLE OF BC’S POPULATION. HENCE, NO MARGIN OF ERROR IS REPORTED. OF NOTE, BC HAS A HIGH PENETRATION RATE OF MOBILE USAGE IN NORTH AMERICA, AND BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS EXCEEDS LAND LINE USAGE. GOOGLE SURVEYS CONTINUES TO BE RATED FAVOURABLY (RATED BY 538: B), AND WAS USED EXTENSIVELY BY BRIAN F. SINGH IN HIS WORK ON BRIAN BOWMAN’S SUCCESSFUL MAYORAL CAMPAIGN IN THE 2014 WINNIPEG MUNICIPAL ELECTION, AND DURING THE ALBERTA AND FEDERAL ELECTIONS IN 2015. GOOGLE SURVEYS IS BUT ONE METHODOLOGY IN A POLLSTERS TOOLKIT WHILE NOT DEFINITIVE (AS HAS BEEN WITNESSED WITH OTHER POLLING METHODS), IT PROVIDES QUALITY DIRECTIONAL DATA THAT IS ABLE TO STAND ON ITS OWN AND IN CONCERT WITH OTHER MODES OF DATA COLLECTION, AND WE CROSS VALIDATE ITS FINDINGS FROM OTHER POLLING FIRMS THAT USE OTHER FORMS OF TRADITIONAL POLLING.
** South/Rest of BC comprises: Central Okanagan, North Okanagan, Okanagan-Similkameen, Columbia-Shuswap; East Kootenay, Central Kootenay, Kootenay Boundary, Thompson-Nicola, Squamish-Lillooet, Cariboo, Fraser Valley, Powell River, Sunshine Coast and Central Coast.