30 APRIL: BC ELECTION TOO CLOSE TO CALL WITH OVER A WEEK TO GO

Things have tightened up, and the Liberals have eased ahead in key regions. The NDP remain strong in the City of Vancouver and Islands, while Liberals strong in rest of province. The two are in a dead heat in South/East (Rest of) BC.

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 has been about a week, and this election is headed to “too close to call” territory. During this time, the Liberals have closed the province-wide gap on the NDP. This is counter to Mainstreet Research: NDP Surges Post Radio Debate. (Note: Mainstreet saw a surge we don’t see, and this may align with that they changed their approach post-debate by dropping the BC Conservatives as an answer category.)

Based on the use of Google Surveys*, we have been conducting a host of one question polls of BC residents (Adults 18+) (April 25 to 28, 2017). Based on the voting intentions of decided voters, just after a week after our previous poll, the NDP’s lead has evaporated – 37% of decided voters indicating support for John Horgan’s party (down from 39%, albeit a marginal one). The Liberals meanwhile are still attracting solid support with slight growth to 38% among decided voters (up from 36% of decided voters, also directional). This indicates that things are likely closer than narratives presented in other polls. The Greens still are performing well back with 21% support.

A note on decided voters: In an attempt to get at committed voters, we removed those not eligible, with no interest or don’t vote. This yields a likely starting point of 68% voter turnout. This is higher than our previous tracking wave (63%). While this is higher than what may happen on May 9th, it is an indication that voters are now starting to pay more attention to this election. Please note, the “Other” was a coded open-end response.

BC Election 2017 – Voting Intentions (Wave 2). Self. Decided Voters

 

BC Election 2017 – Voting Intentions (Wave 1 & 2). Self. Decided Voters. Comparison

Delving into the data leads to some revelations. Looking at gender, there is now a gap in support for the NDP – now favoured by women (40% to 34% men). While men continue to indicate stronger support for the Liberals compared to women (45% versus 31%). Looking at age groups, while there is a slight decline with age, the NDP is performing better with the Under 35s. For the Liberals, the opposite is true – their support increases with age, and significantly so with the critical 55 years+ voter demographic. The two are close among decided in the 35 to 54 years age group.

 

BC Election 2017 – Voting Intentions (Wave 2) Self. Decided Voters. Regional Breakdowns.

With a methodology that favours the left (this was the 2013 story), this close call may, in fact, favour the BC Liberals for the popular vote.  But much will depend on the distribution of that vote. While we have not run a riding-by-riding poll, we do see some interesting regional trends. First, as with other polls out there, we too found strong support for the Greens in Victoria/Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands – and are running second to the NDP in these areas. Let’s break this down by regions over two waves.

  • City of Vancouver: NDP holding a steady lead.
  • Greater Vancouver (excluding City): The Liberals are opening up a lead on the NDP in this region. While some gains, the Greens remain in third.
  • Capital Region (Victoria & environs): The Greens appear to be closing the gap with NDP. Liberals well back in third.
  • Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands: NDP appears to have a solid lead in this region, followed by a strong showing by the Greens and then Liberals.
  • Northern BC: This appears to be locked in for the Liberals.
  • South/Rest of BC**: It appears to be a dead heat between the Liberals and NDP in this region.

At this point, it looks like the key battleground areas will still be the residual Greater Vancouver Region and South/Rest of BC between the Liberals and NDP. But the Capital Region should be a concern as well, with a surge in interest in the Greens.

The South/Rest of BC remains intriguing – with our previously mentioned “Alberta Effect,” there may be rising concern about housing affordability, and there is growing concern in the Okanagan and other parts within this region about rising housing prices.

With the election just over a week away and the gap closing, the NDP has many challenges on where to focus in an attempt to reduce the doubts that affected them previous elections. Take note of the Liberals’ campaign machinery and where they are focused, especially in areas where they can also benefit from vote splitting between the NDP and Greens. And for the Greens to double down in the Capital Region and key ridings in Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands.

As we mentioned before, With our online methodology possibly over-representing support for left-leaning parties, as pollsters found in predictions for the 2013 provincial election, the BC Liberals’ may be comfortable with their position given the efficiency and distribution of their vote.

Tomorrow: We look at Wave 2 of the “social cue” on this election, and how those are shifting.

For more information, contact Barb Justason, 604.783.4165 or Brian F. Singh, 403.861.9462.

 

VIEW DATA TABLES HERE.

 

* THIS SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED VIA GOOGLE SURVEYS OVER (APRIL 25-28, 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.

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