By Roy L Hales
A little over a month ago, the BC Government delivered its’ preelection budget. It was a cynical exercise in pre-election spin, which resulted in a prompt drop in their standings in the polls. The New Democratic Party (NDP) has been at the top of every poll that Mainstreet Research has conducted since then, but here are three clues as to who will win the BC election.
Clues As To Who Might Win BC’s Election
Normally, we read polls to find out who is leading. Though only the election counts, polls give us reasonably accurate snap shots of public opinion on the days leading up to that event. My question is how are the party’s trending? Are their numbers going up or down?
Though it is difficult to foresee how “undecided” respondents will vote, Mainstreet asks “decided” voters about their second choice. This gives us a clue as to each party’s best potential reach. More important, we can see how it is trending.
Lastly, each party has a story. What is that story and how is it being received?
Comparing the Stories
According to once respected t.v. news anchor Pamela Martin, now the Liberal party’s $130,000 a year Director of Engagement, Premier Christy Clark’s government has just delivered its’ fifth consecutive balanced budget. Martin claims that if either the NDP or Green party are elected the result will be “out of control spending.”
The problem with this story is that during the BC Liberal’s administration the provincial debt has doubled (from $33 billion to $66 billion) and most of that increase occurred during Premier Christy Clark’s watch. One might compare Martin’s statement to someone bragging that they just paid off all their household expenses – without explaining that they mortgaged their house to do this. Her party appears to be guilty of the out-of control spending they say their opponents might do.
Thus it is not surprising to find that the BC Liberals credibility is often under attack. As former talk show host Rafe Mair puts it, “This has been a government that doesn’t just employ puffery or exaggeration, it lies through its teeth, as if lying was its default position.”
She is the most unpopular party leader in British Columbia. In the March 20th poll, 55% of the respondents were critical of her. Neither NDP leader John Horgan or Green leader Andrew Weaver face anything like this opposition. (Their challenge is getting their message out.)
While Clark’s administration appears to represent corporate interest, both the NDP and Greens claim to represent the people of British Columbia. This message is especially effective in light of media revelations that the BC Liberal are largely funded by corporations.
Distilling the opposition messages down to simple phrases: the NDP are saying they work for us, to which the Greens respond that the NDP are not going far enough.
They are both opposed to an electoral system that allows corporations to pump millions of dollars into political campaign chests. This is presumably why lobbyists currently obtain access to office holders, as high as the Premier and her ministers, as many as 14 times a day. Though the NDP repeatedly tabled legislation banning these practises, only the Greens presently refuse corporate or union funding.
Both parties take global warming seriously. They believe government must take immediate steps to reduce the province’s emissions and are opposed to the controversial Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion. But the NDP are in favour of LNG terminals, providing they are built in a responsible fasion.
While the Liberals decry the growth of big government, the NDP and Greens believe that the provincial government has a duty to further protect the interests of its’ people.
How Are the Parties Trending?
Only one party has consistently been trending upwards since March 5. The Green party’s penetration, as evidenced by Mainstreet’s polls, has risen 6%. The other three party’s have collectively lost an equal percentage.
If same percentage of voters vote Green in the next election, they will undoubtedly have more MLAs in the next parliament.
Only most British Columbians have not previously considered the possibility of a Green government.
Will their numbers rise again in the next poll?
How is their potential penetration faring?
The next question is how are parties doing in terms of potential penetration? This can be measured by the number of recipients who choose them as their second choice.
Once again, the Greens are the only party whose numbers are climbing.
Though the NDP are still in the lead, their campaign appears to be stalling. Will they recover and form the next government?
Are we witnessing a modern day Cinderella story, in which the previously obscure Green party is swept into power?
Or can Christy Clark once again defy the polls?
What will the next poll say?
Top Photo Credit: Screenshot from the Liberal YouTube campaign video “Our Plan To Eliminate MSP“