With just a day left in the election campaign, the B.C. NDP retain a commanding lead over the B.C. Liberals, a poll released Friday morning suggests.
The Leger survey — conducted Oct. 18 to 21 for The Vancouver Sun and The Province — found 47 per cent of the 1,100 randomly selected respondents would vote for the NDP, 36 per cent for the Liberals and 14 per cent for the Greens.
The NDP led for both men and women, across all age groups and in vote-rich regions of Metro Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, even when factoring in the poll’s plus or minus three-point margin of error. The Liberals led in only one region, the “rest of B.C.”
The NDP’s standing has changed little in the three polls by Leger during the campaign. A poll conducted Sept. 24 to 28 showed the NDP at 47 per cent support, while another conducted Oct. 6 to 9 had the party at 50 per cent support.
The Liberal support has increased from a low of 31 per cent, while the Greens have improved from 12 per cent.
While polls have been wrong in the past, the consistent strong showings of the NDP suggest an NDP victory, said Andrew Enns, Leger executive vice-president.
“I don’t really see a scenario where the NDP don’t win a majority government here,” said Enns.
The fact that Greens’ support, at 14 per cent, is lower than it was at 17 per cent in the 2017 election probably helps the NDP, noted Enns.
The strong support for the NDP in the Metro area — 53 per cent to the Liberals’ 29 per cent — could also translate into a “good chunk” of seats, said Enns.
In the latest Leger poll, NDP leader John Horgan received the highest marks for running the best campaign, 37 per cent of those surveyed. That compares to 14 per cent for Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and 11 per cent for Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson. Of those surveyed, 33 per cent said they did not know who ran the best campaign.
Even among Liberal and Green supporters, Horgan received kudos for his campaign — with 19 per cent of Liberal-supporting respondents saying he did the best job and 18 per cent of Green supporters.
During the campaign, the Liberals and Greens tried to smear Horgan for calling an “unnecessary election” during the coronavirus pandemic, but it didn’t appear to stick.
Significant attention-grabbing policy announcements from the Liberals, including eliminating the provincial sales tax for a year and then cutting it to three per cent until the economy recovered, also did not change the party standings.
This latest poll came after televised and radio debates, which also did not appear to shift support.
Enns said that in voters’ minds, this election has been about ensuring that they have a government with a steady hand on the pandemic situation.
“Fairly or unfairly, John Horgan is the guy that is being seen as doing pretty well,” he said.
Enns said the findings of the Leger surveys mirror the results in New Brunswick where the minority Conservative government came into the election with strong support that did not erode during the campaign. The Conservatives won a majority government in the Sept. 14 election.
The Leger survey also found that by Oct. 21, 49 per cent of respondents had already voted in B.C., many of those with mail-in ballots.
That was equally split between men and women. But a higher proportion of people 55 and older (63 per cent) had already voted compared to the 35 to 54 age bracket (40 per cent) and the 18 to 34 age group (37 per cent).
Advance voting was done widely by supporters of all parties: 52 per cent of those who identified as NDP voters said they had voted early, to 53 per cent for Liberal supporters and 44 per cent for Green supporters.
The combination web and computer-assisted telephone interview survey has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.