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BC NDP Victory All But Certain – April 12, 2013

IS BRITISH COLUMBIA BREAKING AWAY FROM ITS TWO-PARTY SYSTEM?

[Ottawa – April 12, 2013] – With barely a month to go until the 40th British Columbia general election, the provincial NDP holds a commanding lead and are well-poised to recapture government after the Liberals’ 12-year reign. Despite their best efforts, the BC Liberals have been unable to improve their fortunes from two months ago and the party is mired at 27 per cent. With no forward momentum and time running out, Christy Clark stands little chance at retaining her status as Premier on May 14.

It is important to note, however, that the riding dynamics in British Columbia are highly complex and we do not fully understand how popular vote translates to seats. Further complicating the problem is that British Columbia voters are somewhat politically promiscuous. Unlike in neighbouring Alberta, where voters are fiercely loyal in terms of party support and the province has switched parties only three times in its history, public opinion in British Columbia can shift suddenly and voters will not hesitate to depose of an unpopular government. For these reasons, we are unwilling to offer seat projections.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to envision a scenario where the NDP could lose with a 12-point lead in popular support. Furthermore, when we turn to our “likely voter” model, the NDP widens its lead to 17 points, revealing that NDP voters are more committed to voting on Election Day. Indeed, we do not believe it to be a question of whether or not the NDP will win – it is simply a matter of whether or not they will capture a coveted majority government.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is the surprising growth of BC’s erstwhile fringe parties. Whereas the Liberals and NDP have held an oligopoly on the Legislature since 1996 when the BC Reform Party and the Progressive Democratic Alliance eked out three seats combined, there is strong evidence that British Columbians are beginning to consider political alternatives.

At one end of the political spectrum, BC’s Green Party seems to be siphoning votes from the youth wing of the provincial NDP. At 16 points, the Green Party has doubled its support since the last provincial election. However, as we have stated in the past, much of this support is concentrated among new voters, many of whom will stay home on election day. The rise in GP is real though and we have seen them rebounding from a very poor outing in the last federal election.

At the other end of the political spectrum, meanwhile, the BC Conservatives have been highly successful in rallying the support of disgruntled Liberal voters. Over the last four years, the party has leapt from virtual obscurity to an impressive 13 points. If these figures hold, it is possible that the BC Conservative Party may elect its first representative to the Legislature since 1978.

The growth of support for newer parties may well reflect growing fatigue with the mainstream political parties of old and the fragmentation of a rapidly pluralising society. This is an interesting development, but the same disdain for mainstream political parties dampens likelihood of voting which effectively politically mutes much of this portion of society (much of it relatively younger).

Click here for the full report: Full Report (April 12, 2013)

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