BC's Political Scene

NDP SUPPORT BOTTOMS OUT AT 18% OF DECIDED VOTERS; MORE THAN HALF THE BC POPULATION (52%) SUPPORTS THE BC LIBERALS

NDP SUPPORT BOTTOMS OUT AT 18% OF DECIDED VOTERS; MORE THAN HALF THE BC POPULATION (52%) SUPPORTS THE BC LIBERALS

BC PUBLIC VERY DISSATISFIED WITH GLEN CLARK; THREE-QUARTERS OF BC PUBLIC (77%) DISAPPROVES OF THE JOB HE IS DOING AS PREMIER OF BC

The BC Angus Reid poll was conducted between March 2nd and 10th, 1999 among a representative cross-section of 600 British Columbians. The findings were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's age/gender composition reflects that of the actual BC population according to 1996 Census data. With a sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the numbers are within + 4.1 percentage points of what they would have been had the entire adult BC population been polled.


BC POLITICAL SCENE

align="center">

In polling done amid the recent casino regulation controversy, this quarter's BC Angus Reid poll finds British Columbians giving majority support to the provincial Liberals. However, the NDP has not lost any ground in the polls over the last few months; instead, it appears the party's support has bottomed out with the backing of about one-in-five British Columbians. BC Reform support also remains static this quarter. Liberal gains appear to be at the expense of the leaderless Progressive Democratic Alliance, now at 4 percent popular support

British Columbians express strong dissatisfaction with the job Glen Clark is currently doing as Premier of BC. His approval ratings have experienced a significant drop since December, with more than three-quarters of those polled now saying they "disapprove" of his performance. Meanwhile, BC Liberal leader, Gordon Campbell, obtains much more favourable ratings than Clark, with almost half of those surveyed giving him the thumbs up for his performance as Opposition leader.

Provincial Party Support

  • Currently, a majority of BC's decided voters - fully 52 percent - say they would vote Liberal in a provincial election. This places the Liberals well ahead of all other parties; in fact they are a full 16 percentage points higher than the combined support for the NDP and BC Reform. Far fewer decided British Columbians - 18 percent - say they would support the governing New Democrats. BC Reform, at 18 percent, is in a second place tie with the NDP. PDA (4%) and BC Green party (6%) supporters form a third block of voters in the province, while 2 percent say they would vote for other parties. (TABLE 1)
  • 19 percent of people in BC currently express no preference for any of the provincial parties. Of these, 11 percent say they are undecided.
  • Support for the Liberals has jumped a full 6 percentage points since last quarter, moving from 46 percent in December of 1998 to the current majority support level (52%). The NDP appears to have bottomed out, having obtained the same degree of support for the past three quarters (18%). BC Reform's standing in public opinion has also stayed steady at 18 percent. Meanwhile, the BC Green party has seen its support move a statistically insignificant 1 percentage point, from 5 to 6 percent this quarter.
  • The number of people unable or unwilling to commit themselves to one of the provincial parties has jumped a statistically significant 4 percentage points over the past 3 months, from 15 to 19 percent.
  • Liberal gains appear to have occurred at the expense of the Progressive Democratic Alliance. With Gordon Wilson's recent bolt to NDP ranks, the leaderless party has lost significant ground, from 10 percent last quarter to only 4 percent currently. Support for the BC Liberals is consistent across all major regions in the province, and among all socio-demographic sub-segments. Its support is, however, weaker in areas of the province outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island (41% compared to an average of 55%). There also appears to be somewhat of a gender gap among Liberal voters, with more men (57%) than women (48%) prepared to support the Liberals. Also, higher education seems to mean a greater propensity to vote Liberal (63% of university graduates say they would vote for the party compared to 43% of people with a high school degree or less).
  • The Liberal party has also been very successful in retaining the support of the vast majority of British Columbians who say they voted Liberal in the 1996 provincial election; fully 84 percent of those who did so still support the party in the spring of 1999.
  • To contrast, NDP support is quite low in all regions and among all socio-demographic groups. Moreover, the party is much less successful than the Liberals in holding on to their 1996 supporters; currently less than half of those who say they voted NDP in 1996 - 44 percent - are still prepared to back the party. Many would vote Liberal (20%), while a significant number (17%) remain non-committal in their voting intentions.
  • As for BC Reform, its strongest support surfaces among British Columbians who live in areas outside of the southwestern corner of the province; at 27 percent support in this region, the party is somewhat competitive with the front-running Liberals (41%). While not statistically significant, it appears that BC Reform is holding on to about two-thirds of the people who supported the party in 1996.

Evaluation of Provincial Party Leaders

  • Currently, only 1-in-5 British Columbians (21%) say they approve of the job Glen Clark is doing as Premier of the province. To contrast, a very significant number - 77 percent - disapprove of his performance; importantly, a majority (57%) say they "strongly disapprove", hinting at the high level of dissatisfaction with Clark. The 77 percent disapproval rating is the highest given Clark since his election as Premier almost 3 years ago. (TABLE 2)
  • Meanwhile, 49 percent of British Columbians approve of Gordon Campbell's performance as Opposition Leader, up 3 percentage points since December. By comparison, 44 percent of people in the province currently disapprove of the job Campbell is doing in his position, which is down by the same 3 points.
  • Bill Vander Zalm's approval rating is at 31 percent, down 3 percentage points from 34 percent three months ago. Meanwhile, 49 percent of British Columbians disapprove of the job he is doing as BC Reform leader, up 3 points since December.
  • British Columbians from all walks of life and living in different regions of the province express strong dissatisfaction with Premier Clark's performance. His greatest critics are middle to high income earners (81%), and people over 34 years of age (80%). Supporters tend to be more likely found among lower income households (29%) and younger people in BC (25%).
  • Politically, Premier Clark has less than majority support from the people who voted NDP in the 1996 provincial election; currently only 41 percent of those who voted for a Clark government in 1996 now say they approve of the job Clark is doing as Premier; a full 57 percent disapprove.
  • For Gordon Campbell, the picture is somewhat rosier; he obtains solid approval ratings across all regions of the province, and among people from all socio-demographic groups. His support is stronger, however, in the southwestern corner of the province (51%) than in the Rest of BC (44%). Politically, Campbell enjoys the approval ratings from 72 percent of people who voted Liberal in the last provincial election; 26 percent disapprove.
  • BC Reform party leader, Bill Vander Zalm, is in a deficit situation across the province and all population subgroups as far as approval ratings go. His strongest supporters surface in the suburban Lower Mainland (38% approval) and in areas outside the southwestern corner of the province (36%). He enjoys the support of two-thirds of 1996 BC Reform voters.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Daniel Savas
Senior Vice President
Angus Reid Group
(604) 257-3200

More insights about Public Sector

Society