NDP Headed to Majority Government

NDP (51%, down 1) lead BC Liberals (34%, unchanged) and Greens (13%, up 2)

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  • Kyle Braid Senior Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Vancouver BC, October 23, 2020 — The numbers never changed. There has been no backlash for calling a snap election during a pandemic. John Horgan and the NDP have led the entire campaign in vote, leadership and on the issues that matter most to British Columbians.

Our final Ipsos/Global BC/CKNW poll shows the NDP with a 17-point lead over the BC Liberals among decided voters. The NDP lead by a substantial margin in both seat-rich Metro Vancouver and among high-turnout older voters. In fact, they have a large lead among voters of all ages.

The Issues

Coronavirus/COVID-19 has maintained its place as the top issue that voters care about in this provincial election. Three-in-ten (31%) British Columbians rate Coronavirus/COVID-19 as one of their top two most important issues. This is a decline, however, of 6 points from our mid campaign poll (fielded Oct 8-11).

Rounding out the top five issues that matter to British Columbians are cost of living/affordability (25%, up 1 point), health care (20%, up 2 points), jobs and the economy (19%, down 3 points) and housing affordability/availability (17%, down 2 points).

The Horserace

It was never close. The NDP have a 17-point lead over the BC Liberals. Currently, 51% (down 1 point) of decided voters say they would be most likely to support or lean towards the New Democrats, compared to 34% (unchanged) for the BC Liberals and 13% (up 2 points) for the Greens. Total ‘other party’ support is 2% (down 1 point). These results exclude the nearly two-in-ten (18%) (down 9 points) British Columbians who are undecided or express no preference.

Age Breaks: The NDP leads by a wide margin across all age groups, including by 14-points among traditionally higher turnout older voters (NDP 50% vs. Libs 36% among 55+ years).

Gender Breaks: The NDP have a substantial 26-point lead among women (56% NDP vs. 30% Libs) and a much narrower 8-point lead among men (46% NDP vs. 38% Libs).

Region Breaks: The NDP has a large 28-point lead on Vancouver Island (53% NDP vs. 25% Libs) and a 21-point lead in Metro Vancouver (54% NDP vs. 33% Libs). Voter preferences are a statistical tie in the Southern Interior/North (45% NDP vs. 42% Libs). The Green Party does much better on Vancouver Island at 20% support (vs. 12% in Metro Vancouver, 10% in Southern Interior/North).  


Unlike in 2017 when the race was too close to call, the current provincial popular vote is not close and an NDP majority government is expected. But the final margin in popular vote and seats will depend on which British Columbians take action to cast a ballot. With four-in-ten or more residents choosing to abstain in the past few BC elections, this can have a substantial impact on the results. For example, in 2013 it was clear that BC Liberals, fearing an NDP victory, turned out, while NDP voters, especially younger NDP voters, did not. And with 86% of NDP voters expecting an NDP majority in this election, there is always a chance that some NDP supporters will see no risk in deciding to sit this one out.

Voting Method

Numbers released October 22nd show more than one million votes have already been cast in this election, including roughly 680,000 in advance voting and 400,000 by mail (with more mail to come). These mail-in ballots are especially interesting, because they will not be counted until approximately two weeks after election day.

We asked British Columbians how they plan to cast their vote and found a roughly equal three way split between in-person on election day (29%), in-person during advanced voting (28%) and by mail (32%). An additional 12% said they were not voting, undecided or refused to answer.

Party preferences differ greatly by voting method. Decided in-person voters (election day and advanced polls) favour the NDP by 11 points (48% NDP, 37% Libs, 12% Green), while decided mail voters favour the NDP by a much wider margin of 28 points (57% NDP, 29% Libs, 13% Green). This means that what is reported on election day (in-person votes counted) could shift a few points toward the NDP when the mail in votes are counted. Of course, this shift will not be the same on a riding-by-riding basis.

Based on current numbers, it is known that there will be more votes cast in advance polls than by mail. And if total turnout is similar to the 2017 election, voting on election day will exceed the other two options. With this in mind, we considered weighting our data to match a predicted distribution of votes by voting method, but ultimately chose not to do so. It would not make a material change to decided vote and the final distribution by voting method is unknown at this point.

Deserving Re-Election

There continues to be little appetite for change in this election, although it has increased since our last survey. Only about one-third (32%, up 5 points) of British Columbians say it is time for another provincial party to take over. Nearly half (48%, up 1 points) of British Columbians believe that the Horgan government has done a good job and deserves re-election, while 20% (down 6 points) are undecided.

Best Premier

John Horgan (45%, unchanged) has maintained a huge lead over his opponents as the leader that British Columbians think would make the best Premier of the province. Andrew Wilkinson is well back in second at 17% (up 1 point) while Sonia Furstenau is third but making some big gains (14%, up 8 points). One-in-four (25%, down 8 points) are undecided on this leadership question.

Expected Outcome

It’s not unanimous, but a slight majority (54%) of British Columbians expect an NDP majority government, including 86% of NDP voters. Only 16% expect a BC Liberal majority, including fewer than half (43%) of BC Liberal voters. One-in-ten (12%) are expecting some other outcome and two-in-ten (19%) are unsure what to expect.

Impressions of Leaders/Campaigns

Impressions of the three campaigns show three different public reactions.

The most positive impressions are for Sonia Furstenau and the Green Party, with 27% improved impressions (vs. start of campaign) compared to only 10% worsened impressions (38% stayed the same, 25% don’t know).

The results for John Horgan and the NDP are generally neutral with 18% improved impressions versus 19% worsened impressions (51% stayed the same, 13% no opinion) since the start of the campaign.

The most negative impressions are for for Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals, with only 14% improved impressions compared to 34% worsened impressions (34% stayed the same, 18% no opinion) since the start of the campaign.  

Best on Issues

John Horgan and the NDP continue to own every issue except climate change and the environment. They lead on all top 5 campaign issues of Coronavirus/COVID-19 (33-point lead), cost of living/affordability (20-point lead), health care (23-point lead), jobs/economy (13-point lead) and housing affordability/availability (23-point lead).

The biggest positive shifts have been from Sonia Furstenau and the Green Party, who have improved on all issues, but especially on climate change and the environment (up 9 points) and being trustworthy (up 6 points).


 About the Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll of 1,502 British Columbians conducted October 19 to 22, 2020. The poll was conducted on behalf of Global BC and CKNW using a blended methodology, including 1,002 online interviews via the Ipsos I-Say Panel and 500 telephone interviews (live interviews, mix of landline and cell). These data were statistically weighted by region, age, gender and education to ensure the sample composition reflects that of the actual BC population according to Census data. The precision of Ipsos polls containing online data is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the overall poll is accurate to within +/ - 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all eligible voters been polled. Some of the questions were asked only of online respondents. The result for these questions is accurate to within +/ - 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all eligible voters been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

© 2020, Ipsos Limited Partnership: This polling release and the data contained in it are the sole and exclusive property of Ipsos. They are NOT designed to support any election outcome or prediction model and no license to use the polling release or the data is either granted or implied by their publication. Ipsos does not endorse, and has no responsibility for the accuracy of, the result of any predictive model that incorporates this polling data. Furthermore, any use of this information to produce polling aggregations or election models without Ipsos’ written permission will be considered a violation of our intellectual property, and Ipsos reserves the right to take appropriate legal action.


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Kyle Braid

SVP, Ipsos Public Affairs

office 778.373.5130

cell 604.788.2417

[email protected]


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The author(s)
  • Kyle Braid Senior Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs