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Clark, Farnworth frontrunners in leadership races: Poll

An Angus Reid poll, issued today, shows Christy Clark the favourite in the Liberal leadership race, while Mike Farnworth is the preferred candidate among New Democrats. As well, support for HST abolition has fallen.

Based on a sample of 806 British Columbians, the poll showed Liberals and NDP tied at 38 percent each among “decided voters and leaners.” Green Party support has fallen to 12 percent, with the B.C. Conservatives at 7 percent. Among the poll’s other findings:

The BC Liberals are slightly ahead in Metro Vancouver, while the NDP holds small leads in the Interior and the North, and maintains a sizeable advantage in Vancouver Island. Men and respondents over the age of 55 are now more likely to cast a ballot for the BC Liberals, while women and younger respondents are more likely to vote for the NDP. ...

The prospective BC Liberal base for the next election has expanded, with 36 per cent of respondents saying they will vote for the BC Liberals in 2013 (17%) or are leaning towards doing so (19%). The NDP’s base is currently at 31 per cent, with 14 per cent of British Columbians saying they will vote for the NDP, and 17 per cent saying they are leaning towards backing the party.

Almost half of British Columbians (46%) and two thirds of BC Liberal voters in 2009 (66%) think Christy Clark would be a good choice to replace Gordon Campbell as Premier and leader of the BC Liberals. Positive views on Clark’s bid have increased markedly since early December. Kevin Falcon is second (28% of British Columbians think he would be a good choice, along with 45% of BC Liberal voters). George Abbott and Mike de Jong garner the backing of one-in-four BC residents and one third of BC Liberal voters, while Moira Stillwell gets a positive review from one-in-ten British Columbians and BC Liberal voters. ...

The BC Liberal leadership candidates have recently discussed several policy initiatives. The highest level of support from the population is for raising the minimum wage in British Columbia from the current $8 an hour (90%) and lowering the interest rate on student loans (82%). ...

As the weeks progress, support for abolishing the harmonized sales tax (HST) continues to erode. More than half of British Columbians (54%) would still vote to extinguish the HST, but support is down 10 points since early December. One third of BC residents (35%, +5) would cast a ballot to keep the HST, while 11 per cent are undecided. While women continue to support abandoning the HST by an almost 2-to-1 margin, the race has tightened considerably among men (48% would extinguish it, 42% would keep it).

A large chunk of the BC electorate is waiting to see who ultimately leads the two main parties in the province. However, the month of December has solidified the position of Christy Clark and Mike Farnworth as popular choices to take over the BC Liberals and the NDP respectively.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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