The first public poll of the May 12 election campaign suggests the B.C. Liberals have a 17-point lead on the New Democrats.
The poll, from the Mustel Group, has the Liberals with 52 per cent of decided voters and the NDP at 35 per cent. That’s virtually unchanged since the last Mustel poll in February.
The Green party had the support of 12 per cent of decided voters. One per cent named other parties.
On March 25, an Angus Reid Strategies poll gave the Liberals a six point lead, with 43 per cent of decided voters compared to 37 per cent for the NDP. Reid gave the Greens 13 per cent and the B.C. Conservatives four per cent.
An Ipsos poll that came out March 24 gave the Liberals an 11-point lead with 46 per cent to the New Democrats’ 35 per cent and the Green party’s 15 per cent.
Today’s Mustel poll suggests that both the Liberals and NDP enjoy firm support from their followers. Among Liberal supporters, 78 per cent described their support as either “very strong” (24 per cent) or “somewhat strong” (54 per cent).
Among NDP supporters, 82 per cent said their support was either “very strong” (21 per cent) or “somewhat strong” (61 per cent).
“B.C. Liberal voters primarily are drawn by the party’s economic policies and by their past performance,” the pollster said in a statement accompanying the results. “NDP supporters are attracted by the party’s social, health and education policies, and general support for the ‘working class.’ ”
One finding that will be sure to cheer up Liberal supporters relates to voters’ top issues. The Liberals were rated as the best party for handling the two top issues, crime and the economy. The economy was named by 39 per cent of respondents as the top issue; 12 per cent named crime.
Almost two-thirds – 63 per cent – of all respondents said the Liberals were the best party to handle the economy. Almost half – 49 per cent – said the Liberals were the best party to handle crime. Only 25 per cent named the NDP as the best party to handle crime.
As well, 53 per cent said the Liberals were the best party to handle government spending.
The NDP were rated the best party when it came to dealing with housing and homelessness (51 per cent), health (45 per cent) and education (45 per cent).
Neither of the big parties scored well on the environment. Despite their aggressive and controversial climate change strategy, the Liberals were the choice of only 16 per cent when respondents were asked which party would do the best job on the environment. The NDP were chosen by 21 per cent and the Green party was the overwhelming favourite at 57 per cent.
Only seven per cent of respondents rated the environment as their top issue.
Fewer than one per cent of respondents named “fuel cost” as the most important issue. Last summer, when the NDP was using a wave of high gas prices to push an anti-carbon tax campaign, fuel cost was the top issue.
Approval ratings for the two main party leaders showed little change since the last Mustel poll.
Today’s poll was conducted from April 1 to 7. It was based on interviews with 483 eligible B.C. voters. A sample of this size is said to have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Tom Barrett reports for The Tyee.