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Battleground BC

Poll Shifts Odds for Kamloops Area Libs

Krueger's seat downgraded to 'likely' while Richmond's solidifies.

By Will McMartin, 7 May 2005, TheTyee.ca

Public opinion surveys recently published in the Kamloops Daily News have prompted Battleground BC to re-align two ridings in the Thompson-Coquihalla region.

KAMLOOPS, previously considered ‘likely’ to re-elect Liberal Claude Richmond, now is considered a ‘solid’ Liberal seat. The opposite shift is taking place in KAMLOOPS- NORTH THOMPSON, where Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger’s odds of winning re-election have changed from ‘solid’ to merely ‘likely.’

A Vancouver polling company, The Mustel Group, was retained by the Daily News and television station CFJC TV-7 to survey 300 likely voters in each of the two Kamloops ridings. The poll was conducted May 2 and 3, and the results were featured in the newspaper on Friday, May 6, in a series of articles by reporter Cam Fortems. (The margin of error in both polls is 5.8%, nineteen times out of 20.)

Richmond enjoys an eight-point lead over his New Democratic Party rival, Doug Brown, but Krueger has an extremely slim 45.6% to 44.2% advantage over the NDP’s Mike Hanson. Green candidates in both ridings polled in the single-digits.

Richmond and Krueger may take comfort from the finding that Gordon Campbell holds an advantage over other party leaders to the question of who would make the best premier. The Liberal incumbent had 41% support in Richmond’s riding and 38% in Krueger’s district, more than a dozen percentage points ahead of NDP leader Carole James.

But Krueger is afflicted with a high disapproval rating from his constituents. When asked if they approved or disapproved of their MLA’s performance, 41% of respondents in KAMLOOPS-NORTH THOMPSON answered in the negative, and just 33.6% had a positive opinion. KAMLOOPS voters were evenly split on Richmond’s record, each side at 37%.

For a century, KAMLOOPS has been British Columbia’s bellwether district, faithfully returning MLAs to sit on the government benches. It elected a Social Credit MLA over seven elections from 1952 to 1969, a New Democrat in 1972, and the Socreds again from 1975 to 1986. Richmond, then a Social Credit representative, won the seat in a 1981 by-election, and later recorded general election victories in 1983 and 1986. He did not seek re-election in 1991.

New Democrats captured Kamloops in the 1991 and 1996 general elections on their way to two consecutive majority governments. Art Charbonneau won the seat with 43.7% of the vote in the former contest, and Cathy McGregor garnered 44.3% in the latter. McGregor’s vote-share fell to 22.6% when she was defeated in 2001; the victor was Richmond, reincarnated as a Liberal, who had 60.2%.

It is interesting to note — as did University of Victoria political scientist Norman Ruff in an interview with Fortems — that current province-wide public opinion polls show the Liberals leading the NDP by about seven-eight percentage points. That is the same margin the party enjoys in bellwether KAMLOOPS.

It would appear, therefore, that the New Democratic Party must take the lead in provincial surveys and form a majority government on May 17 for Richmond to fail to win re-election.

Brown, the NDP candidate, is a retired teacher and college instructor.

KAMLOOPS-NORTH THOMPSON was created for the 1991 general election, and in that initial contest was won by New Democrat Fred Jackson with a bare 39.4%. Jackson improved his vote-share to 41.3% in 1996, but finished 368 votes behind Krueger. The Liberal MLA won re-election in 2001 with 58.0%.

New Democrat Hanson is a former journalist.

TABLE -- Ridings in Thompson-Coquihalla, listed in order of Liberals’ 2001 vote-share

  • Kamloops — 60.2%
  • Yale-Lillooet — 60.1%
  • Kamloops-North Thompson — 58.0%
  • Shuswap — 56.3%

TABLE -- Thompson-Coquihalla, average household income

  • Kamloops-North Thompson — $54,462
  • Kamloops — $52,334
  • Shuswap — $46,123
  • Yale-Lillooet — $44,898

TABLE -- Thompson-Coquihalla, average value of owner-occupied homes

  • Shuswap — $159,546
  • Kamloops-North Thompson — $145,458
  • Kamloops — $141,797
  • Yale-Lillooet — $119,292

Check here daily for Battleground BC, Will McMartin’s voting predictions and analysis, exclusive to The Tyee. You can reach him with tips, insights and info at will@thetyee.ca  [Tyee]