Clark Drops, Horgan Stable, Weaver Surges in British Columbia

Green Party leader gains points on approval and momentum, but the BC Liberals and BC NDP dominate on issues.

Vancouver, BC – Fewer British Columbians are satisfied with the performance of the incumbent head of government as the provincial electoral campaign is set to begin, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of British Columbians, the approval rating for Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark has dropped to 30% (down six points since an Insights West survey conducted in February). Opposition and BC New Democratic Party leader John Horgan is at 37% (-2), while Andrew Weaver of the BC Green Party shows significant improvement, gaining six points in two months to reach 35%.

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Weaver posts a momentum score of +4 (12% say their opinion of the BC Green leader has improved over the past three months, while 8% say it has worsened). Horgan is even, and Clark stands at -39, with 44% saying their opinion of her has worsened.

Two-in-five British Columbians (41%) are undecided when asked which one of the three party leaders would make the best head of government. Clark holds a three-point edge over Horgan (25% to 22%), with Weaver at 12%.

Horgan is regarded as the best leader to tackle housing, poverty and homelessness (39%), health care (37%), education (36%) and accountability (29%). Clark is ahead on dealing with the economy and jobs (38%) and energy and pipelines (29%), while Weaver leads on the environment (45%). Clark and Horgan are virtually tied on crime and public safety (25% to 24%).

The BC NDP leader is also regarded as sharing the views of most British Columbians on child care (35%), seniors care (31%), fundraising for political parties (26%) and helping residents become homeowners (also 26%). Clark is the preferred choice for creating jobs (32%), managing the province’s finances (29%) and transportation projects (25%).

“While most British Columbians cannot currently select their ideal premier, they definitely have opinions about the abilities of leaders to deal with specific issues,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Premier Clark is still regarded as a superior economic manager, while opposition leader Horgan is connecting on themes like housing, education and care.”

The most important issue facing the province continues to be housing, poverty and homelessness (38%, +6 since February and at 51% among those aged 18-to-34), followed by health care (19%, -4) and the economy and jobs (16%, =).

Among decided voters, 40% would cast a ballot for the BC NDP candidate in their riding (-1 since February). The governing BC Liberals are second with 38% (-2), followed by the Green Party with 17% (+6) and the BC Conservative Party with 3% (-2).

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Women (41%), voters aged 18-to-34 (43%) and voters aged 35-to-54 (also 43%) currently favour the BC NDP, while men (43%) and voters aged 55 and over (46%) prefer the BC Liberals.

The two main parties hold on to most of their support from the 2013 provincial ballot (81% for the BC Liberals, 84% for the BC NDP). While at least two thirds of those who intend to vote for the BC Liberals (69%) or the BC NDP (66%) say they will not change their minds before election day on May 9, only 52% of BC Green Party voters are fully committed to the party at this stage.

Among British Columbians who voted for the Liberal Party in the 2015 Canadian federal election, 49% are currently supporting the BC Liberals, while 34% are backing the BC NDP.

The main factor motivating voters of all three major parties is ideas and policies (46% for BC Liberal voters, 35% for BC NDP voters and 58% for BC Green voters). The second motivator sees some drastic changes, with 30% of BC Liberal voters mentioning a desire for stability, 30% of BC NDP voters outlining a desire for change, and 22% of Green voters expressing disgust with other contending candidates.

More than a third of British Columbians (37%) say they would be “very upset” if the BC NDP forms the government again in the province, including 48% of those aged 55 and over. Conversely, a majority of residents (53%) say they would be “very upset” if the BC Liberals remain in power, including 57% of those aged 18-to-34.

Almost two thirds of British Columbians (64%) believe it is time for a change of government in the province, including 33% of those who voted for the BC Liberals in 2013.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from April 5 to April 8, 2017, among 801 British Columbian adults, including 625 decided voters in the 2017 provincial election. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points for the entire sample and +/- 3.9 percentage points for the sample of decided voters, nineteen times out of twenty. View the detailed data tabulations and our article on polling.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West
778-929-0490
mariocanseco@insightswest.com

 

Photograph: Kurt Bauschardt