Last year, Insights West polled BC residents on a number of significant issues, culminating in over 30 public press releases on topics as diverse as housing affordability, political leaders, pipelines, flu shots, healthcare, cannabis legalization, rising gas prices, social media habits, housing, and more! Here is our annual list of “Top 10 Insights” from 2018.
#1 – Electoral Reform Difficult To Call
Our initial poll of BC residents voting on electoral reform showed that First Past The Post supporters were in the lead by a significant margin, but Proportionate Representation supporters were gaining momentum among the late stage voters. The question was whether these late stage voters could sway the final outcome. Our second poll suggested that results could be closer than it was, but ultimately those intenders never finalized or sent in their ballots and the early voters who supported FPP to the tune of 58% in our poll (who were mainly Liberal and older voters) ultimately held and closely matched the actual outcome of 61% in the final tally.
#2 – Housing Concerns Continue To Dominate The Public Agenda Among British Columbians
Housing continued to dominate the public mindset, as our multiple polls showed on the topic over 2018. From our very first poll in 2018, in our BC Government Report Card, housing concerns were reaching an unprecedented high. Our summer poll also showed that the majority felt the region was in the midst of a housing crisis, and the drop in Premier Horgan’s approval rating due to the housing file showed this as well. One of our last polls of the year is showing housing affordability as the number one issue in the municipal elections. Housing is on the minds of all British Columbians, and is having a significant impact on livability, affordability, social policy and provincial politics.
#3 –Increased Support For Kinder-Morgan Pipeline Expansion
For the first time ever after years of tracking, the public opinion debate towards pipelines found support outweighing opposition on the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline expansion. This support carried over to opinions of the LNG Canada pipeline as well, and possibly marked a significant reversal of public sentiment towards publicly funded public projects. Luckily for the provincial NDP government, the quashing of the Kinder Morgan approval has deflected the public debate on this topic at least in the medium term, as this file received one of the harshest reviews from the public in terms of overall Govt Scorecard items.
#4 – Is the Honeymoon Over? Premier John Horgan’s Approval Rating Drops Among British Columbians
Despite the public only providing the NDP government with a slight mandate to rule given their shaky coalition with the provincial Green Party, Horgan’s approval rating has remained historically at very high levels, with nearly one half of British Columbian’s approving his performance a year and a half since the election in our last measure in August. However, his Achille’s heel might be the housing file, as majority of residents think the provincial government is doing a poor job handling the most important issue facing the province today, and as a result, his approval rating has dropped 6 points. And in our latest poll before the Holidays, for the first time ever slightly more voters would support the Liberals than the NDP if an election were held today.
#5 – British Columbians Change Daily Routines As Gas Prices Continue To Soar
With the average price of gas in BC reaching record levels last summer, a majority of British Columbians said that rising prices are having a negative impact on them personally, and many have adjusted their driving and spending habits to compensate for the hit to their pocket books. While prices have moderated slightly since then, there’s still no doubt that this had a major impact on consumer spending this past year.
#6 – Smart Phones Quietly Overtake Television
In our view, the most significant technological consumer milestone of a generation was breached in August without a lot of fanfare or hype: our poll showed that consumers are now spending more time on their smartphone devices than television. Our latest bi-annual free “Smartphone Insights” report showed consumers spending 16.5 hours a week on their device, and ownership increasing by 25% over the past four years to 85% ownership. The resulting implications on media buying and marketing are significant.
#7 – Marijuana Legalisation: Maybe We Weren’t Quite Ready?
Despite our polls showing overwhelming public support for the marijuana legalization initiative over the past several years, on the eve of legalization in late Sept, British Columbians were split on whether Canada was ready or not. Although medical benefits, tax revenues, new jobs and other legal benefits of legalization were viewed favourably, concerns about border implications, addiction, impaired driving, and unwanted second-hand smoke caused us significant concern. Stay tuned at the end of January for our post-legalization poll that that we will release in partnership with Resonance Consultancy that will provide a new perspective on this topic.
#8 – Your Insights Panel Sold And Re-Branded As Angus Reid Forum
A significant announcement for our business in 2018—our ‘Your Insights’ panel of 30,000 Canadian’s was sold to Angus Reid and re-branded as the “Angus Reid Forum” (ARF) in May of last year. A multi-year partnership was signed between Insights West and ARF to continue using this panel to support our business moving forward. Steve Mossop started the business in partnership with Angus Reid—Chairman, and became part-time CEO of the Angus Reid Forum business in the first year. He then assigned the reigns to a new CEO at the end of 2018 so he could return 100% of his focus into the Insights West Business. We are proud of this accomplishment and look forward to continuing to work with our key partners at ARF as our core business continues to grow.
#9 – NHL Fans Excited About A Seattle/Vancouver Rivalry
For several years now, Insights West has been the agency of record for the Vancouver Canucks on everything survey-related with their fans, and upon the approval of a new NHL team in Seattle by the NHL board of governors, our poll showed significant interest and fan support in Washington state for a new team. We also found a large number of Washington State and British Columbians are interested in crossing the border to take advantage of watching this international rivalry within the NHL.
#10 – Vancouver’s Complicated Municipal Election Causes Overwhelm For Voters, But Most Agreed That Was Is Time For Change
Less than a week before British Columbia’s civic elections took place, an Insights West poll found that most Metro Vancouver residents were still on the fence about which candidates to vote for, due to the sheer number of candidates and lack of information on platforms. But one thing was clear—about 69% felt that it was time for a change in their community—resulting in a record number of 16 new Mayors for the region.