The BC election is about 2 months away and the latest Mainstreet/Postmedia poll places the BC NDP of John Horgan ahead. At the same time in 2013, the BC NDP was also enjoying a comfortable lead. Will history repeat itself?
Well, first of all, the current lead over the BC Liberals is far smaller than 4 years ago. There were polls giving the NDP a 20-points lead. Also, let's remember that another Mainstreet poll a little over a week ago had the main two parties tied at 37%.
Moreover, while the BC NDP is at 38% among decided and leaning voters, we shouldn't forget that there are 24% of undecided. Before redistribution, the NDP is actually at 30% while the Liberals are at 25%. Let's assume these undecided split 60-40 for the incumbent (that are usually underestimated by the polls) and you get a perfect tie around 40%. In this case (BC Liberals and NDP at 40, Green at 11 and Conservatives at 10%), and you can convince yourself of it using the simulator, the race would be as close as 5 seats. Quite frankly, these numbers are probably closer to what will happen next May than the current official numbers of this poll.
All that to say that while the BC NDP has the lead, it's far from a safe or guaranteed one. Using the decided+leaning numbers, we get the following projections:
|In order: voting intentions, seat projections with 95% confidence intervals, chances of winning the most seats|
Quite a change compared to my previous projections. There are a couple of reasons. First of all,the numbers are very different. As mentioned above, the two parties were at 37% back then. On top of that, I made some adjustments to the model. Specifically, I'm accounting for the loss of long term incumbents, something that has been hurting the Liberals in the past (an average drop of as much as 6 points). I'm also assuming that the independents in Abbotsford South, Cariboo North and Delta South won't run again and I therefore redistributed their votes. I also decreased the BC Conservatives in Peace-River-South because their candidate of 2013 that got as much as 27% of the vote, Kurt Peats, is not running again and actually endorsed the BC Liberals.
I maintain that the NDP is more at risk of a good performance of the Green party. Not only in term of votes, but seats. The Green party is very high on Vancouver islands, a region where the NDP won most of the seats.
With that said, the numbers for the Green and especially the BC Conservatives don't make much sense. The latter doesn't even currently have a leader and has virtually (or literally) no candidate. It's actually impressive to think that a ghost party can poll so high. If this party could get its things together, it would actually be competitive in many ridings.
I can't just go ahead and assume the support for the PC and Green is overestimated though. They'll get the benefit of the doubt for now. As for who would benefit from a collapse of the Conservatives, intuition says the Liberals but second choices from Mainstreet show that while 42% of Conservative voters have the Liberals as second choice, there are 34% who would pick the NDP.
The Green voters' second choices are overwhelmingly for the NDP but empirical data shows that it might not be that clear cut.
Non voting intention data from the poll show that while Christy Clark is fairly unpopular (-36 net favorability), John Horgan isn't even known or doesn't generate an opinion of 51% of the voters. I know they'll pay more attention during the election but still, the BC NDP needs to start marketing its leader. The only time I hear his name is during some negative ads on the radio!
One thing that could really help Christy Clark is the strong BC economy. BC residents are quite confident about the future as well. Honestly, from a purely subjective opinion, the situation seems quite favourable to a reelection of the Liberals. People in BC don't love the Liberals, but I'm not convinced they are ready to switch to the unknown NDP. Time will tell of course.