The B.C. Liberals have improved their standing and now trail the NDP by seven points, according to a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll.

The online survey of 808 British Columbian adults on May 1 and 2 also outlines gains for B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark on being the best person to handle the economy.

Across the province, 41 per cent of decided voters and leaners would cast a ballot for the B.C. NDP candidate in their riding if the provincial election were held the next day, down four points since late April.

The Liberals are in second place with 34 per cent, up three points; followed by the B.C. Green Party with 12 per cent, up two points; and the B.C. Conservatives with 10 per cent, down one point.

Three per cent of respondents would vote for other parties or an independent candidate in their riding.

Liberals see boost in female support

The NDP remains ahead of the Liberals in Metro Vancouver, by 10 percentage points, and Vancouver Island, by 16 points. The Liberals, however, are leading in the southern Interior by 13 percentage points.

Poll highlights

  • Voting intention: NDP 41 per cent, Liberals 34 per cent, Green Party 12 per cent, Conservatives 10 per cent.
  • Leader approval ratings: Dix 41 per cent, Sterk 38 per cent, Clark 34 per cent, Cummins 18 per cent.
  • Best premier: Dix 26 per cent, Clark 24 per cent, Sterk six per cent, Cummins five per cent.

While 45 per cent of female voters say they prefer the NDP, the Liberals have reached their best numbers in almost two years with female voters, at 35 per cent — up 11 points since the start of the campaign.

Among male voters, the NDP holds a seven-point edge.

When it comes to leadership, NDP Leader Adrian Dix maintains the best approval rating in the province but lost four points from the last poll, bringing him down to 41 per cent.

Green Party Leader Jane Sterk saw her standing improve by five points to 38 per cent, while Clark continues to gain and has reached 34 per cent, seven points higher than in early April. B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins has the lowest rating at 18 per cent.

There has been fluctuation on who would make the best premier, with Clark gaining four points to reach 24 per cent, and Dix dropping six points to 26 per cent. Sterk improved to seven per cent on this question, while Cummins fell to six per cent.

The economy is regarded as the most important issue facing British Columbia, followed by health care, leadership, the environment and poverty.

Clark is now seen as the best of the four political leaders to handle the economy with 31 per cent support.

B.C. polls not conclusive, prof says

But an election expert says there have been far too few polls to properly assess public opinion during this election.

Richard Johnston, a professor of political science at UBC and Canada Research Chair in Public Opinion, Elections, and Representation, says recent poll results can't be trusted.

"To me, the peculiar thing about this election is that there have been so few polls, such that any one that comes along assumes a kind of news significance in some ways it can't bear," he said.

Johnston pointed out factors that could influence results, such as who is being polled and who conducted the polling —something pollsters often refer to as their "margin of error."

"There are underlying characteristics of the sample. If you take an interview with 800 people. But if you get another 800 people, it would be somewhat different. And each pollster has his or her own way of drawing a sample. They have their own way of closing the questions, so there is a lot of error."

Johnston said there was only one thing he could say comfortably when asked to interpret the results of the latest Angus Reid poll.

"I think the simplest thing and the only kind of secure thing to say is [the standings are] almost certainly narrower now than it was a week ago or two weeks ago. How much narrower? Or whether the readings were even correct two weeks ago? We don’t know."