British Columbia

New poll shows flagging fortunes for B.C. Liberals, sustained support for NDP and Greens

Housing, poverty and homelessness were identified by B.C. voters as overwhelmingly the most important issue facing the province.

Housing, poverty and homelessness identified by B.C. voters as overwhelmingly most important issue

John Horgan leaves Government House after being sworn-in as Premier in 2017. A new poll shows Horgan with a 51 per cent approval rating midway through his term as premier. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

Halfway through its mandate, the ruling B.C. NDP has the greatest level of support in the province, according to a new poll.

Numbers published by Research Co. found 39 per cent of decided voters would vote for the NDP if an election was held tomorrow, compared to 30 per cent for the B.C. Liberals, 21 per cent for the B.C. Green Party and nine per cent for the B.C. Conservatives.

Research Co. president Mario Canseco said that while the NDP has maintained support and the Greens gained a little, the big surprise was the 10 per cent drop for the Liberals from the 2017 election.

"It's been a tough six months for them — discussions about money laundering, discussions about what the last government did," said Canseco.

"They need to revitalize and rejuvenate because it's been difficult to hold on to the same level of support when you have a bunch of people who are no longer running the government."

Premier John Horgan and Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson. (Canadian Press/Mike McArthur/CBC)

Canseco says the increased support for the B.C. Conservatives is likely the result of centre right voters looking for an alternative to the Liberals.

Whether that newfound support can translate into elected members is another issue, he said, because in the last election the party ran candidates in just 10 of the 87 provincial ridings.

The poll also found that 51 per cent of voters in B.C. approve of the performance of Premier John Horgan, while 34 per cent disapproved. 

Canseco says Horgan's strong rating is "eye catching" considering sitting premiers usually register a 35 to 40 per cent approval rating.

Housing and homelessness were overwhelmingly identified as the No. 1 issue facing British Columbians, according to the poll. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"A lot of people perhaps were expecting that the economy would tank and the unemployment rate would be higher, that the NDP would be a bad economic manager. But you also have about a third of the people who voted for the B.C. Liberals who say that he's doing a good job as premier," he said.

B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver registered an approval rating of 42 per cent while Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson stands at 34 per cent.

According to the poll, 42 per cent identified "housing, homelessness and poverty" as the most important issue facing the province.

That number was even higher among the 18-to-34 age group (49 per cent), Metro Vancouverites (47 per cent) and women (45 per cent).

"Particularly for millennials, there's still a lot of animosity on the housing issue from younger residents who want to enter the real estate market and can't," said Canseco. 

"We've had this issue up at 50 per cent and 60 per cent [in the past], so it's starting to come down. But it definitely hasn't been enough for the 18-to-34 crowd, even though we've seen that the housing taxes have been very popular."

Poll results are based on an online study among 800 adults in British Columbia and were weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in B.C.

A randomized sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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