The House

Battleground Watch - British Columbia

In the latest instalment of our Battleground Watch, the CBC's poll analyst Eric Grenier breaks down the numbers and highlights the most interesting races in British Columbia.
The Vancouver and Lower Mainland area is shaping up to be a three-way race between the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP, the CBC's poll analyst Éric Grenier tells The House in his latest battleground riding analysis. (Canadian Press)

A lot can change in just four years.

Back in 2011, British Columbia was a key victory for the Conservatives, who captured 21 of the then 36 seats up for grabs. 

"Now, their numbers are down big — they're down about 20 points since the last election," the CBC's poll analyst Éric Grenier tells The House in our Battleground Watch. 

What party is positioned to swoop in and take those seats?

That would be the NDP, Grenier says.

"The NDP's leading with about 38 per cent and they can now win maybe up to two thirds of the seats there," he says. "It's moving towards the New Democrats and they are now in a really strong position."

But geography, as always, is promising to shake things up a bit. 

"Vancouver Island is really interesting, because that's where you have these New Democrat-Green battles," Grenier says. 

Yes, the Greens are putting up a fight — and not just in Green Party leader Elizabeth May's riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, which she's held since 2011. 

"One of the ridings the Greens are going to be targeting is Victoria, which they almost won in a by-election in 2012," says Grenier.

"Another one they'll be targeting is Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, which might be a bit more of a long shot for the Greens but they are putting some resources into there."

Grenier's also got his eye on ridings where the Conservative incumbent isn't running for re-election, such as Minister of Industry James Moore's riding of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Cariboo-Prince George (Dick Harris), North Okanagan-Shuswap (Colin Mayes) and Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge (Randy Kamp).

"Definitely whenever there isn't an incumbent running, it opens up some ridings," Grenier says. "These are ridings the NDP could pick up."

But what exactly is driving the NDP's strong numbers in B.C.?

Call it the Notley effect, Grenier says.

"We go back to that Alberta victory," he says. "Once that happened, the NDP in B.C. started picking up points. Since the beginning of May when that election happened, [the NDP in B.C.] have been up 13 points. So it's really a movement towards the New Democrats that we've seen reflected throughout the country."

That means B.C. will continue to be a pivotal province for both the Conservatives and NDP, Grenier says. 

"If the Conservatives can't win 20 seats (of the 42 available) in B.C., it's going to be very hard for them to form a government," he says.

"And for the New Democrats, it's really one of their pillars on their route to a minority. They need B.C. and they need Quebec, and they have them both right now in the polls."

Haven't got enough numbers? Éric Grenier joins The House over the summer for a deep dive into the polls and the data surrounding various battleground ridings across Canada.