The B.C. Conservatives are running neck and neck with the governing B.C. Liberals in second place for voter support, as the NDP continue to increase their hold on first place, according to the latest polling results.
According to the Angus Reid results released on Monday, 43 per cent of those surveyed intend to vote NDP in the next election, up one percentage point from the last poll in January.
But the biggest change was the battle for second place, with 23 per cent of those surveyed planning to vote Liberal — down five percentage points from January — while the Conservatives surged up five percentage points to 23 per cent.
The Green Party was in fourth position with eight per cent. The poll of 800 B.C. residents was conducted on March 29 and 30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent.
The poll also indicated support for Premier Christy Clarke has also fallen eight percentage points to 32 per cent, while support for NDP leader Adrian Dix remains stable at 45 per cent.
B.C. Conservative Party leader John Cummins showed the biggest gain in support of five percentage points, putting his support at 28 per cent, although a third of respondents were undecided about his performance.
Van Dongen defection hurts Liberals
Pollster Mario Conseco said the polling numbers show the Liberals are rapidly losing voters to the surging Conservatives as they deal with the ongoing teachers contact dispute and the defection of a former cabinet minster.
"Following two months that included a work stoppage by teachers and the defection of long-serving B.C. Liberal John van Dongen to the B.C. Conservatives, the governing party has fallen to its lowest level since July 2010, immediately after the harmonized sales tax came into force under Gordon Campbell," said Canseco.
"One third of the voters who supported the Campbell-led B.C. Liberals in 2009 are now backing the B.C. Conservatives. The party appears to be enjoying a surge in support after van Dongen decided to join."
The defection of van Dongen prompted sharp words around the legislature in Victoria.
On Sunday Liberal house leader Rich Coleman told a Vancouver radio station that he believes van Dongen had leaked confidential cabinet information to bloggers.
Van Dongen confirmed he talked to Vancouver blogger Alex Tsakumis about issues such as the BC Rail scandal, but he says he has never leaked internal or confidential information,
"Yes, I have had extensive conversations with him, but I've never leaked caucus secrets to him. There's a lot of information in the public domain."
He described Coleman's comments as part of a continuing campaign by his former colleagues to intimidate him.
"That's just an innuendo campaign. They're simply continuing to try and intimidate me. They're also trying to ensure no-one else leaves the caucus because this is how they'll be treated."