NDP Wave's Next Destination May Be B.C., Polls Suggest

The Huffington Post Canada  |  By Posted: 05/08/2012 9:14 am Updated: 05/08/2012 9:20 am

The NDP wave has already swept across Quebec, and B.C. may be the next province to succumb to the Orange Crush.

The New Democrats have a long history in B.C., having formed the government on several occasions. But the federal NDP has not won B.C. since 1988, when the party took 37 per cent of the vote under Ed Broadbent. Though their lead over the Progressive Conservatives was only two points, it was enough to give the party 19 of the 32 seats in the province.

The NDP also won the popular vote in B.C. in 1962, 1965 and 1972. But the party's drought in the province now stands at 24 years. Will it end in 2015?

It certainly could. The federal New Democrats have led in 10 of the last 13 polls in the province, and in six of the eight polls that have been conducted since Thomas Mulcair became leader on March 24.

The most recent survey from April 24-25 by Forum Research gave the New Democrats a massive 12-point lead over the Tories, with 44 per cent support to 32 per cent. The rolling, weighted average from ThreeHundredEight.com, on the other hand, gives the NDP a more modest three point edge: 38 per cent to 35 per cent for the Conservatives.

Even that represents a major shift in only 12 months. Compared to the last election, the NDP has picked up five points while the Conservatives have lost 11. The Liberals have also made gains and now average 18 per cent support, an increase of five points.

With these levels of support, the New Democrats can expect to make inroads in B.C.. One or two more seats should easily fall into their hands, but as many as five seats could change from Tory blue to NDP orange.

And this is with a narrow three point edge. With Forum’s numbers, the NDP could win between eight and 14 more seats in the province over and above what they currently hold.

These gains would come primarily in the Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island, though a few seats in the Interior could also flip to the NDP. But considering that the province is scheduled to receive six new seats when the riding boundaries are redrawn before the next election, the New Democrats are very well placed: those areas of potential NDP growth are also areas of strong population growth.

The performance of the provincial NDP is also boosting support for the federal party. The latest poll taken earlier this month by Forum Research gave the B.C. New Democrats 48 per cent support. The governing B.C. Liberals trailed by 25 points and have not led in a single poll since May 2011.

If the B.C. NDP forms the next government in 2013, and leader Adrian Dix’s popularity does not falter, the federal New Democrats will be in strong position to make significant gains in the province. With continued dominance in Quebec, B.C. could be the second plank of an NDP election victory in 2015.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.

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