Uniting the right will not prevent the NDP's Adrian Dix from becoming the next premier of British Columbia, according to a new poll.
The Angus-Reid survey of 802 British Columbians, conducted online between May 7-9, pegs B.C. NDP support at 50 per cent. The governing Liberals under Christy Clark manage only 23 per cent, while John Cummins' B.C. Conservatives muster 19 per cent support.
This represents a gain of seven points for the NDP since Angus-Reid's last poll taken in late March, with new support coming from the interior and the northern parts of the province, where the Conservatives are polling ahead of the Liberals.
Among men, the gap between the NDP and Liberals is smaller: 45 per cent to 28 per cent. But among women, the New Democrats hold a massive 38 point lead, with 55 per cent support to only 17 per cent for the Clark-led Liberals. The Conservatives, at 20 per cent, are actually doing better than the Liberals among female voters.
The B.C. Conservatives are certainly causing a lot of trouble for the Liberals. Though they were unable to place better than third in the two byelections that were recently swept by the NDP, the Conservatives have taken away almost one-third of voters who cast their ballot for the B.C. Liberals in the 2009 provincial election.
Nevertheless, the split on the right is not the only reason the NDP is on pace for a massive landslide. Even with the Liberals and Conservatives joined together in a "Free Enterprise Coalition" the New Democrats would walk away with a win.
Angus Reid puts support for such a coalition at only 20 per cent among decided voters if it were led by Clark, with 33 per cent opting for the NDP. Removing the undecideds gives the NDP a 20-point lead with 51 per cent to 31 per cent, still more than enough to give the party some 60-plus seats in the 85-seat legislature.
But those identifying Clark as the source of the Liberals' problems appear to be underestimating the real support for Adrian Dix's NDP. Replacing Clark with Cummins or Kevin Falcon, the province's Minister of Finance, changes little: roughly 32 per cent of decideds would vote for a united right led by Falcon, while only 27 per cent would vote for it if it were led by Cummins. In both cases, the NDP wins in a landslide.
This indicates that the antipathy that British Columbians have for the governing Liberals goes far deeper than a dislike of the premier or a split on the right. The New Democrats currently have the support of about half of B.C. voters, and not just because they are the only real alternative. If Clark wants to be premier after the May 2013 election, she will have to do more than simply re-arrange the deck chairs on the right.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said B.C. Conservatives are actually doing better than the NDP among female voters. They are doing better than the Liberals.
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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