Since naming Thomas Mulcair leader of the federal New Democrats, the party has seen a surge in support in almost every part of the country, and in particular British Columbia. But where in B.C. has the NDP made the most gains?
In polls taken throughout February and March, before the NDP’s leadership convention in Toronto, the federal Conservatives averaged 36 per cent support in B.C. This represented a big drop from the 46 per cent the party captured in the 2011 federal election, but still put them narrowly ahead of the NDP. Even without a leader, the party averaged 35 per cent support, up marginally from the 33 per cent of the last election.
After Mulcair was given the top job the NDP’s numbers increased considerably. The vast majority of polls have put them ahead, and the party has averaged 39 per cent support in polls since the leadership vote. The Conservatives have slipped only slightly to 35 per cent, while the Liberals have dropped from 19 to 17 per cent support.
But the NDP has not seen its support increase uniformly throughout the province.
In Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, where the majority of British Columbia’s seats are located, the NDP has seen support increase from about 33 per cent to 38 per cent, primarily at the expense of the Conservatives. The Tories have fallen to 34 per cent from 38 per cent, while the Liberals have taken a small step backwards to 19 per cent from 21 per cent, on average.
The NDP has also made a big leap forward on Vancouver Island, where the party is dominating. The average of polls taken since Mulcair’s leadership win puts the party at 46 per cent support, up eight points since pre-convention days. But instead of the Conservatives taking the hit (they have increased their support by three points to 29 per cent on the island), the Liberals and Greens have slipped to 14 and 10 per cent, respectively.
These changes in support have been mirrored at the provincial level. Adrian Dix’s New Democrats have seen support levels jump by five points in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island since February/March. However, Mulcair’s NDP has yet to make the same gains in the Interior and northern part of the province.
There, the federal New Democrats have actually lost support since before the leadership convention, when they were tied with the Tories at 38 per cent. They have since slipped to 34 per cent and trail the Conservatives by three points. But at the provincial level, the NDP has instead gained ground and has polled at around 52 per cent, well above where the federal New Democrats sit.
An inability to gain any major ground in the Interior and north is more than made up for by the NDP’s surge on Vancouver Island, Vancouver and the Lower Mainland — especially considering this is where most of the province’s six new seats will be created. British Columbia will be an important battleground in the next federal election and the battle lines in the province are already being drawn.
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.