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ROBBINS calls BC Election close-Ipsos Reid claims BC Liberals have big lead
  Apr 26, 2005

A random digit dialing of 525 BC respondents between April 25-27, 2005. Respondents were pre-qualified in that (i) they voted in the last general federal election, and (ii) they said they were aware of both Gordon Campbell, leader of the BC Liberals, and Carole James, leader of the BC NDP, and (iii) were intent on voting in the upcoming general provincial election. This survey was conducted in 14 regions throughout the province and features a margin of error of 3.75%, 18 times out of 20, at 98% competency.

Question #1
In your opinion is the upcoming general provincial election most about?
The Economy    36 %
Health Care    37 %
Education including Post Secondary    27 %
Question #2
Which federal political party do you currently support?
Federal Liberals    25 %
Federal NDP    28 %
Federal Conservatives    37 %
Federal Green    07 %
Undecided    03 %
Question #3
BC’s Truckers are threatening to strike and shut down the BC economy if they are not able to secure provincial government relief on high fuel costs. Consider this: BC Truckers receive about one-half of the pay that their US counterparts do, yet often carry double sized truckloads. The BC Liberal government recently granted the Hollywood movie industry provincial tax relief in the tens of millions of dollars. In your opinion should the next Premier of the Province grant BC Trucker’s some provincial tax relief on the purchase of fuel in order to keep the industry solvent?
Yes    77 %
No    23 %
Question #4
Which provincial leader and party in your opinion are best suited to manage the economy in BC?
Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals    52 %
Carole James and BC NDP    39 %
Adriane Carr and Green Party    04 %
Other    06 %
Question #5
Which leader and party in your opinion are best suited to manage health care in BC?
Adriane Carr and Green    15 %
Carole James and BC NDP    58 %
Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals    25 %
Other    02 %
Question #6
Which provincial party leader in this election would you prefer to see represent you as Premier of the province for the next four years?
Gordon Campbell    36 %
Carole James    41 %
Adriane Carr    10 %
Other    13 %
Question #7
For which political party do you intend to vote in the upcoming provincial general election?
BC Liberals    41 %
BC NDP    41 %
BC Green Party    09 %
Other    09 %
This poll could reflect changing fortunes for the BC Liberals during the second week of the election heading towards the first (televised) debate on all major BC networks on or about May 3, 2005, and an anticipated ‘workers protest’ on the Parliament lawns scheduled for May 1, which ironically is the date signified by the BC Truckers for their next move. While many British Columbians (particularly the press and mainstream pollsters) are predicting an easy win for Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberal Team, this poll suggests there may be cause for significantly less optimism.
British Columbians in this poll overwhelmingly support a provincial fuel cost break for BC Truckers.
British Columbians in the Northern 23 regions were nearly as supportive FOR the gas tax break as they were unified AGAINST the BC Liberals better known highway faux pas, the proposed sale of the Coquihalla Highway. One respondent in the Peace River region made the comment that “the province is making a fortune off oil and gas but the cost of shipping materials is going way up as well.” Another respondent in McKenzie said, “the highways up here need money they are in serious disrepair.” There was a general sense throughout the northern 23 ‘rural’ ridings that the Campbell government had neglected them and that businesses have prospered while many who have “carried the water” are getting “the short end of the stick.” One respondent in the Okanagan town of Oliver said, “If Gordon Campbell can give all those ‘fairies’ from Hollywood millions of dollars why not help out their own right here in B.C.” Another respondent from Sicamous said “Premier Campbell should come up to our neck of the woods and watch the Trucks go barreling down the Highway late at night…it’s terrifying particularly when you ask yourself if they have money leftover to fix the brakes.” There is a sense that Gordon Campbell has lost much moral authority with rural voters in this region of the province.
Respondents in the north and interior are taking a very close look at the news during the midst of the polling period that BC Liberals took money that did not belong to them. Some respondents (yesterday) asked our callers what this story was all about, and other respondents seemed to have the story wrong or thought it was somehow related to the federal Liberal’s situation, but our own assessment is that in light of Gomry and all the federal election talk, and MOST importantly the recent discussion, negotiation and ratification of a federal Liberal and NDP deal, BC voters in this poll are running around like a bomb has gone off. The Premier’s nonchalance and acting like everything is okay during his election tour is not in keeping with true leadership. The communications deficit that has long dogged Campbell’s government is showing no signs of ameliorating over the campaign. The BC election is on and the BC Liberals opponent Carole James is no longer Victoria’s secret she might have been even two weeks ago. Whoever is running Gordon Campbell’s campaign has his or her head in the sand (or elsewhere) from the feedback of these respondents. The BC Liberals should know better than to think you can win a war bombing from the sky. No ground game, no trophy. Don’t go into a defensive shell with a one-goal lead at the start of the second period. You can’t win a bodybuilding contest if you leave the entire stage to your opponent.
British Columbians in the Lower mainland and Vancouver Island are also supporting the BC Truckers plea for help. Respondents in the Lower Mainland are desperately concerned about their own escalating fuel costs and many respondents are of the opinion that these taxes ought to be returned not only to BC Truckers but directly to drivers as well. One Surrey respondent declared that “something has to be done to help them”, another New Democrat supporter in Langley said “this
Trucker problem is just one in a series of things Campbell didn’t fix that he should have.” This is particularly underscored when you consider that Prime Minister Paul Martin “the other Liberal” just announced money for BC amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars for Vancouver. Which Liberal is really running this province? ‘Who gave what to whom’ is what respondents want to know. There has been so much money flying around that the simplest explanation respondents can provide is “well its our money he (Campbell) is giving back.” One woman in Langford in the beginning part of the polling said, “I know Campbell is going to win, but I’m not sure that I want him to.”
To be clear the deal that Mr. Martin and Mr. Layton have apparently arrived at is more secure than any promises that Gordon Campbell makes, because the former two must deliver on the deal, and there is no history of Gordon Campbell doing so. Respondents in this poll will take a promise out of extended mutual political desperation than one of short-term election convenience. Whichever, the 600 to 700 million that the federal Liberal-NDP coalition would deliver is more likely to get to British Columbians on the ground through the BC NDP than the money the BC Liberals are (mostly) promising to other levels of government.
Many respondents in the Lower Mainland blame the Campbell government for not doing enough to properly fix transportation problems there while so much time and effort was spent on other issues like RAV which many see as linked to the 2010 Olympic Games, and not linked to solving greater transportation problems. (The Olympic Logo was unveiled during this polling period). Another New Democrat supporter echoed this sentiment by saying “Campbell only cares about his friends in Vancouver…the rest of us don’t matter.” A number of respondents in the suburbs commented on the ‘bubble boy’ campaign of Gordon Campbell. “He acts like he has my vote in the bag and he is sadly mistaken” said a respondent from Burnaby who was one of a fraction of federal Conservative voters who is voting ‘other’ in the general provincial election. Another respondent from North Vancouver told ROBBINS that she recently purchased dog food from a large Pet Store. “There was one cashier and a lineup behind me and the pet store manager came over and told this young woman cashier to keep an eye on a customer in the dog adoption section of the store and to make sure she did the data entry as well…this poor cashier looked shell-shocked.”
The number of respondents who are beginning to take Carole James seriously as a bona fide leader is rising and ROBBINS is ringing the bell to BC Liberal supporters that the tide may be turning against them.
One BC Liberals supporter in Aldergrove indicated that “there is no way I would vote NDP and certainly not Greens but I don’t understand what Campbell is doing out there.” Another respondent from Surrey said, “Campbell promises a lot but I seldom see him deliver.”
A Coquitlam respondent indicated, “It was ridiculous to think that Carole James could run an economy, if she gets in the province is going to pot.” Another forestry worker said that his life was “excellent” since Campbell got in, but his mother and father are counting their pennies every month and it is getting worse for them.” One Langley respondent (Wednesday) decried Marijuana leader Marc Emery’s comments about seniors being a drain on society but still another believed he was simply making a point about Campbell’s government being “unfair to seniors.” A Vancouver City respondent said, “I don’t believe that the BC Liberals did as good a job as they would have people believe, but the NDP Leader is untested and they need a turn in Opposition.” A woman in Maple Ridge said, “If I thought Gordon Campbell was the type of person who learned from his mistakes I would vote for him for sure, but I don’t think he gets it.”
BC respondents in the lower mainland and Vancouver Island are extremely concerned with the implications that a BC Trucker’s strike might have on the availability of products and the price of products. One respondent who indicated that he was a BC Trucker said “the problem is the BC Trucker’s have never been fully united and as soon as one breaks away and does a deal with the dispatchers and shippers than others move away and the whole effort falls apart.” He added, “This time the (BC) Trucker’s need to show they are serious and willing to play hardball.” Another respondent lamented the high cost of taking her family’s summer vacation owing to the “skyrocketing gas prices.” One Fraser Valley respondent indicated “he was having a good time, politics is interesting now I can’t wait to turn on the TV set and watch the news.” Another Surrey resident said that she was “confused” by everything that was going on and has decided to “try to ignore everything until Election Day.” One Burnaby woman said that although she normally votes New Democrat both federally and provincially, she voted for Stephen Harper last time and will again “because of the gay marriage thing.” She chose Carole James provincially because her husband also a senior citizen was paying too much for his Pharmacare.
British Columbians aren’t sure that Gordon Campbell cares about them.
The general consensus amongst respondents was that the BC Trucker’s should receive a ‘tax break’. Many respondents more particularly in the Lower Mainland were of the opinion that the tax breaks provided to movie producer’s just weeks ago, made no difference in their opinion on their decision to support the BC Trucker’s demands for relief.
Some respondents in this poll are seriously beginning to question the message of BC’s economic success and Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberal policies. Since the dropping of the Writ for the BC general provincial election, Gordon Campbell has not been very ‘visible’, and bad luck has dogged him. His election statement on CKNW at the beginning of the election period was interrupted by the announcement of the election of a new Pope; a Whale upstaged his election booklet announcement during the polling period. Lynn Stephens took attention away from
her former leader with a political stunt in Langley, and Campbell supporters heckled and protested against Carole James. This doesn’t hurt Carole James because protestors are perceived as anti-establishment, and this only made Carole James appear to be more Premier-like, or at least more centrist and less ‘left-wing’. Indeed, one women in the Kamloops area asked ROBBINS ‘if Carole James were elected would she be the first woman elected by the people to be Premier in the history of the province?’ “Yes” was our answer. British Columbians have a love hate thing with ‘firsts.’
This poll confirms what an SFU Professor recently said about the BC Liberal support one week ago. This Professor said the air is slowly coming out of the BC Liberal support. This poll suggests that the air may be coming out much more quickly than first thought.
Carole James and the BC NDP are perceived to be the protector’s of Health Care in this province, but the BC Green Party is encroaching upon their dominion on this issue. Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals have much less credibility with respondents on the Health file. We don’t get the impression that respondents are as willing as recent mainstream polls have suggested to accept increased privatization of health care to the extent suggested.
Education, which is another strong BC NDP bastion, is still dominated by Carole James et al, but the BC Liberals are competitive on this account.
Insight- During this polling period negotiations were taking place between the federal Liberals and Prime Minister Paul Martin and Jack Layton and the New Democrats, and a deal was confirmed near the last part of the poll’s solicitation of public opinion. It would appear that between Prime Minister Paul Martin’s delivery of over six hundred million to Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell, and now with many more millions anticipated to be coming to his province for social programs, with the recent deal between Paul Martin and Jack Layton, Gordon Campbell is beginning (in contrast) to either appear stingy despite his recent meanderings from fiscal prudence or less fiscally responsible if you are a strong fiscal Conservative. The question for many is whether or not British Columbians need both Stephen Harper and Gordon Campbell in theirs lives over the next few years.
BC Liberal partisans appear strategic and more aggressive at some NDP rallies while NDP supporters appear to be more ‘respectful’ of their opponents. These types of interruptions and heckling by BC Liberal supporters give the impression that Gordon Campbell’s supporters are bullying the opposition or in the alternative that they are afraid. Since the beginning of 2005 the BC Liberals have appeared to depend on good news announcements and advertising. Polling from many firms featured on reveals an increase in BC Liberal support from 40% or less in some cases, to between 43% to 46% since that time or an increase from 4% to 8% with a corresponding decrease in BC NDP support over the same period. ROBBINS estimates that the BC Liberals need (generally) 3.25% more in popular support than the BC NDP to win a majority. The 6-8% lead assessed by many mainstream pollsters since 2004 would reflect a very substantial win by the BC Liberals. What ROBBINS has heard on the ground in the past few weeks (and in particular this poll) contradicts this separation between the two parties. Whether or not BC voters will go with their instincts or go with the BC Liberal message is yet to be determined.
BC Liberal partisans appear at many NDP rallies while NDP supporters appear to be more ‘respectful’ of their opponents. These types of interruptions and heckling by BC Liberal supporters give the impression that Gordon Campbell’s supporters are bullying the opposition or in the alternative that they are afraid. Since the beginning of 2005 the BC Liberals have appeared to depend on good news announcements and advertising. Polling from many firms featured on reveals an increase in BC Liberal support from 40% or less in some cases, to between 43% to 46% since that time or an increase from 4% to 8% with a corresponding decrease in BC NDP support over the same period. ROBBINS estimates that the BC Liberals need (generally) 3.25% in popular support than the
ROBBINS believes that the negotiations, which took place between PM Martin and NDP leader Jack Layton, and concluded in an Agreement in Principle using federal dollars originally in the budget for Corporate Tax relief and ‘swapped’ for social programs is hurting Gordon Campbell’s campaign. There are far more federal Liberal supporters in this poll who support Carole James and the BC NDP than Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals. Slightly more than 70% of Gordon Campbell’s support comes from respondents who indicated that they would vote for the federal Conservatives. Yet, a number of federal Conservative supporters in this poll are not supporting Gordon Campbell.
ROBBINS believes a Gordon Campbell BC Liberal defeat benefits Prime Minister Paul Martin and federal NDP Leader Jack Layton, even if just for the short term. On the other hand a Gordon Campbell BC Liberal defeat may also benefit Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

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