Column: Poll numbers offer early look at federal campaign

Apparently there has been a pretty interesting shift in dynamics as to who people would vote for if the election was held now.

If polls are anything to go by in this marathon election campaign, British Columbians appear to be shunning the Conservative Party and looking seriously at Mulcair’s NDP.

An Insights West online poll was held between August 20 and 24 and targeted 815 adult British Columbians. Apparently there has been a pretty interesting shift in dynamics as to who people would vote for if the election was held now.

According to the poll, 41 per cent of decided voters would vote for the NDP. That’s an increase of six points since a poll conducted in May. The Liberal Party came in second at 24 per cent (one point less than previously) and the Conservatives at 22 per cent (a slide of seven points). The Green Party was in 4th place with 12 per cent (an increase of two points) of the surveyed sample.

True, polls are only a momentary snapshot of the mood of the moment. As parties falling behind are apt to point out, the only poll that counts is the one in the ballot box on voting day. But those who love numbers reach for them strategically.

The NDP’s lead was pretty consistent across genders and three age groups while the Conservatives got their best numbers from the 55 plus age group. Predictably, the Liberals picked up their best numbers from younger voters 35-54 years of age.

Metro Vancouver mirrored the provincial score with NDP clearly ahead at 43 per cent, Liberals with 25 per cent and the Conservatives with 23 per cent. But on Vancouver Island there was a healthy increase in support for the Greens from 20 per cent in May to 32 per cent in August putting them just seven points short of the NDP at 39 per cent.

We’re a lifetime away from polling day and 42 per cent said they could change their minds. Likely that will make things very fluid especially considering the poll found that 75 per cent of the British Columbians surveyed believe it’s time for a change of government, including 43 per cent who voted for the Conservative Party in the last election. In fact, 60 per cent said they would be very upset if the Harper government got another chance to form the government again.

Between August 7 and 10, Ipsos Reid conducted a poll on behalf of Global News to identify the major concerns that will influence how voters will cast their ballots. They polled a sample 2,022 Canadians.

The top priorities among Canadians included managing the economy 76 per cent), addressing the health care system (73 per cent), and creating jobs (also 73 per cent). Addressing the cost of living and keeping communities safe from crime made up the top five concerns of those polled. Ipsos-Reid said on their website that the Conservatives lead on addressing the economy and crime, the NDP leads on fixing the health care system and the rising cost of living while both the Conservatives and the NDP are tied on addressing the need to create jobs.

Insights West reported that the popular guy (or gal) as party leader according to British Columbians puts NDP Thomas Mulcair in the driver’s seat (55 per cent and up 3 points) followed by Green Party leader Elizabeth May (52 per cent, up 8 points). She is closely nudged by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (51 per cent, up 5 points). Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper had the lowest number at just 28 per cent (a loss of 7 points).

Like many in the rest of the country, British Columbians see jobs and the economy as the most important issues followed by government accountability, health care, the environment, housing, poverty and homelessness.

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