Ipsos Reid has released a poll detailing the state of the parties in British Columbia only four days after Insights West was in the field. It has a very different story from Insights West and even a different story from the last time it was in the field.
The Liberals are now in the lead with 42%. This is only a one point swing from Ipsos Reid’s May 2015 poll. However, the NDP has gone down from 44% support to 36%, placing it in second. Since the Liberals barely moved and the NDP has had a huge decline, odds are the change has little to do with the Liberals. Instead, it appears that the minor parties have gained from the NDP’s loss. The Conservatives have gone up 4 points to 11% and the Greens have gone up 2 points to 10%, which means that from the province-wide level it appears that the anti-Liberal vote is simply diverging.
Here is the seat projection using my model:
Vancouver: 44% Liberal (15 seats), 39% New Democratic (10 seats), 10% Conservative (0 seats), 6% Green (0 seats), 1% Independents/Others (0 seats)
Vancouver Island: 39% New Democratic (8 seats), 32% Liberal (4 seats), 25% Green (2 seats), 4% Conservative (0 seats), 0% Independents/Others (0 seats)
Rest of BC: 44% Liberal (32 seats), 28% New Democratic (9 seats), 18% Conservative (4 seats), 9% Green (1 seat), 2% Independents/Others (0 seats)
Total: 42% Liberal (51 seats), 36% New Democratic (27 seats), 11% Conservative (4 seats), 10% Green (3 seats), 1% Independents/Others (0 seats)
With these numbers, it appears that there is bad, bad news for the NDP. A year before the last election, it was in the lead with 50% and the Liberals and Conservatives looked like they were splitting second place. Even throughout the campaign the NDP was leading, and instead the Liberals won a stunning upset.
Here, the Liberals are plainly in the lead, and not just in the interior like last time. It has opened up a lead in Vancouver that it did not have before, and the party is projected to make gains in Vancouver Island, a longtime NDP stronghold. For a party that has been in power for 15 years and therefore vulnerable to the winds of change, it is a bad sign for the opposition that the incumbent is this strong.
At this point, the NDP should work hard on consolidating Vancouver and Vancouver Island at all costs. If they want a hope of even winning a minority government, this is what they have to do. What to do in the Interior is a little less clear. Depending on their resource level, they may very well be able to beat back Liberal leads in the Interior while increasing resources in the other regions. However, if they must make a choice they should abandon the Interior. It appears that quite a bit of anti-establishment vote is not going to the NDP, who may not be ideologically in line with the region, but rather to the Conservatives, who are not so ideologically opposed to the Liberals but represent a change. The Conservatives successfully taking on the Liberals in the Interior while the NDP takes on the Liberals in the cities is a gamble for the NDP, but may be well worth it.
However, there is one major obstacle for the NDP in even holding steady: the Greens in Vancouver Island. They have been doing quite well in the area, and with hard work and determination they could overtake the NDP in the region. Since the Greens and NDP are competing for the same voter base, any gain the Greens make is most likely a loss for the NDP, though they are taking small but meaningful support from disgruntled Liberals as well. Any attempt on the part of the Greens to make gains anywhere will set the NDP back. The NDP, which still has a lot of baggage from the 1990s, has to make itself look credible in the face of an alternative that has far less dirt.