The campaign is underway. The first poll - by Strategic Counsel for the Globe and Mail - echoed a number of earlier surveys in giving the Liberals a 46-38 lead over the NDP with the Greens at 13%. The seat estimate this produces is 52 Liberals and 27 NDP with nothing for the Greens. The only prospect for a Green seat appears to be leader Adriane Carr’s Powell River-Sunshine Coast constituency.
With a prosperous economy and a balanced budget one might think the contest will be an uninteresting march to the result just cited.
However, the poll has some numbers that do suggest some uncertainty. Most important are Premier Campbell’s negatives – with 42% rating his performance poor or very poor, compared to just 25% calling it excellent to good. In addition 64% thought strongly or somewhat that Mr. Campbell did not understand the concerns of ordinary British Columbians. Anyone with that baggage is vulnerable to the appropriate constellation of personalities, issues and events.
This brings us to the second great unknown that emerges from this poll: NDP Leader Carole James. She is not well known, with just 52% able to identify her. How the public reacts as they get to know her from media coverage of the campaign cannot be known in advance. If it is highly favourable, it could matter given that Campbell is less than beloved.
My intuition continues to be that the BC Liberals will win with the NDP staging a major recovery. The strong performance of the Greens in the last election in 2001 was aided by voters fleeing a discredited NDP. In that sense this election is a critical test for the Greens, one they appear likely to fail. Their support is spread to thinly to win any seats in our first-past-the-post system. Their efforts are likely to be futile at least this time out.