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RSR ROBBINS Research - Canada Politics October 26, 2006
  Oct 26, 2006

A random telephone survey of 3500 respondents was conducted throughout 79 ridings in the Province of British Columbia. This survey was undertaken between October 17 2003 and October 27, 2003. The majority of the 79 ridings featured 40 respondents in each riding, however some areas were singled out for a more intensive study. This survey has a margin of error of 1.66% 19 times out of 20, at 99% confidence.

Question #1
Is it your custom to follow the news on radio, television or in newspapers each and every day?
Yes    36. %
No    52. %
I seldom follow the news    12. %
Question #2
Did you closely monitor the news relating to the forest fires and the floods in August and September of 2003 in British Columbia?
Yes    47 %
No    53. %
Question #3
Is it your custom to follow BC and/or Canadian political news on radio, television, or in newspapers each and every day?
Yes    24. %
No    76 %
Question #4
Is it your custom to follow U.S. political news on a daily basis?
Yes    15 %
No    80 %
Question #5
Did you closely follow the Race for Governor in California featuring movie star Arnold Schwartzenegger?
Yes    44. %
No    55 %
Question #6
Does Liberal politics featuring either Prime Minister Jean Chretien or Premier Gordon Campbell interest you?
Yes    21. %
No    77 %
Question #7
Will the proposed merger between the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Parties make you enthusiastic about watching, listening to, or reading about politics in British Columbia, and across Canada?
Yes    39 %
No    48. %
Question #8
If you had to select one of the following choices, which of these following British Columbia provincial parties would you most favour if an election were held tomorrow?
BC Liberals    34. %
NDP    30. %
Reform BC    21 %
Green Party    09 %
Commentary
Slightly more than one out of three respondents follow the daily news; nearly one out of two witnessed the news coverage of BC forest fires and floods Respondents are currently far less interested in provincial or federal political news than regular news. Fifteen per cent of respondents follow U.S political news on a daily basis Nearly one out of two respondents followed the recent Gubernatorial race in California Barely one out of five respondents is interested in political news relating to Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien or BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell. Over one-third, and up to one-half, of respondents are enthusiastic about provincial and federal politics as a consequence of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party merger. BC Reform makes huge leap in public opinion, New Democrats are steady, and BC Liberals have temporarily stabilized. Green Party ‘distracted’ by poor leadership choices and NDP encroachment
The “canary in the mine” comment by Prime Minister Paul Martin is most apt. Sixteen (16%) to twenty (20%) per cent of Canadians have given up on voting since the days of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Whatever legacy Mr. Chretien left it won’t be one of advancing democracy in Canada.
The BC Premier is already seen as being as ‘lame duck’ (possibly dead duck) as Jean Chretien. New Fixed Election dates will hurt the BC Liberals, as British Columbians can’t wait to throw Gordon Campbell out. I don’t agree with analyst Norman Spector’s comments that none of the current NDP Leadership candidates are able to go “toe-to-toe” with Gordon Campbell.
British Columbians believe the “Liberal” label is out of fashion. Respondents who chose BC Liberal in this poll are often reluctant to say so. They are ashamed to be a Liberal in British Columbia.
The people producing the news are providing a dull product, and the politicians are giving them nothing to work with. The same old crowd of talking heads, analysts, and experts is “worse than watching paint dry”, and it seems only ‘bad’ news is interesting. One respondent indicated that the news is like an “ongoing soap-opera, where you can miss it for two weeks, watch it again, and realize you have missed nothing
Political Leaders say they represent their constituents, however they don’t ‘know their clients’. Generally, the political industry, like the music industry is in trouble.
British Columbians are sick of politics; they are sick of selfish Jean Chretien, sick of self-absorbed, non-empathetic Gordon Campbell, sick of minority interests, sick of spendthrift bureaucrats, and sick of having their money lost and or stolen. They are sick of the partisan public relations for advertising revenue in the news. They are sick of partisan ‘bought’ political coverage.
Advertisers may be paying too much for space in provincial media.
The Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party Merger should create a lot of excitement in homes and elsewhere across British Columbia and Canada. If the media mishandles this with the usual establishment partisanship and dull Bay Street productions, the canary may yet die. Voter turnout in the next Federal Election will be the ultimate arbiter.
Stephen Harper and Peter McKay have given up a lot for democracy and respondents are aware of this. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein may have tremendous political influence and a lot to say, but to BC watchers of news he is as ‘played’ as a worn-out sitcom. Premier Klein’s comments about BC politics (recent endorsement of Campbell as Conservative) will simply annoy BC voters further. Klein hurts the merger in BC. Like Preston Manning or Joe Clark, Premier Klein has had his day.
Reform BC is reaping huge dividends from this merger and could potentially crack thirty per cent in this province if the merger is ratified, and a new Conservative Leader is chosen.
Reform BC is benefiting from respondents who can’t tolerate either the NDP or the BC Liberals provincially. The “new” Reform respondents indicated that they have made conscious decisions to move to Reform BC (“my husband and I (65+) have talked this over and we have decided we will vote for Reform in the next provincial election”(Parksville Qualicum) when they haven’t considered voting Reform previously
Other Reform BC selections come from the ranks of Federal Conservatives and Canadian Alliance. The Reform response is positive and swift, the NDP response is measured and the current BC Liberal vote is very, very soft.
The majority of respondents who did not express enthusiasm about the proposed merger often indicated they ‘favoured’ The BC Liberals. This raises questions about the past and current relationship between The BC Liberals and The Canadian Alliance Party. The first question is: why is there a relationship?
Both the BC Liberals and Canadian Alliance have used ‘common’ fund-raisers and party bureaucracies in the past. Perhaps that answers the question.
Former Reform Leader Preston Manning is seen as having only part support from those respondents who answered either “Yes” or “No” to question number seven. In fact it appears Mr. Manning has left a legacy of political hodgepodge in this province. Despite his fans in the media, he has limited positive influence in BC federal politics.
The Green Party is slowly slipping into NDP hands. Currently, it isn’t committed. Ipsos Reid placed The Green Party at seventeen per cent in the north and interior. For a major pollster to advance such artefacts reflects in the growing mistrust establishment news, where science has become nothing more than public relations, and support for fund-raising.
The Unity Party does not exist in the province in any truly demonstrable way. Out of 150 respondents in Salmon Arm in this survey (where Unity intends to hold its AGM), zero respondents selected Unity as a party they favour. Reform (40%) and BC Liberals (36%) were the strongest, and NDP (26%) did reasonably well also. Only twenty four per cent (24%) of respondents in Salmon Arm are enthusiastic over the merger of The Canadian Alliance and Conservative Parties.
Virtually every respondent that “favoured” BC Liberal was not enthusiastic about the merger in Salmon Arm. Why is CA MP Darryl Stinson going to the Unity convention? Why is CA MP John Cummings going to The Unity convention? Why is that other CA guy from the North Island travelling to Salmon Arm?
The Okanagan constituencies revealed Reform BC at forty-two per cent (42%) with BC Liberals next at thirty six per cent (36%). In The Okanagan riding’s enthusiasm is nearly 50/50 with respect to the merger of Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives. Paul Martin is also well liked in this area.
Reform BC is at forty per cent (40%) in Kamloops, with NDP following at twenty-six per cent (26%) and BC Liberals trailing at just twenty per cent (20%). Twenty-five per cent (25%) of respondents are enthusiastic about the CA PC merger.
Nelson-Trail-Cranbrook shows the Green Party at thirty-three per cent (33%) the NDP at thirty per cent (30%) the BC Liberals at twenty two per cent (22%) and Reform at sixteen per cent (16%). Forty-two per cent (42%) support for the CA PC merger comes from all parties but particularly NDP and Reform BC.
Prince George features NDP at thirty-four per cent (34%) Reform is at twenty-seven per cent (27%) and BC Liberals are at twenty-one percent (21%). Green is at six per cent (6%) and Unity is at two per cent (2%).
In the twenty-three ridings in the north and interior constituencies Reform BC (34%), NDP (30%), BC Liberals (28%) Green (5%) and Unity (4%).
Through the Fraser Valley region, The BC Liberals have (45%) NDP (23%) Reform BC is at (22%) and Unity is at (10%). Support for the merger is approximately forty-five per cent (45%).
The NDP support in the Fraser Valley is non-socialist in nature. They can provide voting support to Reform BC and take away BC Liberal seats. All things being equal, a loss of Fraser Valley seats currently held by BC Liberals will seriously hurt any chance of another BC Liberal majority in 2005.
Surrey is a surprise. BC Liberals (40%) NDP (27%) Green (17%) and Reform (12%). Only eleven per cent (11%) expressed an interest in the merger. I believe immigration trumps same-sex and family values amongst Indo-Canadian voters. CA MP Germit Grewal, one of the best the CA has, should seriously look at his political future. He can win, but if he loses he hurts himself politically. Surrey is not Conservative country.
Reform could provide voting support to the NDP in these ridings as a quid pro quo for the Fraser Valley seats.
Tri-City is a contrast to Surrey with respect to merger enthusiasm. Nearly fifty per cent of Tri-City respondents are enthusiastic about the merger. BC political support goes to BC Liberal (38%) NDP (32%) Reform (16%) Green (11%) and Unity (3%). Is BC Lion ‘great’ Nick Hebeler returning to BC politics in the Tri-City where he was raised?
Why not a long overdue BC Liberal Cabinet position for an Asian Minister? Is Gordon Campbell really that unaware that he believes Asia; particularly China will do business with a Province that has no Asian Ministers? Is there a competent BC Liberal in sensitive geo-political riding like, say, North Burnaby? The NDP tide is sweeping through Burnaby from Vancouver City, and the Premier needs to stem the flow quickly. His best bet is North Burnaby along the North Shore, which flows into Port Moody Westwood.
With a least one half dozen more Ministers than he needs, perhaps Mr. Campbell could risk one in North Burnaby, which never seems to get much of anything from government.
In a supplementary question to Vancouver City respondents, fifty two per cent (52%) support Paul Martin for Prime Minister, while thirty eight per cent (38%) support NDP Leader Jack Layton. A CA PC candidate will win nothing here.
Port Alberni reveals NDP (42%) Liberals (40%) Reform (12%) and Green at (6%).
In Parksville-Qualicum one hundred (100) respondents were obtained, with Reform BC (30%) NDP (28%) BC Liberal (27%) and Green (14%). Sixty per cent of respondents, highest in the province, supported the merger
Duncan-Cowichan garnered 60 respondents. Fourty-five per cent (45%) support NDP followed by BC Liberal (30%) Reform (12%) and Green at (12%). Fifty per cent (50%) supported the merger, which comprised an eclectic mix of all parties (like nowhere else in the province).
Victoria reveals NDP (43%) BC Liberals (29%) Green (17%) Unity (8%) and Reform at (2%). Victoria reveals one-third of respondents are interested in the merger. A Pretty high interest for a City not known for its work ethic.
Unity has its highest support in the Fraser Valley, at nearly ten per cent (10%) followed by Victoria at eight per cent (8%). This survey reveals that Unity has a pulse in only thirty constituencies. Recent mainstream polls reveal Unity at 1, 2 or 3% province wide.
Unity has failed in its attempt to ‘steal’ Reform support and thanks to BC Liberal dominated media is slowly eating away at BC Liberal support, biting the foolish hand that is feeding it. Unity did not do the hard work to secure Reformers to its cause. Instead Leader Chris Delaney was more eager to take the media attention for himself. A new party cannot win voters simply by appearing on radio and TV shows (with dubious ratings). A movie actor needs a movie to promote, a television star, a show. Chris Delaney has no show he promotes a shell. Filling ‘dead’ air space.
BC Liberals have only hurt themselves promoting Unity Leader Chris Delaney. They have also hurt themselves promoting Green. I estimate that BC Liberals have lost between one per cent (1%) and two per cent (2%) to Green and Unity combined throughout BC. Now that is some ‘penny wise’ public relations strategy!
The New Democrats so-called leadership contest of ‘no-names’ is producing slow and methodical dividends for the party. I respect the party for the mere fact that they are patient and committed. Respondents are turning off the TV or watching something other than news. Maybe some new NDP political faces will bring viewers back.
I am confident that the New Democrats will eventually erode Green support. As Green supporters turn back to the NDP, the BC Liberals will continue to ‘fill the Green tank up again’ allowing the NDP a constant source of new voters between now and 2005.
NDP is solid throughout Vancouver Island, Vancouver, and Burnaby. They average forty per cent in most of these constituencies and could, with Reform BC help, realize most of these seats.
BC Liberal Solicitor General Rich Coleman either accidentally or through some quick thinking has come through for the BC Liberals in the past weeks. He is a very competent politician. He has what the BC Liberals have lacked. He is the best political communicator in The BC Liberal Party. If he can keep his large form fit ego in check; he will help his beleaguered party with his presence.
The BC Liberals are competitive throughout most of the other ridings in the province. They remain in charge in the Fraser Valley, Surrey, Coquitlam, the North Shore, and in Richmond. The Unity Party guards the BC Liberals against the Reform Party in the Fraser Valley region. Any serious challenge to Unity in that region will collapse it.
The Unity Party is comprised of what appears to be former Family Coalition members. One wonders why Unity did not hold its AGM in the Fraser Valley where they are recognized? Are they travelling all of that distance to avoid Heather Stillwell and her Family Coalition posse? Ms. Stillwell and other religious leaders have left The Unity Party, however it appears Chris Delaney would prefer to keep this a secret.
Chris Delaney’s Public Company has been suspended for a long time, with many of those brokerage houses involved, being linked to The BC Liberals. Will Unity survive until 2005? Chris Delaney is no Einstein but he is also no quitter.
Reform’s political stock just jumped and won’t fall again given the nature of the federal political scene. Support is nearly at 1994 totals when Reform had almost 20,000 members.
Reform is not a vote-split party as it is taking votes from both other mainstream parties towards its ever rising totals. Reform competes with NDP in four to six ridings, and with the BC Liberals in ten ridings. Reform challenges or is ahead in 14 ridings in the North and Interior and is ahead in one riding on Vancouver Island. Reform currently influences potential outcomes in seventy-six (76) BC ridings.
Merger: Vancouver Island, the Tri-City region including Coquitlam, and the Fraser Valley are extremely enthusiastic about the coming proposed merger. Vancouver Island, particularly mid-Island was most enthusiastic. Conservatives on Vancouver Island support Reform provincially.
Vancouver City doesn’t watch the news and doesn’t care about the events surrounding the merger. Many Vancouver respondents indicated that the news was “a waste of time” or “boring”. Prince George is second lowest in this category followed by Surrey, North Vancouver, Burnaby, and Salmon Arm. Most of BC Liberal supporters are not interested in the merger of the CA and PC.
Duncan-Cowichan was the only riding anywhere in BC other than the Kootenays that projected an interest in the political merger from all parties.
Reform and NDP supporters comprised the majority of the respondents interested in the merger news. Provincial seniors who are NDP provincially are overwhelmingly in support of merger.
Reform members don’t support the merger, yet the merger will benefit Reform politically. Approximately one-quarter of total provincial Reform support does not want the merger.
This sentiment is reflected throughout the current Reform BC membership. How will Reform Leader Ron Gamble respond to this ‘lovely paradox’?
Political leaders should be very careful about the disparity between members’ demands and public opinion. It is my theory that British Columbians will accept Stephen Harper as the new leader of the New Conservative Party of Canada over potential candidate Mike Harris. I don’t believe Preston Manning is a ‘true’ factor.
Political Science will always trump public relations and media spin. Push-Polls and Editorial ‘spin’ from major newspapers has little affect to what is happening on the ground provincially, even amongst swing voters, unless the environment is profoundly competitive.
Our ‘swing voter’ lists like Reform right now. Gordon Campbell is trapped to the right of Reform on the political continuum. Women between the ages of 40-50 are considering Reform. They won’t vote for Gordon Campbell.
Small business is moving to Reform. They are certain The BC Liberals are only interested in large Corporations and their big dollars. A party like Reform BC can actually achieve political success without much media support, if the proper timing and political circumstances exist. The one condition that must prevail is, are adequate ‘skilled’ troops on the ground? Will Leader Ron Gamble continue to be ignored by the media as his support climbs through the merger and (possibly) beyond?

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