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New poll finds Tories still leading in B.C., while scandals, blackface not swaying the vote

Last Updated Sep 24, 2019 at 1:26 pm PDT

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer (left) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right). (Source: Composite image, the Canadian Press)

Polls show that support for the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau's leadership has fallen significantly since 2015

The environment and climate change appear to be the top issues ahead of the October vote

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The blackface scandal doesn’t appear to have swayed voters in British Columbia, but new polls show the Liberals are still trailing the Conservatives in popular support by a very large margin.

“In this latest Liberal scandal, we found that 79 per cent of the general public in B.C. is following this story closely, which is really high for the type of story that it is,” says Insights West President Steve Mossop. “That includes about 38 per cent who say they are following it very closely.”

Insights West conducted two polls, the first from September 6 to 10 with 869 B.C. residents, and the second from September 19 to 23 with 867 – and found that while the Liberal Party is not faring well, the face-painting fiasco hasn’t had much of an impact on support.

“The public reaction is mixed. We have 52 per cent of the general public who say it is a serious issue, 26 per cent say it is somewhat serious and 26 per cent say it is very serious. It is hitting the agenda and it is resonating with voters,” Mossop tells NEWS 1130.

“But the interesting thing is that in two separate polls, we found there is no measurable impact on voter intention. We still have the Liberals considerably behind the Conservatives when it comes to overall intention to vote. That number hasn’t changed significantly in the past several months.”

Mossop says they have found support for the party under Justin Trudeau’s leadership has fallen significantly since the 2015 federal election. If this year’s election were held today, fewer than one in five people in B.C. would vote Liberal. The Conservatives, under Andrew Scheer, have 29 per cent support.

The NDP under Jagmeet Singh also held steady in both polls with 14 per cent voter support in B.C., while the Greens under Elizabeth May is also identical with 13 per cent in the first poll and 14 per cent in the second.

When thinking of Canada as a whole, the September 19 to 23 poll showed that British Columbians rate the environment and climate change as the top issue (23 per cent), followed by personal income, wages, and the cost of living (12 per cent), and housing prices and affordability (11 per cent). The national economy (nine per cent) and the federal budget (eight per cent) round out the top answers.

“The most interesting thing, though, is the differences along political divides,” says Mossop.

“We have some stark differences with only two per cent of Conservative voters who label climate change as the top issue compared to 33 per cent of Liberal voters and 36 per cent of NDP voters. That’s a massive difference. We also have housing prices, which get more mentions between Liberal and NDP supporters. For Conservative voters, it’s all about the economy, the deficit and spending. About 60 per cent of responses fit into those three categories.”

As for the leaders’ personal ratings, Insights West finds Trudeau and Scheer have some work to do.

“Overall approval ratings are mixed. The overall job performance when we look at Trudeau specifically show 61 per cent disapproval with 34 percent approval. In any election I’ve covered over a 25 year career, having double the number disapproving spells bad news for a political leader,” Mossop explains.

“When you look at the other leaders, we have a mixed bag. There are 46 per cent who are approving of Singh’s performance with 40 per cent who disapprove. Andrew Scheer is faring just as poorly as Justin Trudeau, with a 35 per cent approval rating and 54 per cent disapproval. The leadership may be a separate issue than overall voter intentions.”

The polls were conducted online and the margin of error in the first study is +/- 3.4 percentage points and +/- 3.3 percentage points in the second, 19 times out of 20.