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With two full weeks of the campaign now behind us, the BC NDP retains what appears to be a strong lead, with recent polls placing them between 11 and 18 points ahead of the BC Liberals. But with nearly three weeks left to go, there’s plenty of opportunity for the race to tighten up yet. 

It’s worth noting that the BC Liberals, now polling in the low 30s, are about ten points below the mid-40s support level they usually achieve on election day. And with as many as a third of British Columbians saying they are still undecided about how to vote — much higher than usual — it’s quite possible many traditional BC Liberal supporters will come home in the final stretch. Certainly, BC Liberal Leader is working hard to reach them by delivering the campaign’s boldest election promises, pledging last week to cut the provincial sales tax until the economy recovers, and over the weekend promising a referendum that would give Surrey voters a chance to overturn municipal plans to implement their own police force.

The BC Green Party, for its part, is polling in the low teens, well above its historical election day support levels of 8% but short of the 17% support gained for the 2017 breakthrough under former leader Dr. Andrew Weaver. Particularly as Dr. Weaver last week endorsed John Horgan and the BC NDP, a courtesy he’s since granted to a number of NDP candidates around the province.

As the campaign approaches the mid-point, party leaders will begin preparing for the October 13 debate. In a campaign without traditional means of voter contact — no door knocking, no rallies — the debate will be more important than ever for Wilkinson and BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, who need to put a dent in the NDP lead.  

Later today, John Horgan will be releasing the BC NDP platform. We’ll see in the coming days whether their commitment will have material impact on voters during the campaign.

Races to watch

Oak Bay Gordon Head

It’s been 24 years since the NDP held this seat, but many believe this time, with Murray Rankin as its candidate, the NDP is poised to win again.  As the former MP for the area, Rankin has wide name recognition and respect across the political spectrum.  It also doesn’t hurt that the BC NDP has the support of the constituency’s well-known former Green MLA, Dr Andrew Weaver.  With advantages like those, look for this seat to be orange on election night.

Vancouver False Creek

Far from a bellwether constituency, Vancouver-False Creek is an upscale urban enclave of sleek condo towers which has long supported BC Liberals. So, it’s certainly turning heads that John Evans, founder and CEO of Yaletown’s lavish Opus Hotel, this weekend endorsed Brenda Bailey and the NDP. Bailey, a tech entrepreneur with tight connections in the business community, looks to be a serious challenge to incumbent BC Liberal MLA and former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan. With higher name recognition and a reputation for ruthlessly effective campaigns, expect Sullivan to mount a strong defence and prove an outlier should the provincial BC Liberal vote collapse. This one will be interesting.

Courtenay-Comox

This was the riding that decided the 2017 election. The BCNDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard won by just 189 votes after all the absentee ballots were counted two weeks after election night. A swing of just 94 votes from the NDP would have meant a BC Liberal majority. 

The difference this time is that the BC Conservatives, who siphoned away 2201 votes from the BC Liberals in 2017, are not running a candidate in the riding. This factor may prove decisive this election, and give the BC Liberals a much-needed pickup on the island. 

The BC Liberals are running longtime resident and entrepreneur Brennan Day against the incumbent, Ronna-Rae Leonard. Both are well known names in the community. 

While many people think of Vancouver Island as a bastion of left-wing politics, the riding of Courtney-Comox is decidedly blue collar. This area is known for logging, mills and the giant air force base located within its borders. The logging industry has suffered in the last few years due to a variety of macroeconomic factors, and has hit the local economy hard. This may provide an opening for a BC Liberal pickup in an otherwise tough electoral map.

 

Insights by David Bieber, Director, Western Canada, Jim Rutkowski, Senior Associate, and Ben Parsons, Account Director, Federal Advocacy.