Monday, March 4, 2013

What is rock bottom for the BC Liberals?

I think this question is one worth asking because of a couple of weeks of bad news for the government

  • A weak throne speech 
  • A unbelievable budget - only 12% of people in an Ipsos poll believed it was balanced
  • Blurring of the lines between work for the province and the party when trying organize to get the "ethnic" vote
  • Pat Bell and the Wood Innovation Centre
  • Resignation of riding executive members
  • The hamfisted government of BC advertising - ask the under 40s you know what they think of them, the government is driving them away with the ads.

It is not only these event but an ongoing set of problems and general sense of malaise about the government.   This should all realistically have an impact on the popularity of the Liberals.   The danger is that as the party stumbles more people with issues are going to pile on and things are going to spiral downwards.   So my question becomes how low can support for the Liberals go?

The last poll to come out was on February 24th from Angus Reid and they were polling February 21st and 22nd so we have not seen if the recent events are having an impact on support for the Liberals.  I would be very surprised if the problems did not reduce the party support to 25% or less.

It is hard to know where the bottom is but when you look at some examples from BC political history it gives you some parameters:

Election Party        Pct of the vote
1972 Social Credit     31.2% they lost 33% of their 1969 vote
1991 Social Credit     24.1% they lost 51% of their 1986 vote
1993 Federal PCs in BC 13.5% they lost 62% of their 1988 vote
1993 Federal NDP in BC 15.5% they lost 58% of their 1988 vote
2001 NDP               21.6% they lost 46% of their 1996 vote

The average drop in a wipe out election is 50% of the percentage the party achieved in the previous election.   This means it is entirely reasonable to contemplate the BC Liberals being at 23% on election day.   The range of the drops in past elections translate into 17.4% to 30.7% for the BC Liberals.    Finishing the election with less than 20% of the vote is now a possibility for the Liberals.   Some polling in 2012 indicated that the Liberals were in the 20% to 24% range, I personally was not convinced that those numbers were an accurate reflection of the public mood at the time and I still remain skeptical of them.   Given the recent events I now would not be surprised to see the Liberals poll at 20% to 25% in the next polls to come out.

At 23% the Liberals are only realistically safe in two ridings and would be lucky to win five in total.
At 20% the Liberals have a shot at two seats and could be shut out.
At 17% the Liberals would likely be shut in the election.

If the Liberals do end up at 23% or less on election day it is not even certain they would be the official opposition.   At that low a support level it becomes possible for the Greens to potentially win more seats than the Liberals and be the official opposition.  Possibly even the BC Conservatives could win more seats than the BC Liberals and form the official opposition.

If the BC Liberals are reduced to 375,000 votes, what are the other 375,000 2009 Liberal voters going to do in this election?   It is those people that will determine what sort of an opposition we will have in BC and they could hand us something entirely new and very different.
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