Second poll shows Conservatives in dead heat with NDP

By Alec Lazenby May 9, 2024

Conservative Party of BC Leader John Rustad (left) and MLA Bruce Banman are the only Conservative MLAs in the BC Legislature, but some polls indicate that could be about to change. (Conservative Party of BC, Facebook)

A new poll compiled by Yorkville Strategies has the Conservative Party of BC in a statistical tie with the NDP, marking the second straight poll in which John Rustad’s party is challenging Premier David Eby’s governing party for supremacy.

In a memo circulated to subscribers, veteran pollster Dimitri Pantazopoulos said the data — which has the Conservatives garnering 31 per cent of the vote share compared to the NDP’s 29 per cent — represents “a significant threat to the BC NDP government.”

He said the results foreshadow the Conservatives as B.C.’s new right-wing party of choice. The poll has BC United at 13 per cent and the Greens in fourth with nine per cent. Approximately 18 per cent of voters remain undecided.

“These results point to another complicated election result in the fall,” said Pantazopoulos in the memo. “If the numbers remain unchanged, British Columbians could wake up the morning after the election to a result that has either the BC Conservatives or the BC NDP in power.”

He also floated the possibility of a hung parliament where BC United holds the balance of power with fewer than 10 seats.

The new poll comes on the heels of a Mainstreet Strategies survey released late April that had the Conservatives with 39 per cent of the vote among decided voters and the NDP with 36 per cent. In that survey, BC United polled 15 per cent.

Rustad told BC Today the results demonstrate British Columbians are ready for a change and that BC United is “a little desperate at the moment.”

According to Rustad, BC United is starting to open up to the idea of merger talks with his party — something it rebuffed several times over the past year.

“They now seem to be interested in actually having a conversation, but the reality is we’re 135 days out to when the election starts,” Rustad said. “There’s little time now to be able to do anything meaningful between the two parties.”

BC United’s director of communications Adam Wilson said his party is focused on “real policy solutions” while the Conservatives are “spreading conspiracy theories about the premier’s whereabouts, and nominating candidates who believe COVID-19 vaccines make people magnetic.”

Wilson believes that “as British Columbians familiarize themselves with their options in the upcoming election, they will determine that BC United is the only party ready to hit the ground running and fix the issues they’re facing.”

BC NDP campaign director Marie Della Mattia sent BC Today a short statement.

“The only poll that matters is election day,” she said. “David Eby is taking real action to help British Columbians and their families so everyone can build a good life here. That’s our focus and always will be.”

Mash Strategy’s Allie Blades, who worked in the office of former BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and as a strategist on Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre’s leadership campaign, expects vote-splitting on the right will keep the NDP in power — but that the prediction of BC United’s demise is very realistic.

“The conversation is starting to shift towards BC United might not exist at the end of this year,” she said, pointing out that Pantazopoulos was the first to call the BC Liberals’ surprising victory in 2013.

She agreed with Rustad, however, that it is far too late for BC United and the Conservatives to come to any kind of merger agreement before the provincial election.

At the end of the day, Blades thinks this poll might be a “blessing in disguise” for the NDP.

“If this was any other election, and we didn’t have this divide on the centre-right, they would be suffering, but because of this dysfunction, they’re getting a hall pass this time around,” she said.