Editorial — Liberals have opportunity to close the gap
The BC Liberals may be far behind the opposition NDP in the polls, but there are a few factors bubbling along — mostly under the surface — that may change their fortunes for the better by election day next May.
The Liberals still face an uphill battle in getting re-elected. The NDP is polling well, getting roughly twice the support that the Liberals are getting in recent polls. However, the most recent poll, which was published last week, showed the Liberals gaining a small amount of support, with the NDP slipping slightly.
This is simply one poll, and polling results are becoming less and less reliable, as the Alberta and Quebec elections this year have illustrated.
However, the Liberals will do even better if the BC Conservatives, who have taken a significant amount of support away from them, falter. The Conservatives are holding a meeting this Saturday in Langley, and one item on the agenda is a confidence vote on John Cummins’ leadership.
Should he not receive the backing of almost all the membership, the Conservatives will be thrown into chaos. While such a scenario seems unlikely, the Conservatives have a history of internal revolts and leadership dissatisfaction. If there is a significant split at the meeting, the Liberals will only gain.
A third factor is Premier Christy Clark herself. While Clark has taken plenty of heat, she showed on Sunday at Rich Coleman’s annual barbecue that she has a good ability to campaign and communicate. This is something Coleman and others have said — Clark is a good campaigner, and is an effective match for NDP leader Adrian Dix. This will be a significant factor as people make their minds up.
Another factor is that Dix and his party have been in the lead (in the polls) for a long period. The NDP is releasing almost no policy information, and this gap in information is causing more and more questions to be asked about the party’s actual agenda. These questions raise doubts in the minds of swing voters.
Should this lack of information about what an NDP government would be likely to do continue into the winter months, the Liberals may see their fortunes rise even more. Six months is a long time in politics, and next May’s election is even further away.
It is very likely that by next spring, the BC Liberals and NDP will be much more competitive than they are at present.