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Polls a "complete failure"

Christy Clark stunned the province last night with a 44.4 per cent provincial Liberal win, and the loss of her own seat in Vancouver-Point Grey.
May 15, 2013 - 10:45 AM

After predicting a comfortable majority win for Adrian Dix and the NDP yesterday afternoon, UBCO political science professor Wolf Depner says his crystal ball has been shattered. 

"I'll be analyzing what happened and sweeping up the pieces in the coming days," Depner says.

He's not alone. Across the province, pollsters had put the NDP well in the lead. A day before the election, Ipsos Reid published results saying the NDP were eight points ahead of the Liberals. But last night, Christy Clark defied everyone and won 44.4 per cent of the general vote.

"There's a problem in the methodology of our polls," Depner says. "Even the internal party polls didn't see this coming. It was a complete failure right across the board."

He believes a variety of factors led to the B.C. Liberal victory, including the failure of the Conservatives to hold onto their votes.

"The collapse of the Conservatives helped the Liberals," Depner says. "They performed poorly even in the ridings they thought they had, like Vernon-Monashee."

He says much of the Conservative vote was shaky from the start, and a poor performance by leader John Cummins in the television debate spurred a lot of voters to migrate over to the Liberals.

At the same time, he says Dix's campaign "lacked a certain edge" and left people unclear about his message. He believes a lot of would-be NDP voters stayed home, while the youth vote "essentially evaporated."

"The Liberals had a clear message. It had lots of holes, but it was nonetheless clear and easily communicated. As simplistic as it was, it had an edge the NDP lacked," Depner says. "Christy Clark can obviously take a lot of credit for what happened, this was her victory, and quite a few people doubted she could pull it off. At the end of this term, they'll have been in office for 16 years, that's incredible."

While the province signed off on four more years of Liberal rule, Clark's own riding of Vancouver-Point Grey has had enough. But according to Depner, her leadership is not in peril.

"This is the only stain on the Liberal victory. She'll get a chance to run in a by-election and win a safe seat," Depner says.

The months ahead will be telling of Clark's character. "There's a difference between campaigning and governing. She's proven an effective campaigner, but it remains to be seen if she is an effective premier."

He says the province has been in campaign mode since 2011. "Many of her decisions were made with a political angle and the looming election in mind."

Now that the province is on the cusp of a brand new term, Depner says Clark will have to face the big issues: Enbridge, union contracts, the economy and health care.

While Clark is riding the wave of victory, Depner says it's likely the end for Dix. "He's doing a lot of soul searching right now, like many others, he is fraught. I really don't think he will be a viable leader for the NDP."

He suspects little competition will be coming from the Conservatives. "They did not prove themselves in this campaign, and I believe that trend will continue. The party is simply not within its time, something is off with them."

While the Conservatives flounder, Depner says another party is stepping up: the B.C. Greens. The party made history with the first ever elected Green MLA (Andrew Weaver in Victoria-Oak Bay).

After the epic failure of the poll services in this election, Depner isn't sure how they will be handled in the future.

"The pundits and political scientists first need to get a handle on what happened here," Depner says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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