Strategic Thoughts

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September 18, 2009

Campbell's Strong Disapproval Rating

The latest Ipsos-Reid poll confirms what other pollsters have been saying, that the popularly of the BC Liberals is falling like a lead balloon. The Ipsos-Reid news release said:

"For the record, at 35%, BC Liberal vote support is the lowest it has been since a September 1997 Ipsos -Reid poll (33%). However, BC Liberal support was also close to current levels in May 2004 and July 2004 (37% in both polls). Also for the record, at 45%, NDP vote support is the highest it has been since an August 1992 Ipsos Reid poll (52%). However, NDP support was also close to current levels in May 2004 (44%)."

The bigger story might be his very strong disapproval ratings. Ipsos-Reid asks those it polls whether, when thinking about the performance of a political leader, they strongly approve, moderately approve, moderately disapprove, strongly disapprove or don't know. The combined moderate and strong disapproval rating for Campbell was 46% in the November 2008 Ipsos-Reid poll, but his strong disproval rating was 25%. In the September poll, Campbell's disapproval rating was 63% and his strong disapproval rating was 47% - almost double the pre-election poll. By contrast, Carole James' disapproval rating went from 34% in November 2008 to 38% in September 2009, with her strong disapproval rating increasing from 16% to 19%.

It will be almost a year from now before we see another increase in the carbon tax and the implementation of the hated HST. The chattering classes are intrigued by every twist and turn in BC politics, but many British Columbians have yet to discover what an additional 7% tax (12% HST replacing the 5% GST) will do to what they pay for their cup of coffee, workday lunch or haircut. A lot of ordinary things will cost more but many people will not have more.

The new refrain from the Campbell cabinet is that times are tough so hard decisions have to be made. That invites close scrutiny of the priorities of the BC Liberals. They spent $500,000 of taxpayer money on an invitation only party for their friends in February at the Richmond speed skating oval. They increased the budget for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat by $8.4 million between the February pre-election budget and the September post-election budget. None of that spending is counted towards the maximum $600 million that the Campbell government claims it will spend on the Olympic Games.

It appears that there is a bottomless well of bad news yet to come for the Campbell government. If a credible conservative alternative emerges in BC politics, Campbell's disapproval ratings may rise above 62% and BC Liberal voting intentions may set records below 35%. If the BC Liberals continue on their current path of self-destruction, the NDP may even be able to beat them in a two-way race.


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