The by-election still hasn’t been called in Nanaimo but when it is the NDP are looking to be in a fight.
Mainstreet Research released a poll on Monday that shows a neck-and-neck race between the B.C. Liberals and the NDP. According to the poll, if the election were held today likely NDP candidate Sheila Malcolmson would get 39.8 per cent of the vote, while Liberal candidate Tony Harris would get 38.2 per cent of the vote.
“It is a very, very close race, a statistical tie,” Mainstreet CEO Quito Maggi said.
“The fact that the NDP has a pretty substantial lead in the 18-to-34 demographic gives in my mind the Liberals an advantage. This one is a coin toss. As much of a coin toss as riding polls can be.”
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The by-election has not yet been called but B.C. Premier John Horgan has promised to have an MLA in place by February. The election is necessary because Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog must soon resign his seat as an MLA to continue on with his new job.
The by-election is incredibly important because of the breakdown in the legislature. Currently the NDP has 41 seats, plus the support of three Green MLAs. The Liberals have 42 seats. But if the Liberals are able to win the by-election, they would have 43 seats, a tie with the NDP-Greens combined.
In that situation the independent speaker, Darryl Plecas, would have to break ties.
The poll looked at the popularity of both party leaders and local candidates. When looking at all voters, 41.4 per cent favoured Horgan and 31.4 per cent favoured Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson. But if you look at the local candidates, 35.4 per cent of all voters liked Harris compared to 37 per cent for Malcolmson.
The B.C. Conservatives also polled very well considered they do not have a full-time party leader. It is unclear whether the party will field a by-election candidate. The party polled at 7.7 per cent in Nanaimo.
“We have seen this consistently now through two election cycles where we see the B.C. Conservatives polling pre-election and then they absolutely collapse and their vote goes to the B.C. Liberals or the Greens,” said Maggi.
“That might point to an even greater advantage for the B.C. Liberals.”