Your Insights on the BC Leaders’ Debate

An overnight News1130/Insights West poll of 385 British Columbian residents shows that 68% watched at least some of the televised leader’s debate, and results suggest a tie, with 31% feeling Adrian Dix won, and a nearly equal number feeling Christy Clark won (28%).

Vancouver, BC – A jointly conducted News1130/Insights West Poll overnight poll of 385 British Columbia residents shows that a significant number of BC adults (68%) actually watched or listened to at least part of the BC Election leader’s debate, and results suggest a near tie between Christy Clark and Adrian Dix. Of those who did watch, the vast majority says it served to confirm existing choices for who they are going to vote for. Only a very small number say that it made them more likely to consider another political party, and even fewer indicated that it changed how they plan to vote.

The majority of BC residents watched at least some of the debate (68%), but only a minority watched or listened the entire thing (26%) while 21% watched most of it, and 15% watched some of it. A slightly larger number (39%) hardly followed any of it, or did not watch it at all.

Overall, it looks as though Christy Clark gained the most from the debate, as despite her trailing in the polls, a near equal number of voters chose Clark as the debate winner (28%), as chose Adrian Dix (31%). A negligible number felt that Jane Sterk (13%) was the winner, while John Cummins really fell short, with only 3% feeling he succeeded as the winner. Nearly a third (26%) felt there was no clear winner.

When asked why they felt a particular candidate had won, the answers vary significantly, depending on who was chosen. Those who said Christy Clark won felt she did so because she appeared the most confident (69%), was the best speaker (69%), provided the clearest vision for BC (60%), was the most articulate (57%), came across the best as a leader (53%), demonstrated her experience (42%), and was the most energetic (38%). Dix was chosen because he answered the questions the best (60%), defended his ideas the best (58%), did not make any major mistakes (52%), was not too confrontational (50%), and was the most authentic (45%).

Among NDP voters, 56% felt Dix won the debate, and among Liberal voters, 58% were solidly behind Premier Christy Clark. Only 5% of either party supporters felt the opposite leader had won.

As expected, the vast majority of BC voters say the leader’s debate did not change their opinion about who they will vote for; 18% say it had no effect in changing their undecided vote, while the largest proportion (48%) say it confirmed their existing choice. Another 22% say it solidified who they were leaning towards. More importantly, 11% say that it changed their opinion of who they are going to vote for, but these numbers are equal among Liberal and NDP supporters.

Results of the leader’s debate confirm that many British Columbian residents are particularly engaged in this election campaign. A significant number say they are following the election either “very closely” (30%) or “somewhat closely” (46%), while 20% are saying “not very closely” or “not at all” (4%). In fact, 52% of BC residents say they are following this election either “much more closely” (21%) or “a little more closely” (30%) than the last election, and only 12% are following it “a little less” or “a lot less closely” than last time around in 2009.

According to our early numbers, the debate appears to have sparked some momentum for the Liberal vote. Although the NDP (37%) continues to have a double-digit lead over the BC Liberals (27%) the numbers have shifted slightly upwards for the BC Liberals, and downwards for the NDP—and the number of undecided voters has dropped from 20% to 13%. The BC Green Party holds the same voter share as last time around (12%) and the BC Conservative Party has dropped slightly from 8% to 7%; 1% would vote for other parties/independents and 3% said they would not vote. A cautionary note: these are early release numbers, and the final election numbers from this poll will be refreshed 3 days from now when we close our poll.

“Usually underdogs have the most to gain in leader’s debates, and in this sense, Christy Clark delivered,” comments Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “With the NDP having led the election race from the beginning and results showing a dead-heat tie between the leaders of the two prominent parties in terms of who won the debate, Christy now has a bit of extra momentum heading into the final couple weeks of the campaign. Sterk did as well as expected —which doesn’t impact voter outcomes, while Cummins completely flopped, which could help the right-of-centre vote if a few points get delivered to the Liberals as an outcome.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary and has eight full-time and five part-time employees.

Results are based on an online study launched at 7:30 pm on the BC Leader’s Debate night, April 29th, 2013, among 385 residents of BC aged 18+ who are Your Insights panel members. YourInsights.ca is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for BC for age, gender, and region of BC. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 5.0 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty. Detailed Tabulations will be available at this site after May 3, 2013.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West
778-891-4762
stevemossop@insightswest.com