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49% of BC residents watched some (28%) or all (22%) of the leaders’ English language debate last week; 28% of those who watched say it had an impact on voting intention.

Vancouver, BC — With only days left until the 2021 federal election in Canada, the governing Liberals appear to be headed for defeat in British Columbia, and the leaders debate did little to radically change voter sentiment. Many voters remain intent on punishing the federal Liberals for calling what is felt to be an unnecessary election in our country.

According to our latest poll, the Liberals will end up in third place in British Columbia after only a minor increase in voter support in the final days of the campaign and since our last poll (conducted September 1-4, 2021). Current indications are that the NDP (33%, down 2 points from two weeks ago) and Conservative Party (34%, up 1 point) will capture more votes than the third-place Liberals, who will only get the support of 22% of voters in the province (up 3 points). The Green Party garnishes the support of 7% of the decided vote (down 1 point), and a small number (4%) currently support the People’s Party.

As found in previous polls, the NDP is more popular among female voters (40% vs. 25% for males) and 18-34 year olds (48% vs. 31% of 35-54 years and 24% of 55 years+), while the Conservatives are more appealing to males (44% vs. 25% for females), and the 55 years+ age group (45% vs. 32% for 35-54 years and 21% for 18-34 years). The Liberals are also slightly more popular among female voters (25% vs. 19% for males), and those who live in Metro Vancouver (28% vs. 16% elsewhere in BC).

The federal leader’s debate held last week had some influence on voter preferences, but it seems only enough to stall the Liberal’s slide and stop the Conservative gains. Nearly half of British Columbians (49%) watched either all (22%), or some of the debate (28%), and just over one-quarter of those who watched it (28%) feel it had an influence on who they will vote for. It may help to explain why the Conservatives failed to continue the momentum they had built earlier as slightly fewer past Conservative voters (21%) say it will influence their vote compared to Liberal (28%) or NDP (27%) voters.

As in our previous poll, the Liberal vote in BC has diminished significantly since the last federal election in 2019, as only 72% of past Liberal voters indicate they will mark the ballot the same this time around, although this is an increase of 10 points since our last poll two weeks ago. It appears a significant minority (20%) of previous Liberal voters have abandoned the party in support of the NDP, with a further 6% moving to the Conservatives. The vast majority (85%) of NDP and Conservative (91%) voters will stick with the party they voted for in the last federal election.

The NDP has gained the most in recent months, as 34% of likely NDP voters have come from voters who have changed their mind in the past six months, compared to only 21% who now intend to vote Liberal, and 17% who intend to vote Conservative.

Voter certainty has increased dramatically since our last poll two weeks ago (80% of decided voters are ‘very certain’ their vote will not change now compared to 62% two weeks ago). As we’ve seen throughout this campaign, the Conservative vote is the most certain—with 84% indicating their vote is ‘very certain’ (up 8 points since our last release). While Liberal (77% +26%) and NDP (77%, +22%) voting intenders are less certain versus Conservative, their intentions have solidified more in the final two weeks of the campaign.

For the first time in this election campaign, Insights West examined voter motivations and broke it down by party voting intentions to gather a good understanding of why voters will vote the way they will, and we found some significant differences in motivation depending on which party people intend to vote for. A significant percentage of BC voters (72%) are voting the way they are because they want a change in government—but that number is dramatically higher for Conservative voters (94%) and NDP voters (81%) versus Liberal voters (19%). Many voters (74%) are voting against the platform and policies of another party—a response that is highest among Conservative voters (80% vs. 72% among Liberal and 69% among NDP intenders). Hurting the Liberals perhaps most is the finding that nearly half (49%) of all voters are voting against the Liberals because they called an unnecessary election—a number that is significantly higher among Conservative (79%) compared to NDP (47%) voters.

For some voting motivators, results do not vary by the political party British Columbians intend to vote for. On an overall basis, the vast majority (87%) of voters are selecting the party based on the platform or policies, and this does not vary by partisan vote. Likewise, more than three-quarters (79%) have made their choice because they believe their leader will make the best Prime Minister, and fewer (61%) will vote for the specific candidate in their riding. Interestingly, over half (52%) intend to vote a certain way because it was felt they are all bad choices, but they are voting for ‘the least bad choice’.

“It appears as though the Liberals will be the losing party in this election—at least among BC voters – when we look at the popular vote” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “The Liberals were unable to stop the slide throughout this campaign, as the electorate was never able to get over the audacity of having what is perceived to be an expensive and unnecessary election during the fourth wave of the pandemic. As a result of this, there is an overwhelming sentiment that a change is needed in governance at the federal level here in BC, and the NDP and Conservatives will benefit most from this feeling. Whether the change here in BC is enough to upset the apple cart in the House of Commons for the rest of the nation will be understood better on election day when the final ballots are tallied in the rest of the country.”

About Insights West:
Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 25 out of 26 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:
Results are based on an online study conducted September 15 to 16, 2021 among a sample of 1,201 residents across BC. Respondents are part of Insights West’s Feedback Community, a panel of BC residents recruited from a variety of sources and backgrounds who share their views and opinions on an ongoing basis, and from other panels provided by partner providers. The margin of error with the total sample—which measures sample variability—is +/- 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:
Steve Mossop
Insights West