The NDP and John Horgan’s overall approval rating dips to 50% as public sentiment towards the handling of crime and public safety (27%), housing prices (12%), and the opioid crisis (17%) drops dramatically; still, 42% of decided voters would vote NDP compared to 31% for the BC Liberals, and 19% for the BC Greens
Vancouver, BC — According to the latest version of Insights West’s “Government of British Columbia Report Card” (Download our free report here)”, the high approval ratings that the BC NDP has been accustomed to throughout this pandemic has waned as other voter issues have resurfaced. Despite recent drops, current voting intentions show Horgan has a firm hold on power since winning the election just eight months ago.COVID-19 has dominated the public agenda much of this past year as the number one issue facing British Columbia, but concern levels have dropped from 32% last June to 18% currently; housing has since returned to the top spot (23%, up 10 ppt) as the most important issue in the public’s collective mindset.
The economy (12%, up another 1 ppt) has continued its slow and steady climb over the past several years. The opioid crisis (8%) has made its debut as the fourth most important issue in the province, and forestry (another new addition) is a little further down the list at 4%. With the proliferation of gang-related shootings in the past six months, crime/public safety (7%, up 5 ppt) has resurfaced in importance while the environment (5%), taxes (5%), and poverty (4%) have all held steady. Issues around jobs/unemployment (3%, down 3 ppt), homelessness (4%, down 2 ppt), and healthcare (2%, down 5 ppt) have all dropped slightly in the past year. Consistent in the past several waves, it is interesting to note that housing prices are a far greater concern among 18-34 year old residents (36% vs. 22% for 35-54 and 16% among 55+ in May 2021), and this level of concern has increased 12 ppt among this group of young British Columbians since last year at this time.
While last June’s report card showed massive increases in approval ratings for the BC NDP and Premier John Horgan overall, results have now returned to pre-pandemic levels. Last June, Horgan’s approval ratings skyrocketed to 68%, the highest approval rating ever seen in this study for a standing premier; this has returned to 50%, similar to the 51% seen in November 2019.
With two new opposition leaders in their role the past year, BC Liberal’s leader Bond’s approval rating is at 25%, which is 5 ppt lower than the reading on BC Liberal’s Wilkinson this time last year. Fursteneau’s score of 35% is higher than interim Green leader Olsen (29% in June 2020). BC Conservative party leader Bolin’s performance has dropped considerably from 18% to 11% in the same time period.
In contrast, Dr. Bonnie Henry’s approval rating has better stood the test of time, despite occasional public scrutiny over COVID-19-related decisions. Approval ratings for Dr. Bonnie this time last year on her handling of the COVID-19 situation were an astounding 79%; that has dropped only slightly to 73% currently. Approval ratings for Adrian Dix have similarly dropped, but from not as high a starting point (72% to 65% currently). John Horgan’s approval rating on COVID-19 has also dropped but remains higher than his overall approval rating (from 65% to 56%, 6 ppt above his overall approval rating of 50%). In comparison, Trudeau’s approval rating has dropped considerably further in the same time frame (67% to 46%).
Softer approval ratings for Horgan are also evident from results regarding change in opinions of him as a leader. Only 16% of BC residents have better opinions of him in the past six months vs. 40% whose views have worsened (34% has stayed the same and 10% are unsure). There is some consolation in the finding that only 28% of NDP voters indicated their opinion of him has worsened, while the majority of past Liberal (54%) and Green (52%) voters indicate it has worsened.
After Horgan’s landslide victory last October and subsequent lower approval ratings, current voter intentions indicate the BC NDP still enjoys a comfortable lead, the Greens have improved, and the BC Liberals continue to lose ground. If an election were held today, the NDP would receive 42% of the decided popular vote (compared to 48% in the October 2020 election), BC Liberals would get 31% (3 ppt lower than the election results), Greens would get 19% (up 5 ppt). The current undecided vote is very low at 16%.
The BC government continues to receive high approval ratings for the handling of the COVID-19 crisis, but those ratings have dropped substantially since one year ago, and ratings on non-COVID 19 files have likewise dropped. The government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic still receives high approval levels from a majority of BC residents on nearly every dimension, as 64% think they have done a good job on providing financial support for people impacted from COVID-19 (previously 69%), 61% (previously 84%) for providing information about the pandemic, and 58% (previously 85%) on combating COVID-19. Currently 63% give the government good marks for their handling of the vaccine rollout, and 55% for the current restart plan.
The only area that has seen an improvement in ratings is the BC government’s handling of changes to ICBC coverage and policies, moving up from 24% in November 2019 to 32% in June 2021 and up again to the current level of 46%.
Approval ratings on other major files and decisions have dropped 8 to 13 ppt since the last measure one year ago. This includes the government’s handling of:
- Managing BC’s crown corporations (39%, down 5 ppt)
- Healthcare (54%, down 8 ppt)
- Poverty (24%, down 8 ppt)
- The economy (41%, down 9 ppt)
- Money laundering (24%, down 9 ppt)
- Climate change (31% down 10 ppt)
- Transportation (40%, down 10 ppt)
- The Kinder Morgan pipeline (20% down 10 ppt)
- Education (41%, down 12 ppt)
- Energy and pipelines (22%, down 13 ppt)
- Homelessness (20%, down 13 ppt)
Massive approval rating drops have been experienced in crime and public safety (27%, down 19 ppt), housing prices (12%, down 16 ppt), and the handling of the opioid crisis (17%, down 16 ppt).
“The halo effect of our BC government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has worn thin, and we are starting to see a return to pre-COVID-19 levels in terms of approval ratings” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “That being said, approval ratings for government actions over this past 15 months have been among the highest among we have covered in our 10-year existence as a polling company, and it is only recently where other public initiatives and issues have replaced and become centre stage in the upcoming post-pandemic world. As issues like the opioid crisis, the housing crisis and the continued environmental devastation of British Columbia continues, it is yet to be seen if the BC NDP government can continue to manage our province without a decline in voter and public sentiment support.”
The full June 2021 issue of the Government of British Columbia Report Card is available for download here.
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 400 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 from May 26 to 30, 2021 among a sample of 831 BC residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.
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