The first poll for the new South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding shows voters leaning towards the New Democrats in the next federal election.
According to Insights West‘s July 10 release, 44 per cent of those polled in the riding said they’d vote NDP, followed by Conservatives at 20 per cent, and the Liberal Party trails with nine per cent.
A large segment, 21 per cent, remains undecided, and the rest are in favour of the Green Party (five per cent) or listed as other.
That said, does asking 302 constituents how they would vote if the federal election were held tomorrow, really paint a picture of things to come this fall? More so, do the results in any way sway the Liberal, NDP and Conservative candidates’ campaign focus moving forward?
Richard Cannings and Connie Denesiuk both say “No,” while Conservative candidate Marshall Neufeld expects it to be a close race.
The NDP and Liberal MP seat seekers (respectively) say it’s what they hear on the doorstep, not what the pollsters find using varying methodology.
“Of course we’d rather be up than down,” Cannings told the Trail Times Wednesday. “But I can simply say it has no effect on how we are campaigning or how hard we are working because there’s still three months ahead of us.”
Anecdotally, Cannings said his one-on-one conversations with SOWK voters do, in fact, mirror the Insights poll. What he’s hearing throughout the riding is people desire a change in Ottawa.
“I know the election results will be much closer than that poll indicates,” he added. “But the overwhelming sense seems to be enough is enough, already. So we continue our work to be the party best able to affect change in Canada and form a new government.”
Denesiuk maintains methods of gathering information differ from poll to poll, and she doesn’t take any one result too seriously.
“I tend to reflect on what I hear on the doorstep, that is my litmus test,” said the Summerland-based Liberal.
“And when you are on the doorstep you hear from everybody – people who use the computer and people who don’t. I hear from people who still have a land line and others who don’t. I get the real people and I hear what the real issues are.”
She echoes Cannings observation that SOWK constituents voice a range of concerns. But the one reverberating message Denesiuk hears throughout the region is that voters are asking for a changing of the guard.
“People are looking for change,” she said. “They want to see our country back on track and Canadians looking after one another better. Polling has its place, I say,” Denesiuk added. “But the most important poll is on election day.”
In an email response, Neufeld stressed there are decisions to be made.
“Prime Minister Harper and our Conservatives will keep the focus on what matters to Canadians; keeping taxes low, protecting Canadians from the threats of extremism and terrorism and supporting Canadians to build our economy.”
Mark Canseco, vice president of Insights West public affairs, said it’s very tough to look at the poll as a forecast but pointed out the riding-level polling shows low support for the federal Conservative Party in SOWK as well as three for key Vancouver-area MPs.
“What was important to us at this point was to look at the retention rate for Conservatives,” explained Canseco. “(And ask) is the base staying with them in these new, re-drawn ridings or are voters considering other options.”
Insights West interviewed 1,209 voting-age adults by telephone across four different federal ridings, drawing samples with census targets in mind so the allocation of respondents matches population distribution.
“The level of support for Conservative candidates in South—Okanagan and Vancouver South is particularly low at this point,” Canseco pointed out. “In North Vancouver and West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea-to-Sky Country, the incumbent party’s candidates are headed for tighter races than the ones they fought in 2011.”
The data was statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region with the margin of error plus or minus 5.6 percentage points for each riding, 19 times out of 20.