The wonderful political quote about polls is: “Poles are for dogs.”
Very clever. However, politicians and political parties live and die by the polls they conduct. So what are the polls saying?
The latest Angus Reid poll has the Liberals and the NDP virtually neck-and-neck halfway through the campaign. It put Liberal support at 42 per cent and NDP support at 39 per cent. The B.C single transferable vote electoral system supporters have quickly pointed out the numbers are very close to the 1996 election when the NDP formed a majority government with less of the popular vote than the Liberals. They, of course, suggest the single transferable vote system would eliminate such a re-occurrence.
However, until that system is in place (if ever), we have to deal with the current system. So what do the numbers tell us?
They tell us that this election isn’t a lock for either party yet.
And, with Green Party leader Jane Sterk all but invisible during the campaign, so far, it’s unlikely the Greens will make a breakthrough and elect a member or two. If they did, then the possibility would be there for a minority government. As long as we only send two parties to Victoria, we will never have a minority government. And that works well for the Liberals and NDP because no one likes governing in a minority (just ask Stephen Harper). Apparently the leaders then don’t get to run roughshod over everyone. How horrible for them anyway.
But back to the decision we will make May 12.
There is a lot of time between now and May 12. The message from the politicians during this campaign is that things can turn on a dime. They are right. There hasn’t been a real galvanizing issue during the campaign. Cabinet members’ speeding tickets and NDP candidates’ Facebook photos aren’t really enough to sway voters province-wide.
The Liberals have stressed that the economy is the primary issue during this campaign, claiming they are the best stewards of economic woes that are, really, out of our control. The electorate is smart enough to know that neither party will be able to really deal with the economic crisis.
In the North, the Liberals have been hammering the NDP on its forest policies (particularly forest critic Bob Simpson) and some inconsistencies of statements on the Softwood Lumber Agreement. However, with the forest sector reeling, it’s a bitter pill for the thousands who have been laid off to say Liberal forest policies have been a boon to forest workers.
So what does the poll really tell us?
It tells us that it’s politics as usual in B.C. It’s a tight race.
It also means that the candidates will be out courting your vote very hard over the next 12 days. It also means that nothing is guaranteed in terms of the outcome. So, if you think your vote doesn’t count, think again. If you think the election result is a foregone conclusion, think again. The close poll result tells us that a lot of British Columbians have yet to make up their mind.
It means your vote is important. It counts. Make sure you get out and vote on May 12. Whoever you vote for will certainly be grateful. But, more importantly, our system will be grateful. We all complain about our system not really being representative. One thing that does make it representative is getting out to vote. The more people vote, the more representative the outcome is.