News Release: B.C. voters want clarity on COVID relief and economic plans ahead of leaders’ debate

October 12, 2020

VoteLocal poll finds 58%of British Columbians plan to watch October 13 televised debate

October12, 2020 (Vancouver, B.C.) -- According to the latest VoteLocal survey of British Columbians, the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about the economy top the list of issues shaping voters’ decisions in the October 24th provincial election.

Just one year ago in the lead up to the 2019 federal election, climate change and the economy topped the list of concerns among the B.C. electorate, but the global pandemic has eclipsed other issues and put voters’ focus squarely on which provincial party has the best plan to deal with its devastating impacts.  

With 500 British Columbians surveyed October 1-6 by Mustel Group in partnership with FleishmanHillard HighRoad, the top issues influencing voters are:

-       Response to COVID-19

-       Economy & jobs

-       Healthcare

-       Support for vulnerable people

-       Mental health & addiction

-       Environment & climate change

According to the survey, British Columbians are less interested in parties’ track record in handling COVID-19 so far, compared to proposals for confronting the challenges that lie ahead. Eight-in-ten say they will decide how to vote based on parties’ plans for the future, with less than two-in-ten focused on how parties have dealt with the pandemic to date.

“These findings suggest that an opportunity exists for the BC Liberal and Green parties to compete with the BC NDP on the basis of policy proposals related to pandemic relief and recovery. Our survey found that three-in-ten voters are still undecided on who they will vote for – a finding that is consistent across the province,” said Evi Mustel, Principal of Mustel Group Research.

“People are worried about the pandemic getting worse before it gets better,” said Anna Lilly, Senior Vice President and Partner with FleishmanHillard HighRoad. “The ballot-box question won’t be about values or the leaders’ visions for the future, as is often the case in elections. Instead, B.C. voters are looking for clarity on parties’ immediate plans to deal with COVID-19 and get the economy back on track. That means the three party leaders need to use the October 13th debate to convince the electorate that they have the best platform.”

With respect to specific actions to address the pandemic, survey respondents say they want to see the government prioritize enforcement of current COVID-related restrictions and invest in economic growth, above other measures such as increasing COVID testing or adding new restrictions to prevent its spread.

Affordability, which was the top issue heading into the 2018 municipal elections according to a previous VoteLocal survey, is not as prominent in this campaign but remains a key issue, with three-in-ten B.C. residents saying they have considered moving out of their community or region due to affordability or quality of life concerns.  Within Metro Vancouver, 39% report considering a move, compared to 41% in 2019 and 46% in 2018.  

Only 36% of British Columbians support the early election call. Most people plan to avoid polling stations on election day, with 39% intending to submit a mail-in ballot and 27% going to advance polls. This may be in part because most people believe the severity of the pandemic will increase, with 62% believing COVID cases will continue to rise in the lead up to election day.

In the absence of in-person gatherings or opportunities to meet candidates face-to-face, people will rely on the news media for information, followed by social media and party websites. 53% say they will watch the televised leaders’ debate on October 13th (whereas 48% said they watched the debate in the last election).

 

A full report on the 2020 Provincial Election survey is available online at www.votelocalbc.ca.

 

VoteLocal

VoteLocal is a research initiative of Mustel Group and FleishmanHillard HighRoad aimed at understanding how issues influence elections. VoteLocal seeks to raise awareness of issues in communities and to encourage voter participation in elections.

Survey Methodology

The VoteLocal survey included a random sample of British Columbia adults, 18 years of age or over (n=500). The survey was completed online from October 1-6, 2020.

Media contacts

Anna Lilly, [email protected], 604.505.9048

Juliana Martine, [email protected], 604.630.0572

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