Move over economy, a new poll says BC’s red-hot real estate market is now top of voters’ minds.
The Insights West / Business in Vancouver poll shows 22% British Columbians see housing, poverty, and homelessness as the number one issue, eclipsing the economy at 20% percent.
Insights West Vice President Mario Canseco says it’s the first time in three years the issue has topped the chart, and could signal storm clouds for the B.C Liberals in next year’s election.
“It’s really a matter of establishing that emotional connection with the voters. They did really well in the last election and they do very well when it comes to economic matters, but when it’s something that’s hitting you closer to home, the answer cannot be economic growth or billions of dollars in revenue for the government. It’s ultimately something that people can hold onto.”
Coming in behind housing and the economy are health care at 17% and accountability at 12%.
Canseco says the numbers also hide a big regional split, with the housing a much higher in Metro Vancouver’s super-heated market.
“28% it’s the top issue in Metro Vancouver, so it’s not something that’s going to be affecting voters in the Okanagan as much, they seem to be worried about other things.”
Millennials pushed out
Unsurprisingly, Canseco says a big driver behind the numbers are millennials and young families frustrated about being locked out of the market.
“There’s a lot of discussions about how this is going to affect 18-34s who might be looking for different places to live in because they can’t afford a house, or they can’t get to that first home acquisition, but we also see a little bit of it with 35-54 year olds, maybe it’s time that you’re going into a larger place, maybe you want to start a family.”
Political report card
The poll also offers an insight as to where the parties stand with just under a year to go before the 2017 election.
Respondents gave Premier Christy Clark top marks for her handling of the economy (39%) followed by crime and public safety (34%). The premier didn’t score more than 50% on any of the issues polled.
Among the leaders, NDP chief John Horgan scored top marks at 40% approval, followed by Clark at 34% approval, and Green leader Andrew Weaver at 32%. A significant 48% of respondents gave Weaver an “unsure” rating, giving him plenty of room to move in either direction.
Finally, the survey found the NDP leading the race a year out from voting day, topping the Liberals 40%-34%, but Canseco cautions it’s still far too soon to read much into those numbers.
“One year before the last election federally, Justin Trudeau was in a distant third place and he ended up getting 35% of the vote, so it’s pretty early to try and figure out what’s going to happen.”
The poll was conducted among 801 B.C. adults, and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.