April 27, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – A new Mainstreet/Postmedia poll finds voters who watched the B.C. Leaders Debate say John Horgan narrowly won – though Andrew Weaver walked away with the highest favourables.
Quito Maggi, President of Mainstreet Research made the following remarks:
British Columbians like “Doctor Weaver”, as he was referred to repeatedly by Christy Clark in the debate last night, they just don’t think he has much of a chance to win.
Andrew Weaver has a PHD in Applied Mathematics and as such carries the “Dr” honorific. This approach of using titles to refer to a political opponent has been used in the past with some success. By referring to an opponent by their title instead of their given name or a more generic title like “Mr.”, it can create the impression that the individual is out of touch. This strategy may pay off eventually but results of the post debate poll say most B.C. residents have a favourable view of Weaver, for now.
The debate featured another solid performance by Christy Clark, who has a solid track record of good performances in debates and more generally as a strong campaigner. Clark started the debate strongly with hard hitting questions for the other party leaders in a debate format that uniquely allowed each candidate to pose questions of the other participants. As the debate wore on though, and the focus shifted to some heated exchanges between NDP leader John Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver, Clark seemed to loose steam.
The highlight of the debate can be attributed to Green leader Weaver who said “Well better than the worst is still really bad” to NDP leader Horgan. He later repeated this by saying, “Better than really bad is still just bad, B.C. deserves the best” in the next exchange with Horgan.
29% of B.C. debate watchers believe than Weaver won the debate and 50% have a favourable view of him compared to just 26% who have an unfavourable view. When compared to John Horgan of the BC NDP or Christy Clark of the BC Liberals, the favourability score of BC Green leader Weaver is by far the best. Horgan scored just 37% favourable vs 42% unfavourable and Christy Clark fared even worse with 34% favourable vs 54% unfavourable.
When asked about who would win the election however, the opinions shift quite dramatically with just 6% saying the Greens will win. 40% said the BC Liberals would win and 35% said the BC NDP. This gap between voter preferences and perceptions of chances may point to the achilles heal of the BC Greens who have polled significantly higher than any previous election.
Despite the highlight going to Weaver, it does not appear that any significant knock out blow took place in the televised debate. With less than two weeks remaining to election day, the battle between the governing BC Liberals and the opposition BC NDP continues.
We expect to see the full impact of the debate and the leader performances in the days ahead. As people digest the debate and discuss it with friends and family, opinions will shift and solidify. The debate effect may take almost a week to be fully reflected in voter intentions.