The ethnic vote scandal has reversed the BC Liberals’ momentum and left them a daunting 20 points behind the opposition NDP, pollsters say, with just weeks to go before the provincial election.

Support for Premier Christ Clark’s party had been slowly, but steadily increasing for months before the controversial Multicultural Strategy Action plan was leaked, reaching 31 per cent to the NDP’s 47 per cent in February.

But a new Angus Reid Public Opinion survey suggests the Liberals have taken a turn for the worse, dropping to 28 per cent in March while the NDP increased one per cent to 48.

“The only demographic where the Liberals are ahead of the NDP is people in households with a yearly income of over $100,000,” said pollster Mario Canseco. “And that’s a tenuous lead at best; it’s about three or four points”

The Green and Conservative parties both saw slight increases to tie for a distant third at 11 per cent, the poll found.

Opposition leader Adrian Dix was considered the best pick for Premier by twice as many respondents as Clark, and he beat the incumbent on every major issue facing the province: crime, health care, education, dealing with Ottawa and the environment.

Despite the Liberals’ heavily-publicized jobs plan, Dix was even considered better suited to deal with the economy, at 23 per cent to Clark’s 12 per cent.

Women were more likely to support the NDP, Canseco said, by a 2:1 margin.

“You only have one in four female voters who say they’d vote for the Liberals, and those certainly aren’t the numbers they expected when they elected Christy Clark as leader.”

The poll results suggest the Liberals are also having trouble maintaining the same supporters who voted for the party in 2009 under Gordon Campbell’s leadership.

A full 62 per cent of respondents said it’s time for a new party to take the reins in B.C., including 33 per cent of those who voted Liberal the last time around. Another 17 per cent said they’re undecided.

“There’s bound to be people disappointed with the way you’ve done things but right now there’s only 50 per cent of people who voted for the Liberals in 2009 who feel there’s no need to change the government,” Canseco said.

The survey was conducted among 809 randomly selected B.C. adults from March 18 to 19. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent.